Thursday, September 15, 2005
Brussels' best fry shack
At my first job, we had a little tradition by eating fries for lunch every Thursday. This was greatly stimulated by the fact that one of the best fry shops in Antwerp was around the corner. For those of you who have no clue about what I’m talking: fries are for Belgians what cheese and wine is for the French and Woursheshtershouresoursauce is for the English.
Sadly, when the office moved to the edge of the city, we were deprived of quality fries. Actually, there were many fry shops nearby, but of low quality. Most of them were little Pita or Dürum restaurants where you could also buy fries. But shoarma and fries just don’t mix; either you get crappy pitas or crappy fries. There was a dedicated Belgian fry shop a bit further, but this was one of the look-at-me-I’m-so-hygienic-I-rubbed-all-the-taste-out-of-my-fries variety. So our weekly tradition came to a virtual standstill.
Since almost two months though, I have a new job in Brussels. Up to now, I never tried one of the fry shops around my work, which was simply intolerable. Worryingly, there aren’t many about apparently. But thanks to advice of my colleagues, I was able to pinpoint two of them. So yesterday, despite the threat of adverse weather conditions on the long walk to my goal, I ventured to the Place Saint-Josse/Sint-Joost Plein.
First good sign: it was a real fry shack, looking a bit old and wobbly, with a real sense of tradition. Not one of those shiny-glossy-all-new-flashy-plastic-metallic-mirror-palaces. The grey-haired owner looked experienced, and had a large gold chain round his neck. But what struck me the most was the delicious smell invading my nose and making my mouth water. This wasn’t the smell of ordinary King Wendy Mc’Donalds Quicky deep-frozen fries soaking up vegetable oil. No, these were obviously fresh potato fries browning beautifully in cow’s fat.
There was quite a long line of people waiting, but fifteen minutes later I hurried back to the office with my steaming pack of delicacies (large fry with mayonnaise, ‘fricandelle/curryworst’ and ‘viandelle’). Full of anticipation I planted my fork in a large fry and tasted it – pure, without any sauce. And it was DELICIOUS, I tell you. I’ve rarely eaten such good fries. They were hand-cut, thick, soft in the middle, with nice brown edges and a taste that would convince you to give your left testicle for another bite. The mayonnaise wasn’t quite the best I’ve tasted yet, but wasn’t bad either. And both pieces of meat – fricandelle and viandelle – were fine too. So this good old fry shack will be rewarded an honorary place on my website’s Belgian fries page.
Now I know for sure, I am meant to work here, in the close proximity of this fry shack.