As I bit into my first fry at the Adams Street location of Epic Burger, a suppressed culinary memory suddenly resurfaced: with the exception of McDonald's, I never liked French fries until I moved to Chicago. Given the state of most of the from-frozen, heat-lamp-held offerings, can you really blame me? My thinking then was that limp, greasy, bland, potatoes were a waste of money and valuable appetite space when I could just get an extra (or bigger) burger or hot dog. But after being in Chicago for nearly three years, I can't imagine stopping into my favorite hot dog stand and not finishing my whole order of fries. By now, I even have a soft spot for the from frozen, BBQ sauce soaked ones at Chicago's best tips and links combo joint.
But it's not like my adult palate development has opened some french fry door for me (a rather hilarious concept, actually); it's just that the places here that serve the best fries make it pretty easy to develop a later-in-life addiction. Perfect French fries are pretty straightforward in theory and practice: Potatoes are cut using a wall mounted cutter or a knife, blanched at 325 for about 4 minutes, drained and held until an order is placed, fried to order in 375 degree oil until crisp, liberally salted, and then passed hot across the counter. Wham, bam, thank you ma'am.
So what does all this have to do with the Fries ($1.99) at Epic Burger? Well, anywhere outside Chicago, they'd be out of the park. They have a strong potato taste, are twice fried to a nice golden browned color, and feature a crispy exterior that gives way to a fluffy interior. They remind me a lot of Five Guys' fries, actually. But something was a bit off. While the menu boasts a seasoning of pure sea salt, the salt guy must have been off when I stopped in. And while I appreciate the trans-fat free fry oil they use, these fries seem to have been centrifuged until bone dry. A faint oil reminder on your french fries is never something places should completely shy away from.
In the end, I might not put these fries up against the ones at Redhot Ranch or Longman & Eagle. But they're a damn good pairing to one of the better fast food burgers in Chicago. When it comes to fries, isn't that what it's all about?