When is a fry not just a fry?
When it’s an extreme fry. When it’s a spuds-super-nacho.
Wickedly indulgent and packed with enough calories to sustain a camel across the Sahara, extreme french fry combinations have been making the rounds of New Orleans pubs.
Never before have so many cut potatoes been so lovingly adorned. Duck fat. Gravy. Bechamel. Pork debris. Roast beef debris.
Forget about the slim white paper packets of your childhood. Don’t even think about squirting on ketchup.
No longer content to be side dishes, these hand-cut, sometimes battered, sometimes double-fried, over-the-top main acts are several cuts beyond the Parmesan, rosemary and garlic treatments that wowed us a few years back.
The gourmet ante has been upped to include stick-to-your-ribs house-made sauces and house-smoked meats.
Nor are these a matter of dunking the fry basket and pouring on some canned chili.
Ask a chef about the prep for these frites and poutines, and you may be shocked to learn how long it takes — three days in some cases.
And yet, at under $9, extreme fries remain within reach. Perhaps too much so. For despite whatever we tell ourselves, how this time it’ll be different and we’ll show some real control, we will leave no fry behind.
Whether noshing away a recent heartbreak or sharing a pint and basket with a friend, extreme fries are the ultimate comfort food — often three or four comfort foods rolled into one.
At chatty, popular Mid City Yacht Club, patrons may be hard-pressed to choose between two nigh-perfect versions: savory Crawcheese Fries or the succulent, melt-on-the-tongue Roast Beef Debris and Gravy.
Showing up early for the game? Consider the Yacht Club’s weekend offering, the obliterative, don’t-say-they-didn’t-warn-you, Breakfast Bomb fry plate (cheese sauce, bacon and egg). At $7, it’s cheaper than bleacher seats, and even if the Saints lose, you won’t care.
Within striking distance, you’ll find the Celtic take at Rum and the Lash (the pub grub offshoot of Vietnamese eatery MoPho), in the kitchen at Finn McCool’s. Guaranteed to stave off famine, Lash’s Corned Beef Poutine serves up tangy and hearty bits of meat and cabbage slathered in a creamy stone-ground mustard and mozzarella curd sauce, all over a herd of beer-battered fries ($8).
Best bang for your buck? At a measly $3, the extreme fry trophy goes to The Bombay Club’s happy hour Cajun Poutine, offered 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week. (Good to know: all the Club’s heartily crafted happy hour options ring in at just $3 a pop, a price so low that it should be considered civic charity.)
But don’t let the Bombay’s low price or its wood-paneled English club theme fool you.
Executive Chef Ben McCauley’s Cajun Poutine is all Southern hospitality with thick wedge-cut fries, house-made pimento cheese sauce, gravy and pulled pork from local, family-run Chappapeela Farms.
This extreme roundup wouldn’t be complete without quick shout-outs to perennial fry faves like Bayou Beer Garden’s Disco Fries ($8.50; do not attempt the Hustle while eating) or Dat Dog’s no-holds-barred Cheddar, Bacon and Ranch Fries or its prophetically named Anna’s WTF — each of which runs less than $6.
Sadly untried as of this printing is Chef Nick Gile’s recent extreme fry pop-up, Fry and Pie, at the Hi-Ho Lounge. But Gile reports that the X-Fries have been the most popular: That’s fresh-cut fries, housemade chili, three cheeses, jalapeños, sour cream and fried onion rings.
Former executive chef at the Bombay Club and now at Richard Fiske’s Martini Bar, Gile’s current line up includes some half-dozen, pizza-sized options including the Hangover Special, the Midnight Cowboy and Death by Cheese.