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Don’t get us wrong — the potato is a fine food, and French fries? Hell, they’re scalding hot oil’s gift to the world (suck it, state fair beer-battered stick of butter). But as vegetables become a larger part of the American diet, chefs around town are throwing leafy greens, roots, and even the occasional fruit into the deep fryer. This is nothing new: Tempura has been around for nearly half a millennium, fried pickles had their moment in the sun a few years ago, and chances are if you can fry it, somebody already has. But these non-potato fries are still worth seeking and celebrating. Here are five great versions in NYC
5. Avocado fries at El Almacen, 557 Driggs Avenue, Brooklyn; 718-218-7284 This Argentinian canteen with a shopkeep’s aesthetic grills up plenty of meat, but the restaurant’s avocado fries — coarsely breaded and crunchy, the avocado rendered pudding soft — hold their own. Tangy and floral, a cup of yerba mate ketchup sits to the side. Frankly, these babies are just fine condiment-free.
4. Fried green beans at Sticky’s Finger Joint, 31 West 8th Street, 212-777-7131 While this fast casual ode to childhood has engaged in some questionable practices — an appearance on Bobby Flay’s 3 Days to Open being the least questionable among them — the greaseless chicken fingers here are an incredible achievement. Had enough breaded poultry? The obvious accompaniment to fried food is more fried food, and these battered green beans, with their thin, shatter-crisp coating, make a good companion to the bird. Dip them into one of Sticky’s proprietary sauces — we suggest sticking with an aioli, like tomato or garlicky “Vampire.”
3. Watermelon fries at Yerba Buena, East Village and West Village Julian Medina’s pair of Pan-Latin restaurants are beloved for their fresh juice cocktails and lively atmosphere. Amidst the snacks is a section of unusual fries, including avocado, hearts of palm, and watermelon. Also served with yerba mate ketchup, the tea’s herbal notes pair particularly well with the watermelon, which retains an odd, muted sweetness within its breading.
2. Carrot fries at Narcissa, 21 Cooper Square, 212-228-3344 André Balazs tapped John Fraser to run this farm-to-table restaurant named after one of Balazs’ dairy cows at his Locusts on Hudson estate. Fraser’s California-influenced cuisine is light in that it’s vegetable-heavy, although the chef’s carrot fries are fairly gut-busting. Fried in a sheer tempura batter, the root vegetables achieve a rust color; the batter an almost doughnut-like sweetness. Dipped into jalapeño tofu sauce, they could and should be the centerpiece of a vegan fast food joint (RIP Foodswings).
1. Chickpea fries at General Assembly, 360 Park Avenue South, 212-951-7111 Fourth Wall Restaurants recently scrapped its floundering Polynesian concept Hurricane Steak & Sushi (nee Hurricane Club) in favor of this broad-scoped New American spot. Chef Craig Koketsu stuck around to dish out plates like rabbit wellington and a selection of steaks (including a lamb steak frites). Our advice? Saddle up to the bar and order a cup of Koketsu’s chickpea fries, which are filled not with mealy ground garbanzo beans, but with creamy, molten hummus. Dusted with parmesan and scented with rosemary, the combination of delicate chickpea flour crust and hummus makes for an addictive snack — too bad they only come five to an order.