About two summers ago I set out to find what I thought was the best burger in the Provo/Orem area. I had a really great time doing that, I ate a bunch of exceptional burgers, pissed a good number of folks off by calling In-N-Out entirely overrated, (I still stand by that opinion, even though I admit that a Double-Double is probably the best burger for under 4 dollars) and found a new personal favourite in Tommy’s Double Chili burger, sure it takes years off my life expectancy every time I eat it, but it’s 100% worth I swear. Searching through Provo for the best burger was a great time, but I missed something critical in that search.
Who on earth just eats the burger? How can one accurately consider the best burger places without taking an honest look at their fries? It’s just plain silly. So now I’m ready to correct this mistake. I Jonny Tollestrup, along with some eager french fry “gurus”, (really they’re just people with an unhealthy love for potatoes) will set out to scour the Provo/Orem area for the best fries they can offer, will it be difficult? No. Dawg this is just an excuse to each french fries on a regular basis without feeling guilty about those calories. Also content. Get off my back.
“But Jonny, who pray to tell are these brilliant guru’s you speak of?”
Well rhetorical voice, I’m really glad you asked because I was wondering how I could introduce these fine ladies. The core of my panel is made up by one Lindsay Leavitt and Nicole Trette. Each of them bring their own unique qualifications to the table, for example Lindsay is what some might refer to as a “fiend” for french fries, I wouldn’t though because that would be mean and I’ve never said a mean thing about another human being in my life because that’s just not the person that I am. Obviously. Regardless Lindsay’s expertise on this subject comes from a wealth of experience that can’t be matched. Seriously though, she might have a problem though.
My other panel member, Nicole is here for many different reasons. Nicole’s ability to dissect flavours and articulate her feelings on them is second to none. One might not believe it possible to bring truly nuanced thought into the world of the french fry, but Nicole has gone and done it already. This brings a great deal of authority into the search, like how having Simon Cowell dumping on people lends credibility to whatever talent show he’s currently on. (I think it’s X-factor?) As an added benefit Nicole’s nuanced and particular thoughts manage to make my absurdly pretentious takes on fast food sound almost like the common man speaking. One might even go as far to say that Nicole is one of them “bougie” folks when it comes to fried potatoes.
Then, of course, there’s me, but Y’all already know me and frankly, I need no introduction.
That’s the core of my panel, I’m sure they’ll be others that I’ll bring in as I go, but the rest of them are tag-alongs and only the opinions of the three people above should be listened to with any degree of seriousness. ( 4 lines and I’m right back to be the pretentious one, nice moves Jonny!)
With the introductions out of the way let’s get into the first round of fries! For this exercise, I opted to get fries from four different establishments at a time and pit them against each other and I’ll keep doing it until I’m sure that I’ve hit all the joints with fries that are worthwhile. Also as a side note, at no point will sweet potato fries even be considered. As Lindsay put it, “they’re not really even fries”. Also, sauces served with the fries will be taken into consideration. Just gotta let you know for transparencies sake.
This first round features Cubby’s Buffalo Bleu fries, In-N-Out’s hand cut fries, Chic-Fil-A’s waffle fries, and Mooyah’s Hand-cut Idaho fries. I gathered thoughts about the fries and at the end of the evening, I asked my panellists to rank them from best to worst with the best of the four receiving 4 points, 2nd 3 points, 3rd 2 points and last 1 point. The scores were added up at the end of the night to determine the winner and losers.
For Cubby’s fries, the panel was mostly in consensus, the buffalo bleu cheese sauce was really good and Lindsay in particular like that it had a good kick without being unnecessarily spicy, but the actual fry was quite underwhelming. Nicole noted in particular that she couldn’t even notice the rosemary seasoning and the fry didn’t taste “potatoes” enough. We all agreed that the softness of the fries was a real problem and if they had crisped them up a bit more it would’ve been a major improvement. All the panellists agreed that it was the worst fry of the evening scoring just 3 measly points.
Not far off from Cubby’s though was In-N-Out’s fries which were eaten with salt and the pickled infused fry sauce served in an outrageously large packet. For myself, I really want to focus on the sauce, because like almost everything else at In-N-Out it’s hilariously overrated. Don’t get me wrong it improved the fry and both of my panellists will echo that opinion, but all the other places we had fries from had better sauces in my mind, although my panellists might break away from me on that opinion. Both Nicole and Lindsay were big fans of the pickle infused sauce and while Lindsay appreciated the thinner cut of fry it could not be ignored that In-N-Out was lacking something and because of that, it scored the second lowest at 7 points.
Scoring just a touch better at 9 points was Mooyah’s Hand-cut Idaho fries. Normally I prefer to eat these with malt vinegar like a civilized man, but for reasons out of my control (didn’t remember to pick it up) that wasn’t available so ordinary fry sauce was used instead. Mooyah’s picked up early fans in the panellist for actually managing to be a nice crispy fry, even though Nicole noted a peculiar aftertaste. Lindsay apparently had no thoughts on the fry because I have no notes, though she did vote for it as her personal favourite so she liked it I guess?
At 11 points the winner of this potato-themed battle royale was Chic-Fil-A and their waffle fries. Both Lindsay and Nicole pointed out that the waffle shape and it’s ability to be easily folded for dipping without sacrificing crispiness was a major boon. I don’t think the shape of the fry matter much, but they were nice and crispy. Interesting to note though is that part of the consensus formed by the panel was that on their own Chic-Fil-A is not the strongest fry, but the wide range of very tasty dipping sauces is what really pushes them to the top. Lindsay was saddened by the fact that she didn’t have ranch to dip them with, but she also could’ve got ranch if she had just asked for it at the drive through like a normal person might’ve done, so whose fault is that? (Aight that might’ve crossed the line from being passive aggressive to a straight out attack, my bad and sorry. Totally still leaving it in though)
Beyond petty disputes like that though it was pretty clear that Chic-Fil-A and their sauces had captured the hearts of the panel and for the time being get to hold the title of best fries in the Provo/Orem area. How long will they hold onto that title though? Who knows? Probably depends on when I next manage to find the time to drive to 4 differant fast food joints in a single night. So don’t hold your breath or anything. Later.