French fries at Relish. Photo by Nancy Nichols

Reviews

French Fry-Day: Relish

The menu says the fries are hand-cut. I think they were as frozen as I was while waiting for them to cook.

I cropped this picture of fries from a post on Relish’s Facebook page.

Leave it to hard-headed me to stick to a plan. As I told you last Friday, my original destination for my weekly fry report was Relish at Klyde Warren Park. The weather was stunning, but one of my friends complained of a sinus headache so, instead of sitting outside and watching people enjoy the Christmas decorations, we headed to a cozy booth inside at Lark on the Park.

I didn’t mind. I love being open to the pulls of the food universe. For last week, I discovered the gourmet goodness of the fries at Lark. When Monday morning pulled around, and I made my plans for this week, I just typed Relish on my Thursday calendar and forgot about it.

Relish has been on my list for a long time. The menu boasts “hand-cut french fries.” And they offer four options: plain (sea salt), malt vinegar, truffle parmesan, and fries tossed in Old Bay seasoning.

I like the burgers at Relish. They’re cheffy which means someone who knows about food designed them. The gimmick here is the menu offers different styles of relish such as pickled corn, truffle, and candied jalapeno and tomatillo and the taste you select is rolled into the meat of the burger. My grandmother would call that meatloaf, but she’s not here to make that point.

When I woke up yesterday and looked at the weather, I decided to pick an easier spot to pick up fries. Relish is perfectly located if you are on foot or already enjoying Klyde Warren Park. But, as I learned,  if you want to pick up an order from Relish, you are faced with two complications. One: I couldn’t find a telephone number to call in and place an order. Two: there is no place to park and run up to the service window and grab your food. Not such a big deal when the weather is nice, but it’s tough on a windy 35-degree afternoon.

Since I had to go downtown for some business anyway, I stuck to my original plan. To complete my task, I had to enlist a friend to drive me so I wouldn’t have to park. She agreed to do so, but she refused to get out of her pajamas. She dropped me off at the corner of Woodall Rogers Freeway and Olive and circled the park while I waited for my order.

As soon as a man slid the window open, I asked him if they hand-cut their fries. He looked at me as if I’d just asked him if he sliced up his children. This could have been a language barrier, and after asking the second time, I stopped. I requested three orders, two of them plain for my testing purposes, and a malt vinegar for my friend cruising around the park in her pajamas which, in hindsight, was probably not a very smart idea given our current political climate.

The man slid the door closed and went to work. I was the only fool there, so I stood and watched. He picked up a large plastic bag full of fries and poured them into frying baskets set them down in the hot oil. Both of the workers inside were wrapped up in coats and noshing on fries to keep warm. Not exactly something I’d like to see my employees do, but there was only one woman (me) standing outside. Certainly, she wouldn’t care.

They packed up my order and slid it through the window without a word. Once again, I attempted to ask if they cut them and once again I got a quick yes shake of the head.

I opened the box in the car. These were not the same fries I remember eating at Relish. They were long and skinny. I measured two at six inches. If I had to bet, and I hate betting, I would say these were not hand-cut, but frozen premium fries. I’m not basing that on the fact that I saw them come out of an industrial size plastic bag. There was no label on the bag, so I’m giving them the tiny benefit of the doubt that perhaps they cut by hand and freeze their product. Either way, other than salt, there was no potato flavor.

Once I was home, I checked their Facebook page. It hasn’t been updated in a while, but I did discover a picture of the fries they served April 17, 2015. They look plump and hand-cut to me. Nothing like the ones I bought today.

As I’ve said before, serving frozen fries is not a crime. Advertising them as cut by hand and not doing so is shady. Perhaps they only do this in the winter when business is down, and they need to cut costs. Whatever the reason, I’d prefer honesty. Especially if we have to wait outside in the crappy weather.

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