My Second Favorite Fries

I’m still on the Pittsburgh trip. I really do enjoy going there, and not just for food, but Pittsburgh has some of the best food around, especially considering the size of the city. How many cities have a doneness of steak named after them? I’ve heard of NY Strip, but that’s just a cut of meat. Pittsburgh rare has a specific meaning to doneness… Anyone know what it is? Pittsburgh Rare is also the appropriate name of a steakhouse in the city, and a very good one, from what I’m told.

From the title of this entry, you can probably guess that my second favorite fries are found in Pittsburgh, and you’d guess right. What are my favorite? The Paris Las Vegas Casino & Hotel, which I’ve probably talked about before, has a great restaurant called Mon Ami Gabi, which is also found in the Chicago area and Bethesda, MD. They have great steaks, and all are served with frites (French for fries, I guess). The steaks are good (I had the Roquefort steak). The view in Vegas is my favorite, if it’s after dark, because the Bellagio Fountain is directly across the street, and an outside table gives the best view around. But these fries are by far the best I’ve had. I’d go just for the fries. They’re long, thinner one way than the other, and perfectly done.

To have the fries, I have to go much further than Pittsburgh, and if I’m in Chicago, I’m more likely going to Gibson’s or Weber than a French restaurant. I don’t really like Vegas all that much, so I’m not going to be there often. So that leaves a pretty good second place french fry, from none other than the Original Hot Dog Shop in Oakland.

The place isn’t clean, ever. It is known by many as the “Dirty O”, or just the “O”, but the “dirty” part comes from the Health Department’s numerous closings of the O over the years. Most customers don’t seem to mind, and I’ve never let it stop me from going.

As you can see from the photo, there’s a spot for hundreds of pounds of potatoes in the back at the O. This isn’t for show; they go through potatoes like mad. There’s a reason for that… They’re great fries!

Their secret isn’t even a secret. First, they’re a good sized cut, not too big so that the fry is all ‘inside’, not to thin so that the fries are hard and get cold fast. They’re just right (as Goldilocks would say, though I can’t see her finding a table that’s just right… they all need to be cleaned most likely!). Secondly, the fries are double fried.

Yep, double fried, the way fries are supposed to be done. The way McDonald’s should do their fries. The way cooking shows (even Alton Brown) say to do fries. The result is a crunchy exterior with a nice, potato-y interior, and not a lot of grease. I would be willing to bet that, pound for pound, these fries have significantly less fat than McDonald’s, and way more flavor. That crunchy outside is just soooo good!

I guess health consciousness finally got to the O, and the large and extra large sizes aren’t offered anymore. I could be wrong since my wife ordered the fries, but the medium looks to be about double a McDonald’s large, at least. With a side of cheese, these are cheese fries to be envied by the lesser fries in the world.

And that brings out what is one of the things I like about Pittsburgh… A lot of the food is just honest, blue collar food that anyone can like, but there are places like the O that take pride in making this food really well. Not everything has to be fancy all the time, but there’s no reason not to make it the best, or second best in this case.

About Curt McAdams

I guess I'm a bit of a foodie, learning to cook from my mom, then getting obsessed with outdoor cooking, competition barbecue, bread baking and just about all things food. Lately, I've been trying to upgrade my photography skills a bit, though I still have a long way to go.

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  1. pittsburgh style is the way my best friend prefers his steak – charred on the outside, and bloody in the middle! :o)

  2. Nicki, that’s it… Pittsburgh rare means charred quickly on the outside, leaving the middle all good and red! :)

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