Eating at haute friture: Frikandellen covered with gold leaf

For a moment I thought I was Charlie when I pulled a golden frikandel from the wall at Febo. But I didn’t win a trip to the croquette factory. Behind all the hatches in that row, the frikandels were covered with gold leaf. And caviar. It was the press presentation of a one-off collaboration between Febo and Schilo van Coevorden, executive chef of the Conservatorium Hotel in Amsterdam, in the context of the hotel night.

Its exorbitantly luxurious fried ground beef is genius – the langoustine farce is greasy, tender and juicy, with a nice springy texture, like a Japanese fish ball; the rich salty taste of the caviar, the spice of the green curry, bite of the vodka jelly make it a real ‘dish’. Unfortunately it is only available tonight and tomorrow. But there are plenty of great chefs who make snacks all year round. High frying is a trend.

The newest company is Sergio Hermans Frites Atelier, a high end chip shop with locations in The Hague, Utrecht, Arnhem, Antwerp and Ghent. It is a chicly designed chip shop – fryers in an old-fashioned stove, sauce drawn from stone pitchers. Next to a large photo of the chef is written: “Strive for perfection has brought me three Michelin stars. Preparing really tasty chips is at least as challenging as making a top dish.”

You just get a bowl of fries. But, mind you, it’s a damn good fries. It has clearly been well thought out and a lot of time invested: the taste and structure of the potato remain proudly, the outside is beautifully brittle and crispy, without being fried very dark. And that goes for tray-wide: it’s not just the dried out small pieces at the bottom, the thick fries are also crispy. The shrimp croquette has a very fine taste, with a nice thin crust. It is a bit of a search for the shrimp. The peanut sauce with real kaffir lime is very fresh and there is a potato with real stew. The Frites Atelier should distinguish itself more in the basic sauces: the mayo is somewhat sweet, cumbersome and not sour.

For those looking for a little more spice, there’s the ‘Motherfucking Hot Dog’

Ron Blaauw’s hot dogs are also back. You still have to look for it carefully: The Fat Dog is housed in a production kitchen in the ‘boules and food hall’ Beautiful Boules – a particularly successful pun – in East Amsterdam. A room with large gravel pits for petanque, a central bar, music, a wooden entourage, a bustling atmosphere and three kitchens where mainly delivery services are served, but where you can also order on the spot.

Tight in his own skin

For 5 bucks you get one ‘Geert Wilders: with “less” garnishes’. Just sausage on a bun. But a warm toasted bun and a crispy frankfurter, medium-coarse, nice and fat, slightly sour and tight in its skin. Exactly what a hot dog should be basically. The classic has good sauerkraut, sweet caramelized onion under the sausage, freshly fried crispy onions on top and a mild mustard sauce. For those looking for something a little more spicy, there is the ‘Motherfucking Hot Dog’: in fact a generous sandwich of tasty rendang (Indonesian beef stew) with a sausage in between, atjar and a ty-fus-hot sauce from madame jeanette. Be. Warned. That real pain only comes when the sandwich is finished. Fortunately, at Mooi Boules they serve beer in pitchers.

At Thrill Grill – in Amsterdam, Haarlem and Tilburg – we eat Robert Kranenborg’s burgers. It is the only real restaurant, where you can sit quietly at a table. It has a nightclub-light vibe: TG in light letters on a bare brick wall and a long sofa of padded black faux leather. There is a fairly extensive menu with snacks, fries, burgers, real main courses with steak, chicken or salmon and a real children’s menu. Burgers come classic, with Peruvian aji amarillo sauce (a yellow pepper), with blue cheese (the ‘Kranenburger’). They are also available on a black bun or without bread, some with double the amount of meat (indicated by an icon of a cow being mounted). A huge boost is that all burgers are also available vegan, in the form of the beyond-meat burger, by far the best meat imitation I’ve tasted so far: the structure is juicy and loose as minced meat and there is nothing such a bitter aftertaste. Exciting.

Meat or not, the whole thing is a bit disappointing. The bun is cold and compact, the milkshake is no more than average, just like the ‘umami fries’ (with seaweed salt). The aji sauce on the Peruvian burger is delicious, but why add wasabi? Everything dies again.

Haute friture is nice. It costs a little more, but in the case of Sergio’s fries and Ron’s hot dogs, it’s definitely a notch better and more interesting than the average snack. Chef Kranenborg is allowed to visit Thrill Grill a little more often to sharpen things up again. However, none of them can match the langoustine frikandel. So I’d like to end with a call:

Dear Schilo, dear Febo,

Would you please – and I say this from the bottom of my heart – open a permanent facility as soon as possible?

Thanks in advance,

love, Joel