Any critic will tell you that you can't judge a restaurant on the basis of one dish. Hey, even a broken clock is right twice a day, right? On the other hand, you can tell a lot about a chef by the attention he lavishes on even the most humble menu item. Take chef-owner Shawn Monday at Hudson's One Red Door, and his 48-hour process for creating french fries.
Sure, on Monday's menu of upscale Americana, most everything rocks, from the spicy pan-fried shishito peppers to the extraordinary braised short ribs — two boneless pillows of beefy deliciousness so succulent and tender it's a wonder they don't float off the plate. Still, Monday's time-consuming quest for the perfect frites says volumes about his precision and devotion to excellence.
According to Monday, the two-day process goes like this: Skin-on spuds are hand sliced into slim spears, soaked in cold water, parboiled in salted water, carefully dried, chilled, fried once in lard at low heat, rested, and then fried a second time to order, a la minute, before being tossed with sea salt, rosemary, parsley, and garlic and piled onto a plate. The result is the very definition of the perfect fry: golden, greaseless, salty, savory, almost shatteringly crisp outside, and soft, creamy, and comforting within. No surprise that they're addictive as hell.
“I guess I could buy frozen fries,” he ponders. “These are an awful lot of work for four bucks. But maybe people appreciate the difference.”
Take it from me, chef: We do.