There are occasions when even the best of us have that animalistic craving for something basic, something wonderful, something loaded with cheese and bacon. After all, as City of Aters know, everything is better with bacon.
I am waxing on about the perfect burger starter, the loaded cheese fries. We know they probably are not the healthiest of dishes to cross our plate, but everything in moderation. That and a few extra miles on the treadmill make things good again.
In preparation for my study into this appetizer, I scoured the city for the perfect example of all things fried, loaded with cheese, jalapenos and bacon. My journey took me to such luminescent restaurants such as Outback Steakhouse, Fat Daddy's, Snookie's and Stan's Blue Note, and they all have terrific cheese fries. But I needed something nuclear powered for this showdown. Something off the charts.
For our Toque to Toque battle today we visit two qualified and long-time residents in the fries market. Please enter Snuffer's Restaurant and Bar and Scotty P's Hamburgers for the Cheese Fries Coronary Conflict.
The cheese fries phenomenon is worldwide and cheese fries have many names and faces.
In Ireland you would order taco fries that include lettuce, tomato, ground beef and a special sauce. Travel to the UK for their cheesy chips and find something much simpler -- fries with a mound of cheesy goodness melted on top.
Throughout our country you will be offered a variation in almost every state. Southern Californians will swear by In-N-Out's animal fries that include melted cheese, grilled onions and Thousand Island dressing. Our friends in Philadelphia have their Philly fries that are simply doused with Cheez Whiz.
In New Jersey order the dish as disco fries and you will enjoy fries with brown gravy. Venture to the Great White North for a similar item called poutine. Poutine is available virtually everywhere in Canada from McDonald's to the ultra chic restaurant serving haute cuisine. The differences will astound even the greatest of gourmands.
A simple order of poutine includes a fresh-cut fried potato sprinkled with cheese curds and smothered with a rich, brown veal gravy. High-end versions might include foie gras and other delicacies. For a local version of poutine, visit Marlo's House in Garland. This self-proclaimed Canadian Mennonite-style restaurant regularly serves poutine but keeps obscure hours.
For our study today we are zeroing in on the local version that should include fresh-cut fried potatoes, cheddar cheese, jalapenos, chives and plenty of bacon. There is also a well of ranch dressing that should be supplied on the side.
My first visit is to Snuffer's. This is hardly my first visit to Snuffer's, since many of us had our prom dates at the Dallas legend since its inception just over 30 years ago. Some claim that Pat Snuffer invented cheese fries, but he will tell you different. He claims to have invented cheddar fries. The difference would include shavings from a 40 pound block of heavily aged Wisconsin cheese, hand-cut potatoes and the bacon. Loads of bacon that Snuffer fries up daily.
"We did not originally have cheddar fries on our menu, but after some SMU girls asked for cheese to be added to their fries we continued to perfect the recipe. More and more people would see the fries being ordered and wanted to try them."
So the legend was born.
I cannot simply order the cheddar fries by themselves, I will need a burger to wash the fries down. I place my order and wait but a few minutes before my small order of cheddar fries arrives slathered in the aged cheddar and wildly topped with mountains of jalapenos, bacon and fresh chopped chives, reminiscent of the seven hills of Rome. Majestic, glorified and legendary.
At first, the fries are difficult to maneuver. It is best to take on the closest flank and attack with vigor. The freshness of the fries is evident, and the landslide of cheese gives off a waft of steaminess that assures its freshness is at its peak. The fries are not crisp, but instead creamy and just slightly al dente.
I am cautious not to overindulge, since I have another date with a potato across town. I toss my cash down on the counter and head to Scotty P's. There are nearly as many locations for Scotty P's as are for Snuffers, and one is close to the Snuffer's I selected. Bonus.
The menu at Scotty P's can lend a chuckle. I have never seen a burger joint offer a bottle of Dom Perignon free with the purchase of two burgers, an order of fries and onion rings, for a mere 300 bucks. I wasn't in the mood for Champagne, so I place my order for cheese fries.
When my order buzzer flails across the table I am assured that my fries are ready. I pick up my fries and stare at their wonder. For basically the same price of Snuffers, I get a small order of cheese fries that also include jalapenos, bacon and chives. But the bacon is not the fresh version, but rather pre-made. And the fries, although a wonderful attempt, are of the frozen variety. The toppings seem to take on a portion controlled mandate that alludes Snuffers.
Today's Toque is a hands-down victory to Snuffer's for their true example of how to please their self-indulgent guests. For their daily fresh cut fries, quality aged cheddar, and the total lack of a freezer on premises, I proclaim Snuffer's the victor of this Toque to Toque Cheese Fry Coronary Conflict.
When Pat Snuffer called for interview he reminded me that if we must inquire about the calories of a certain item, then perhaps it is best to indulge in moderation and share with a few friends. Great advice.