Chili cheese fries are one of the indecent indulgences often found at sports bars and other exceedingly casual eateries. It somehow always manages to work well enough even when made with poorly fried fries that have spent eons in deep freeze, indifferent chili, and a gloppy, refined orange cheese-food substance; at least it does for me. The combination of hunger and beer are likely contributing factors.
I was a little surprised to find a version of it at the Red Lion on Shepherd, where I have long liked the food. The dish is listed innocuously under the title, “Keema Fries,” and described as “Loads of French fries smothered with Cheese and our Keema.” As you would expect with the kitchen the quality of the Red Lion, their version is a bit better and more interesting than the usual. Not more refined, though; it is still an expectedly hearty, messy preparation.
At the heart of the dish is a generous portion of keema, which is ladled atop the fries. The keema is flavorful tender minced lamb meat that has been stewed in slew of spices. It is terrific. The fries are thick and sturdy. Unlike the typical chili cheese fries, these actually hold their shape and do not become a mushy muddle. There was not much in the way of cheese, just a few shreds of a mild cheddar – joined with a bit a diced scallions or chives – but, not matter, the dish was delicious. Owner Craig Mallinson suggested that it could be improved with the addition of two fried eggs atop of the meat, which mixes very well with the sauce of the meat. If your cholesterol is too low you might want to give it a try.
The Keema Fries, sans eggs, went well with a pint of bitter, too, a very important consideration.
The Red Lion
2316 S Shepherd (between Fairview and Gray), 77019, (713) 782-3030