Monday, October 3, 2011
Review: The verdict on In-N-Out Burger’s fries
Within two minutes, the piping hot fries are lukewarm with the texture of cardboard.
Salty. Greasy. Goodness?
When surveying the endless crowd of In-N-Out burger devotees, one question rings far and wide: “What’s up with the fries?”
Fresh-peeled potatoes are cut on-site daily, and each serving is fried in good-for-you cottonseed oil, finished off with a dash of salt and pepper. With that simplicity, still, they are commonly considered to be the worst item on In-N-Out's menu.
The heralded burger arrives on a red plastic tray with these standard looking fries in the chain’s signature red and white cardboard basket. To the touch and feel, all seems well. The first bite is still hot, unadulterated, and pure. On the tongue, the texture is almost chalky. It’s as if they're not fried to the standard, golden crunch. Nevertheless, it’s a fry and it's piping hot.
Bite two is dipped in ketchup and bite three in chocolate shake. Both are underwhelming as the sweet condiments erase any hint of a mixed-texture, fried, savory treat. Within two minutes, the basket goes cold and any hope for an enjoyable ride with the famed cheeseburger is dashed. The now-room-temperature fries are like cardboard and easily break in half with no noise or show – just a mealy, dry demise.
As part of the not-so-secret “secret menu,” there are two options to alter the fries to a tastier, albeit less health-conscious treat: “animal style” and “well-done.” “Animal style” may be a fan-favorite, but it’s hardly a way to justify the fries as satisfying: The fries are topped with two pieces of melted American cheese, a heaping portion of diced, grilled onions, and a massive dollop of In-N-Out “spread” (a creamy special sauce akin to thousand island dressing). Any hint of potato taste is lost with animal style.
“Well-done,” on the other hand, is a full order of brown, crispy fries – the ones you find at the very bottom of the basket. These medium cut potato fingers are closer to par because they add a crispier finish-out and more of that deep fried sensation. But the dull, un-inspiring taste still lingers. The salt and peppered bites call for perhaps a more diversified seasoning a la Burger House. Or maybe a more artery-clogging fry bath in, say, canola, the choice oil of Whataburger and McDonalds.
It seems the dilemma on In-N-Out’s fries boils down to a question of fry integrity. Is the future of fries adapting to the taste of healthier versions? Or is the purpose of such a burger-mate to satisfy our craving for something plain greasy, salty, and oh-so-good? We think it's the latter.
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