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Restaurant Openings and Closings

East Dallas’ All-Time Favorite Fries Are (Kinda, Almost) Back

Remember the fries from 20 Feet Seafood Joint? Of course you do. Boy, do we have some good news about a new place called Goldie’s.
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I have helpfully inserted an arrow to show you what the new fries look like. photograph by Joon Koo, courtesy Goldie's / big, dumb arrow added by Brian Reinhart

It’s hard to overstate the hold that 20 Feet Seafood Joint still has on the minds of East Dallasites. The restaurant, beloved for lobster rolls, fried fish baskets, and a generous BYOB policy, closed in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic. Its neighbors still lament it. Once upon a time, D Magazine had a regular online column about French fries, and the most common reader feedback, no matter what restaurant was being reviewed, was praise for 20 Feet Seafood Joint.

And, when a new restaurant opened that claimed to serve “20 Feet fries,” East Dallas started talking about it. At the D office, just about everyone who lives on the far side of White Rock Lake gathered around in a semicircle, whispering: “Do they really mean it? The 20 Feet Seafood fries? Is it really them? Do they have the recipe?”

Well, no. They don’t have the exact recipe. But Goldie’s, the new Lake Highlands neighborhood restaurant, is indeed cooking its fries as a deliberate, loving tribute to the late, lamented spot.

Brittni Clayton, Goldie’s operating partner, says that the tribute was reverse-engineered from her years of devouring 20 Feet fries. “I live three minutes away from Peavy and Garland Road,” she explains. “That spot was just so—pardon my French—so fucking special. It just was. It was in my rotation twice a week sometimes.”

Clayton wants it made clear that Goldie’s does not have the original recipe and has not been in touch with 20 Feet’s owners, Marc Cassel and Suzan Fries. (Yes, her name is Fries, but it’s pronounced “freeze.”) This is, instead, part of her new restaurant’s mission, which she describes as being “of the neighborhood, for the neighborhood.” Working with chef Matthew Perry (also his real name, but he goes by Matt), the Goldie’s team got as close as they could to the original. The most important element is the garlic, rosemary, and thyme flecks that coat each fry.

“These are as close as we’re going to get without disgracing 20 Feet’s name,” Clayton says. “I don’t want people to take it the wrong way. This is just us saying, hey, we love 20 Feet, we wanted to shout them out. This is our ode to them, saying, ‘Hey, we love you and we miss you.’”

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Sprigs of rosemary and thyme went into the fryer along with the potatoes at 20 Feet Seafood Joint. Kevin Marple

Just about every dish and drink on the Goldie’s menu is a tribute in some form, though most are not specific to a now-closed restaurant. Some reflect family memories, or the owners’ preferred recipes, or just a predilection for local brands and products, like coffee from Noble Coyote. Even the name is a bit of an inside joke, referring to one owner’s nickname for Champagne.

Clayton says that one hyper-vigilant customer has already complained that the fries are not exactly the same as they were at 20 Feet, but that Lake Highlands’ reaction to the new spot has been overwhelmingly positive so far. “I feel like most of the places that I’ve opened, everyone’s been very critical and judgmental,” she explains. “This is the opposite. The neighborhood is so excited for us to be there. They are so happy we’re here, it’s crazy.”

As for the accuracy of the 20 Feet tribute fries, I think I can help. That old D article we linked up above—here is another link to save you a scroll—contains specifics about the 20 Feet recipe. Cassel told then-dining critic Nancy Nichols that he cooks frozen fries in top-quality soybean oil, then pulls the fries out just before they’re ready. At that time, he adds the rosemary, thyme, and parbaked garlic. When the fries get fished out, they’re dusted with salt, pepper, and a “squirt” of olive oil. (You can’t have too much oil, right?)

Clayton didn’t want to go into recipe specifics, but if that’s not how Goldie’s makes their fries already, it probably will be after they read this article.

The Goldie’s crew is hoping that Cassel and Fries will visit some day to try the fries, and to perhaps offer their blessing. In the meantime, East Dallas can get excited. One of the neighborhood’s favorite foods ever is back. As for the rest of the beloved seafood joint’s menu—well, don’t get your hopes too high. But maybe get them up a tiny bit.

“I miss 20 Feet,” Clayton repeats at the end of our chat, before offering a new detail. “Best lobster roll in the city, too. But we’re not going to try to recreate that. Yet. Yet.”

Author

Brian Reinhart

Brian Reinhart

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Brian Reinhart became D Magazine's dining critic in 2022 after six years of writing about restaurants for the Dallas Observer and the Dallas Morning News.
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