When I was a child, I was in love with Stephen Fry. We even corresponded for a couple of years, and he was very kind to me. For one reason or another, we both ended up married to different people, but the obsession must have stuck in my mind because to this day I am very keen on tracking down and devouring the perfect fry. My mature self has more realistic expectations though and I contain my stalking to the potato kind.
Top local contender until very recently was Elevation Burger. Yes, I'm aware this is a topic that divides neighbour from neighbour. Their fries were on the soggy side; I'm not denying it. But they ticked more boxes than most in my fry checklist.
1. Must be made from potatoes.
2. Said potatoes must have come to the kitchen in original potato form, not as readymade chips.
3. Potatoes must never have been frozen.
Those three are the musts. You may disagree. (And there are times when you're not looking for the perfect fry, anyway - cravings don't always encompass the best example of any food, or I would be scarfing down bags of dried apricots instead of my hoard of Rowntree's Fruit Gums. So I do understand that for some, or for some sometimes, a McD's fry might be the one and only.) My list of desirable attributes goes on:
4. Skin on. Yes please. Tastier, adds crunch.
5. Soft-ish. If there was a nicer word for soggy, I'd insert it here. I have a literally sensitive palate -Pringles make me bleed.
6. Just crispy enough to absorb malt vinegar without getting mushy.
7. Covered in malt vinegar.
8. Organic, fair trade, socially-conscious, locally-sourced, low carbon footprint potatoes. Grown by a happy farmer. Who does only good in the world.
Why am I thinking about fries to this almost excessive degree? This week I went to a tasting at Steak Escape and I think I might have found my next fry base. Steak Escape opens at The Walk down at The Wave next week and it's a really nicely-done grill and sandwich place, an Ohio-bred franchise, managed here by the enthusiastic and very patient Nadim. I questioned him closely about the fries, and he assured me that each and every one is made right there in the kitchens, out of a genuine potato. The team do the frying right in front of you. The skin is on. The crunch is there. The fries are hot and fresh and delicious, and there's malt vinegar on the table - all in all criteria 1 through 7 are met, placing Steak Escape firmly on the FryMaster radar.