Pommes Frites – 1 item, 30 sauces

Scout Mob had a 100% off deal for Pommes Frites, a tiny shack near St. Marks Place that serves up Belgian-style french fries. Since they’re thickly sliced, it’s more similar to a potato wedge in size. You might have guessed from the name that the primary item sold is an order of fries. What attracts people to this one trick pony are the 30 dipping sauces available. Belgians usually enjoy their pommes frites with a variety of sauces other than ketchup. With unconventional options ranging from Wasabi Mayo to Smoked Eggplant, it’s not easy to settle on just one. Fortunately, the samples that you’re allowed are quite generous. Seating is typical of a St. Marks establishment (but turnover is high).

The Regular size ($4.50) is enough to share with a friend, assuming you’ve walked in for a snack. Making fries requires very little skill, so I wasn’t surprised when they arrived golden brown and soft on the inside. Because of the thickness, they absorbed a lot more oil than your typical American french fry, and were quite greasy.

The potato slices are fried twice in a simple soybean oil. Contrary to popular belief, this process is not meant to cook through the center first, and create a crisp shell later. The real reason is far more complicated. Be aware that there’s nothing innovative or novel about using two fryers (even McDonalds does it).

The main attraction was the dipping sauces. I was given the option of one sauce, but I refused to be restricted ($2.50 for 3 | $1.00 ea). I settled on the Vietnamese Pineapple, Sweet Mango Chutney, and the Pomegranate Teriyaki. With the exception of the pineapple mayo, the sauces were difficult to decipher. There was very little difference between the mango and the pomegranate teriyaki. I suspected both used a similar base and were subtly infused with flavorings. Overall, the sauces had names that were far more interesting than their tastes. In the end, it was the overwhelming flavor of an oily potato that dominated each bite.

Pommes Frites’ claim to fame is based on being another gimmicky tourist magnet. The variety is intriguing, but I had more fun staring at the selection of dips than tasting them. I’m willing to acknowledge that I may have picked the wrong dips, but the fries alone were mediocre at best. If you insist on stopping by, have a drink or two beforehand. It would make good “drunk food.”

Pommes Frites (site) ★★★☆☆
123 2nd Ave (between 7th St & St Marks Pl) map
New York, NY 10003
Neighborhood: East Village


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