Can French fries be healthy? There’s a new fry stand in town that has customers praying that it comes close to it.
A long line of customers welcomed the debut of French Fry Heaven last week at the Natick Collection food court. They may not have known it, because the menu doesn’t say so, but the fries may be healthier than the average fry: these are baked first with just a tiny bit of oil, and for each order quickly fried in this cool looking fry-o-lator machine.
So…are they healthy?
“They are as healthy as a fry can be,” believes Aramis Jordan, the owner of the Natick fry stand. He said the Belgian-style fries are gluten free, made with canola, and have no trans fats, preservatives or MSG. But, he adds, “Everybody loves fries, but I don’t expect people to eat them 7 days a week. It’s a treat.
“There’s no coatings or chemicals or sugar added to the fries themselves,” Aramis said. “The toppings are the indulgence.”
Because the company switched the oil from peanut to canola, Aramis is awaiting the new nutrition info, so he couldn’t provide fat and calorie content yet. But the fries are clean. The fryer oil is filtered through a two-stage process two times a day. “It cleans it and so the oil lasts twice as long — we don’t throw out as much,” said Aramis, who knows a thing or two about nasty oil from his stint with the fry baskets at a fast food chain. What’s nice for the workers, too, is that they aren’t standing over those oily fry baskets, and there’s no smoky chimney to clean.
Customers have a choice of potato or sweet potato fries. Despite flavors such as Cheeburger and Canadian Poutine, Chicken Salt and Spicy Wing sauce, the fries are vegetarian (except if you order the baco-bits that come with the Baked Tater fries, also topped with sour cream and cheese sauce. Are Baco-bits even made with meat?) The Tater, by the way, is the crowd favorite, says Aramis.
Everything has a heavenly theme, with “Angels” (classic fries), “Saints,” or sweet potato fries, and “Archangels,” or specialty fries. The cones of fries come in three sizes: prices at the Angel level start at Cupid $3.99, Perfect $4.99, and Flock of 3 Cupids for $10.99. Flavors include mayo, BBQ, malt vinegar, ranch dressing and “wing” sauce, as well as regular ketchup. Another dollar for the Saints and Archangels, or $13.99 for three.
I tried a few of the combinations, and really, the fries are not greasy; there’s no visible oil sheen on the fries, and later on you aren’t tasting that bad-oil aftertaste.
The Cheeburger is made with dill, cheese, ketchup and mustard over classic fries, making it taste just like a McDonald’s burger. When I think about a Mickey D burger, in fact, I’m not really tasting any beef: it’s all about the condiments and the bun. Here, the Cheeburger is just like my early-childhood gourmet creation: a fast-food burger stuffed with fries.
“When I first tasted it, I freaked out, it really tasted like a burger,” said Aramis, who said it’s his wife’s favorite. His kid’s fave? The Festival, with marshmallow and powdered sugar over sweet potato fries. “It tastes just like a funnel cake!” said Aramis. In my opinion, almost: I still tasted the marshmallow, but it was still a tasty treat. A good way to get your kid to eat sweet potatoes, right?
I loved the cheese fries with a dose of truffle salt; it was a little too salty, but a nice umami bomb. Aramis had marveled the other day when a 10 year old ordered fries with ghost pepper salt. I tried them too, with the mayo — a thicker, English-style mayo. Maybe the mayo quieted the impact of the world’s hottest pepper, so while no tears were shed, my mouth was tingly warm for the entire walk out of the mall.
Next time I come, I’ll try the Canadian Poutine (brown gravy and mozzarella, still vegetarian) or the French Quarter Cajun fries with remoulade sauce. There’s also chili seasoning and cheese on the Arizona Cheese, and Garlic and Parmesan sauce flavor.
When you ask for them, see if they can mix the toppings so that you can get all the fries a little flavor. Otherwise, use your special fly fry skills and make sure each fry gets a bit of topping, even the bottom ones. Or ask for a side of sauce for an extra charge.
I also recommend adding the “Ethereal” salt for another 50 cents: black truffle or the ghost pepper for the adventurous; pink Himalayan or smoky Bonfire for the foodie; and for the vegetarian who misses the taste of chicken, “Aussie” chicken salt, which is unFowled.
So are these fries a gift from God? Maybe not for those watching their blood pressure. But for a treat when you haven’t had fries in ages? Sure. Even better: share with friends!
Note: Aramis will also soon open two more local franchises of this national chain in Emerald One in Attleboro and Square One in Saugus.