Sunday, May 17, 2015

Lehigh Valley Mall
823 Lehigh Lifestyle Center
Whitehall, PA
Hours:  Mall hours

Spoon Rate:

The Lehigh Valley can now experience fries on a whole new level.  Local natives have brought an international delicacy to our local mall to totally enhance your next shopping meal or snack..   I had the privilege of sitting and dining with CEO, Richard Scott and his son, William, to learn the history of this recently-opened business, their passion for excellence, flavor and unique eating.  

Richard Scott ended his career in corporate America in May, 2013.  Looking for a change, he joined William, Penn State finance graduate, in this new endeavor.  Richard, born in England, had the opportunity to travel many places as a young boy, exposing him to the diverse expression of food around the globe.  At age 11, he lived in Brussels, Belgium and was exposed to one of their delicacies, pommes frites, meaning "apple of the earth."  Found in "street food" stands, pommes frites was served in cones with a side of mayo. 

Scotts' vision was to have a fast, casual eatery committed to local, fresh products.  While emphasizing the french fry, they wanted it to be distinct, accompanied by the entire dining experience.  Frites (pronounced Freets) seeks to offer us an authentic cultural experience, yet in a setting and delivery that appeals to American taste.  I respect this philosophy and it does not take long to recognize they have achieved their initial purpose.  Greeted by friendly, helpful staff and a clean, bright, modern surroundings, the atmosphere mirrors their personal commitment to excellence.   

A behind-the-scenes tour impressively revealed there is "nothing frozen" and "nothing from a can."  In fact, they removed the freezer upon obtaining this prime location at the Lehigh Valley Mall.   What is the secret ingredient that makes these fries extraordinary?  The time and care committed to each fresh USA Russet potato.  I learned that "sugar is the enemy of frying." The process of washing, cutting the ends, evenly slicing and rinsing the potatoes removes excess starch that could lead to burning.  Preparation of these potatoes is a 16-24 hour process.  This gives a whole new meaning to the expression "made with love!"  After soaking overnight, there is a two-stage frying process.  Cook, blanch, drain, and cook again.  Fries are made to order and served at room temperature.  After fried to perfection, they are placed in a "Frites tosser", imported from Europe.  The holes on the bottom of this special creation allow them to be tossed with delicious sea salt and maximum grease removed.  Quality ingredients, these fries are also gluten free, and vegan/vegetarian-friendly.

If you are not yet convinced that these fries are worthwhile and memorable, let's review the menu.  One can receive the traditional cone of frites (small, large or double, ($4.99-8.99), with your choice of 1 dipping sauce, or 2 dipping sauces for the double order.  I recommend taking a friend and ordering the double so you can try 2 of their 17 dipping sauces.  Also made fresh on location, each sauce is bursting with flavor and creativity.  Only one of their options is not housemade, the frite sauce, imported from Holland.   While hard to narrow down a favorite, curry ketchup and pow pow (a thai sauce) were my preferences.  Garlic parmesan and ranch are  two more traditional sauces for the less adventurous palate.    

Frites again achieves superiority with their meal options, a Bowl or Frita.  The Bowl ($6.49-8.99) combines fries topped with fresh toppings.  We sampled the Mexicano ($6.49), topped with black beans, vegetarian chili, jalapenos, pico de gallo and cheddar jack.   This bowl is bursting with flavor and a beautiful combination of sweet and spicy.  If you are looking for the most unique offering on the menu, I would recommend the poutine bowl ($6.99).  This provides a sampling of the unique Canadian delicacy of Wisconsin cheese curds, gravy and bacon.  Scott, describing himself as a "voracious researcher," found the best local supplier of cheese curds, remaining true to his commitment of excellent, fresh, and local products.

All menu options can also be made into a Frita, their unique sandwich version, a grilled pita stuffed with fries and toppings.  Pita bread, a sturdy successful carrier of these ingredients, is from a New Jersey supplier.  I was thrilled to try the Barbecue Brisket frita ($8.99).  Supplied by Big Papa's Backyard BBQ, we sampled freshly smoked brisket and locally made BBQ sauce, also topped with coleslaw.  Undeniably wonderful.

This father-son duo are ambitious and have a vision to see at least 3 more locations in the LV & B region.  They have done their part in contributing to the LV Eating it's up to us to appreciate, support and enjoy their efforts towards frites excellence.

Wash your meal down with one of their unique teas, including a seasonal option.

Frites on Urbanspoon

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