Trending: County French-Fry Culture is Hot
The humble fried spud gets way more interesting.
NYS duck poutine from the beer hall at Captain Lawrence Brewing Co.
When was the last time you went to a restaurant that didn’t have fries on the menu? From hand-cut, triple-fried, Belgian-style frites, to delicate shoestrings tossed with garlic, sea salt, and herbs, fries have permeated every corner of food culture — but that doesn’t mean chefs can’t get creative. In Westchester, tater tots are trending. Poutines, from classic to contemporary, are showing up on menus, and traditional fries get dressed up with toppings like wild-boar-chorizo chili. Here’s what we’re currently loving from the county’s french-fry culture.
When The Birch Collective opened in White Plains this past August, there was no question that poutine had to be on the menu. While much of the gastropub-style menu focuses on American comfort foods and oversized cocktails, co-owners and Montreal natives Matthew Gagnon Guastaferri and Pierluc Dupont wanted to infuse a little “French-Canadian flare” into the experience. “It’s super important to us that the poutine Quebecois exemplifies traditional poutine,” explains Guastaferri. To that end, the fries are triple-blanched in oil for a crisp texture that can stand up to the rich, brown gravy and cheddar curds. For a supplement, customers can have the whole mess finished with pickles, mustard, and smoked meat from NYC’s famed Mile End Delicatessen. For the non-traditional, the restaurant also does a lobster version made with chunks of lobster meat, lobster-bisque gravy, and cheese curds over sweet-potato fries.
Of course, French-Canadian vibes aren’t required to serve poutine. At The Oath Craft Beer Sanctuary in Tarrytown, the kitchen turns out a pulled-pork-smothered version. And, down the street, chunks of duck-fat-fried potatoes are frequently transformed into a brunch poutine at The Twisted Oak.
At Captain Lawrence Brewing Co. in Elmsford, the recently revamped beer-hall menu features a New York State duck poutine. “We wanted to have more than just a menu that pairs well with beer,” says Aaron Pozit, the brewery’s director of events and hospitality. “We wanted to feature
ingredients that are local to our region.” For the poutine, fries are doused in gravy made with CLBC beer, local cheeses, herbs, and confit duck meat. While the gravy changes often, Pozit says the poutine pairs well with a wide range of different beers. “If it’s cooler, a porter might be what you want. On a warmer day, a bright IPA can help wash it down with citrus notes that cut through some of the richness,” he says.
Tots Get Top Billing
Rob Dubilier, owner of Dobbs Dawg House, didn’t want to put regular old fries on the menu. After all, there’s nothing ordinary about his hot-dog shop, which relishes (sorry, couldn’t resist) in putting crazy toppings on the humble hot dog. “You can get fries anywhere,” he says. “Not many places have tater tots.” The menu at his Dobbs Ferry hot-dog shop includes nine specialty versions (buffalo sauce and blue cheese, or the spicy Evil Tots, with chipotle sauce, banana peppers, and Fritos), but customers can also build their own combos with any of the 65 toppings on the menu. “Sometimes people aren’t in the mood for hot dogs, so we’ll put [the toppings] on tots,” says Dubilier. Surprisingly, one of the most popular iterations is the zeppoli tots, topped with maple syrup and powdered sugar. “It tastes just like a zeppoli,” promises Dubilier. “It sounds crazy, but it works.”
Tots enthusiasts may also want to check out The Wooden Spoon in New Rochelle, where they’re treated like nachos or stuffed between the buns of the Grease Truck burger. Meanwhile, The Birch Collective’s Tater Terminator — topped with ground beef, bacon, cheese, and Big Birch Sauce — deconstructs the burger and layers it on top.
At The Whitlock, which opened in Katonah in October, Christina and Matthew Safarowic are putting a sophisticated spin on this childhood favorite by topping it with crème fraîche, red onion, and caviar. “It’s the perfect little salty bar snack,” says Christina. “Tots were a small comfort we wanted to breathe new life into; that’s how we’re approaching all of our dishes.”
It’s What’s on Top That Counts
At Buns-N-Bourbon in Peekskill, the menu features two types of loaded fries (plus loaded tater tots, a riff on the nachos from Taco Dive Bar next door) to pair with craft beers and 150 types of whiskey. “Buns-N-Bourbon is a politically incorrect, not-so-kid-friendly dive bar with chargrilled burgers, gourmet dogs, and kick-ass fried appetizers, right on the river,” says owner Louie Lanza. “Our loaded fries are topped with shredded barbecue smoked brisket, perfect to soak up the bourbon and beer.” Also on the menu: Sweet & Smoky Fries, thick-cut sweet-potato fries topped with slab bacon, cheddar-jalapeño sauce, and maple syrup from Lanza’s own farm in Garrison.
Down the river in Sleepy Hollow, Bridge View Tavern’s Disco is Dead Fries (go for the garlic-herb fries as your base) are topped with a wild-boar-chorizo chili, cheese sauce, applewood-smoked bacon, and a fistful of pickled jalapeno. At Polpettina they’ve been doing fries from the start. The Larchmont and Eastchester locations serve an Italian riff on chili fries, topping them with Bolognese and mozzarella. It might sound a little strange, but as cofounder Mike Abruzese puts it: “Everybody loves fries.”