Whatever the real-world numbers, though, Im willing to believe that Satisfries are healthier than McDonalds fries, because they taste so much lousier. Burger Kings new batter, which is supposed to improve the nutritional value of the potato sticks by preventing them from absorbing so much cooking oil, also appears to prevent them from frying properly.
Though they brown nicely, theyre unpleasantly mushy inside and taste less of potatoes than cooking oil. Satisfries have an old-school crinkle cut so they dont get mixed up with what Burger King employees now refer to by the unfortunate sobriquet old fries. But believe me, your mouth will never mistake one of these pasty newcomers with the crisp originals.
Or anybody elses fries, for that matter. To give our taste test some context, I visited four other revered deep-fry oases: McDonalds (obviously), the up-and-coming Five Guys chain (which only began expanding outside its Washington D.C. birthplace a decade ago), Coral Gables upscale OneBurger (bad fries would be a zoning violation), and Aventuras Bourbon Steak, which in addition to $100 steaks made from hand-massaged Japanese wagyu cattle offers the spoiler alert best fries in the known universe.
My approach to evaluating fast food is generally to grab a fistful of it, stuff in my mouth, and grunt either good or I told you we should have gotten pizza. But my girlfriend, whos written a bunch of cookbooks (though never one with anything as useful as how to make the Big Mac special sauce), insisted that we keep a bunch of charts ranking the various fries on color and crispness, greasiness, potato flavor, seasoning and heat when served.
Satisfries came in dead last with just 15.5 points out of a possible 25. Five Guys fries, the greasiest of the bunch the brown bag in which theyre served will be soaked with the peanut oil in which theyre cooked by the time you get it from the counter to the table were next, with 17.5 points. Burger King old fries came in fourth with a very respectable 20 points, getting dinged slightly on seasoning (over-salted) and flavor. McDonalds was just ahead with 21 points. And OneBurger, a nondescript black box from the outside but one of the true holy places of burger-and-fry cuisine within, served delicious fries that were truly excellent in nearly every respect: 24 points.
The ringer in this competition was Bourbon Steak, a perennial presence on lists of the best 10 restaurants in America and better known for its porterhouses slow-poached in butter than as a competitor to the Satisfry. This is the sort of place where french fries arent called a side dish but an amuse bouche.
And amusing they are. Each order comes in three stainless steel cups, together with a sauce for each. In one cup the fries are dusted with rosemary; in another, with smoked paprika and in the other, a subtle onion salt. Dips include a smoky barbecue sauce, a smoked-onion aioli in another, and spiced ketchup in the third. Then theres the secret ingredient: Theyre cooked in duck fat, which probably gives them their gusto, but remarkably, the fries have not a speck of grease, are light and airy and yet have a potato flavor that does not quack.
The very best thing about Bourbon Steaks fries: Theyre free. Of course, to get them, you have to order one of the entrees, which start at $40 and curve sharply upward. (I dont even want to guess what the menu warns is market price for the Maine lobster pot pie with truffle cream might be.)
Heres a tip that, unfortunately for the Heralds bookkeepers, was passed to me only after Id eaten at Bourbon Steak. If you sit at the bar, you can order the fries for just $5. Thats twice as much as a bag of Satisfries, and about 26,000 times the taste. Burger King needs to hire a duck-oil scientist.