1885 Commercial Drive
I have already proclaimed my love of French Fries in the past, so it should come as no surprise that I’m willing to try any and every place that serves french fries in the hopes of finding a great fry. Unfortunately, most places fail to follow the art of the great fry. So when i hear of a place that serves “great fries”, AND the best poutine in BC, i get excited. Very excited.
Now, for our non-Canadian readers, allow me to explain what poutine is. It’s a traditional Quebec dish that combines french fries with fresh cheese curd and gravy. At one point, it was rated the unhealthiest food for you in the world, which should tell you a few things. This is not diet food. And if taste is inversely proportional to health, poutine should taste darn good. And it does. Crisp fries with soft interior, covered in a light gravy with fresh cheese curds that should “squeak”. Any place, like Belgian Fries, that even suggests they serve the best poutine, is worth trying.
Located on a busy retail strip on Commercial Drive, Belgian Fries definitely stands out. Large awning, ample seating on a corner, it’s hard to miss.
The interior, recently renovated, is also hard to miss. Bright, spacious, Belgian Fries has a comfortable feel – like an upscale cafeteria.
For a classic poutine, there are three essential ingredients. Great fries, fresh cheese curds, and a nicely balanced gravy.
Let’s review the criteria for great Belgian Fries:
- freshly cut, irregularly shaped
- cooked (fried) twice
- fluffy on the inside, crispy on the outside
- a distinct potato taste
- at least 10 mm thick
The fries at Belgian fries almost make the cut. They are freshly cut, fried twice, at least 10mm thick, and have a distinct potato taste. On the day i am there, the problem is that the most critical parameter is lacking – #3.
The fries are soft and soggy – even before the addition of gravy and cheese. They are soft on the outside, soft on the inside. Undercooked, with a bland, oily texture. These fries were not prepared with care and attention. They were, in fact, highly disappointing.
The gravy itself was a nice consistency – not too runny, not too thick, but lacked any depth of flavour. It tasted watery. The cheese curds were fine – not the freshest i’ve had before, but were acceptable for the plate themselves.
A regular serving of fries come with a choice of dips. Aioli is the standard, but other creative choices are available. These dips are good. I just wish the fries were as well.
Sadly, Belgian Fries was a very big let down. I went in with high expectations – from the praises of reviewers, online critics, chowhounders, and the Belgian Fry website itself, this should have been a home run. A guy who loves fries, and a shop that serves great ones. Unfortunately, what you get at Belgian Fries are tepid, pale, soft facsimiles of what great fries really are. Luckily, they are licensed. You can drown your sorrows like i did on a few pints instead.