Edit: I’ve since returned to BFC and many of the issues I had previously have been addressed. Click here to read about it.
Boise Fry Company is one of those places that I’ve been hearing about forever but never went to because it’s downtown, and I hate downtown. I despise paid parking, loathe one way streets, and am flat-out sickened by people driving in circles at ten miles an hour to show off their cars, sound systems and tans. Still, I make it downtown every once in a while because, let’s face it, that’s where the hockey games are. And I guess the Co-op since we won’t be seeing a Whole Foods around here anytime soon (sigh). Occasionally I even manage to catch a meal downtown, though it had been quite some time before my beloved suggested we swing by for fries with “burgers on the side” after a sweltering and smelly trip to the Boise Zoo. As a cheeseburger and fry devotee, I was more than happy to go along. M’lady got the Daily Special #1 for $8.79, comprised of a cheeseburger with a small order of russet fries and a pint of soda. The kids split a big order of fries between them.
|Regular-cut russet fries|
As for me, I got the bacon cheeseburger, but my real reason for wanting to visit this establishment was something they call “The Bourgeois”. The Boise Fry Company is really famous for the fact that they have seven different kinds of potatoes and the like (russet, gold, white, sweet, yam, purple and Okinawa) that they can prepare in five different cuts (regular, homestyle, curly, shoestring and “po’ balls”). Now they don’t have all of these possible combinations available every day, but there’s enough variety to keep you satisfied if that’s what you’re craving. To add to this, there are about half a dozen varieties of salt (smoked, rosemary, etc.) and at least as many dipping sauces (fry sauce, spicy fry sauce, sour Thai, garlic aioli, blueberry ketchup, sweet mustard, and so on).
|Clockwise from top: fry sauce, sour thai, garlic aioli, blueberry ketchup|
The portions are generous and the prices while not outstanding are reasonable for an independent restaurant specializing in what most people think of as a side dish, from $2.39 to $4.79 depending on size and type for the fries and $5.29 for a standard burger all the way up to $8.49 for a bison burger with bacon and cheese. Beer is available (and wine if I’m not mistaken), the standard array of Pepsi products are in the soda fountain, and they have milkshakes so long as you only want 16 oz of chocolate or vanilla. There’s even a vegan burger on the menu. But back to The Bourgeois… The Bourgeois is the Cadillac of the fry options. Described in their menu as “chef specialty” and “truly amazing”, The Bourgeois is Boise Fry Company’s “finest cut fries, flash fried in duck fat and garnished with black truffle salt”. And how can you not try an order of fries that retails for $8.00?! Apparently this menu selection takes longer to prepare (perhaps they had to catch a duck?), so while everyone else at the table was eating their fries, I had only my burger to keep me company.
|Beef, cheese and bacon burger|
This was by far one of the better burgers I’ve had in a while. Not in the huge, greasy and satisfying diner or backyard barbecue kind of way, but in the a burger can still be a very good sandwich comprised of strong flavors and top shelf ingredients kind of way. The meat was high quality and perfectly well-done without being overdone, the cheese was perfectly and evenly melted, the bacon crispy but not burnt, the lettuce and tomato fresh, the garlic aioli flavorful but not overpowering, and the red onion gastrique (a first for me) something of a revelation. I could find no fault with this burger at all. Even the bun was good! And this is what they consider their side dish! When I was about halfway through my burger, my name was called to alert me that my fries were finally ready…
The first thing that grabbed me was the size of the order. I guess for that price I shouldn’t have expected a small, but this would have been a meal by itself. The smell was tantalizing, and I loved the flavor from the very first bite, alien though it was. I was already wondering where I could obtain my own black truffle salt and what uses I could put it to when a sort of mass realization swept over the table: the fries here simply are not that good. Bear with me here. I’m sure just like steaks, people have their own idea of what the perfect french fry is. To me, the perfect fry is more golden than brown, crispy enough on the outside to stand erect and almost mashed potato-like in the center. Furthermore, they should be salted right after cooking and left to drain as much oil onto a clean towel as possible before being served while still piping hot. This is rarely possible, but when this combination is achieved it’s a wonderful thing. Do you agree? Now take a look at the first picture above again. Those are limp, brown, greasy fries. And while I expected my duck fat-fried fries to be a little on the oily side, I don’t know why the russets would share the same fate. My theory is that the hook is their variety of materials, salts and sauces, and this was enough to keep us amused for a while. Unfortunately though, the fries just aren’t enough to stand on their own. This was severely disappointing considering the hype surrounding the place and how amazing their burgers are. And to the people who have said something along the lines of “you have to get the purple fries with the rosemary salt and garlic aioli!” or are thinking about it, if that’s their best then why bother with all the other options? Would it really be that bad to be “just another burger joint” if you’re one of the best in town? And to those who would say that a brown, limp, greasy fry is fine so long as it tastes good, I can say only that we had an eight year-old with us. Children, while you can argue that their palates are unrefined, are simple creatures when it comes to food. They don’t care about where the potatoes come from, if they’re organic, what type of oil was used…they might be somewhat impressed by color and shape, true…but in the end, what matters to them is whether or not it tastes good. When this particular child was asked how the fries tasted, she replied “They’re flavorless. This is horrible.” And this child, while notoriously picky and a little dramatic, does like fries. Just not these. Would I go back? In a word, yes. A truly great burger is worth braving downtown for, especially if you’re in the area anyway and the restaurant isn’t in the heart of downtown itself. I’d likely even try one of the other unusual fry types, but would do so mostly out of curiosity and never losing sight of the fact that, to me, they are the side dish. My quest for the best french fries in town continues…