After long ago upgrading from fast food spuds that were defrosted and deep-fried to pre-soaked, twice-fried shoestring fries, it seemed French fry technology could advance no further. Or so we thought. Heck, if a disposable razor can have five blades, why can't a potato be fried three times?
On a recent visit to District, we discovered their chili cheese fries, blanketed in melted Hook's cheddar and ragged chunks of beef amid a pungent red sauce. The base for all this is a jagged assemblage of steak fries — potato wedges that ought to call to mind the mushy, flavorless side dishes of a junior high cafeteria. Except they don't. These broad wedges are substantial, not an appetizer to be trifled with, yet they stay crisp and light, even under the assault of the chili. How does chef Kevin Napier achieve this contradiction? He fries them not once, not twice, but three times.
Thrice-fried potatoes could have been an exercise in superfluity, like adding megapixels to a camera with a terrible lens. But Napier, who served as chef de cuisine under Kris Morningstar and took over when Morningstar decamped from the George Abou-Daoud empire in early October, makes them as natural and necessary as butter on toast.
Since getting the run of the kitchen, Napier has changed the menu, adding standout starters like SPAM sliders topped with a quail egg and steamed mussels in a spicy curry broth. The pretzel bites are still nigh impossible to put down, and the Yorkshire pudding, flecked with chives, is comfort food nirvana. All of these “starters,” which come in fairly sizable portions, elevate the “bar bites” concept well above the typical gastro-whatever. But for our money, it's the $7 dish of chili cheese fries that we crave again and again.
EAT THIS NOW: Chili cheese fries ($7) at District.