Pay Dirt!

Why is it when you order French Fries, a disappointing majority of the time they come out in a limp heap, underbaked, greasy, and soft.
Does anybody really like their fries that way?


(start rant) I always want to take the plate back into the kitchen, present them to the cook, and ask why they didn’t leave them to cook until deep-golden brown and crispy? And don’t get me started on undersalted fries. French Fries need to get salted immediately when they come out of the blazing-hot oil, so it clings to the crunchy fries. (end rant)


So imagine my surprise when my friend Dylan whisked me away from the recent culinary conference I was attending in Seattle to walk me a few blocks away to the Baguette Box.

The Baguette Box is a little hole-in-the-wall sandwich shop, owned by chef Eric Bahn, who also owns Seattle’s Monsoon restaurant where I’d eaten the night previously. I will spare you the details of the dreaded conference lunches I was forced to endure, but will let you know that it took very, very little prodding to get me to come along (and Dylan’s mom is the famous Fran Bigelow of Fran’s chocolate, inventor of the most amazing grey salt caramels, dipped in chocolate, and finished with smoked sea salt.) So since there the possibility of chocolate in there, it took little encouragement on his part to get me to play hooky for a few hours one afternoon.


The Baguette Box is basically one long communal table with a chalkboard above the open kitchen announing which sandwiches were on offer that day. Feeling like I needed a break from all the meat I’d eaten in Seattle (more about that in a later post), I chose the Tuna Salad Baguette with Sliced Boiled Egg, which came with crisp-sliced radishes. Dylan wisely chose the Salmon Gravlox Baguette which looked delicious but once you pick up one of these hefty sandwiches, if you put it down you risk it spilling its contents all over the place.

But the French Fries were what really astounded me. A pile of just-fried French Fries were piled into a nice-sized paper cup and generously sprinkled with very good salt. In fact, it was just the right amount. They were dark brown and crackly-crisp. Outstanding, and when I told Eric that I they were the best French Fries I’d ever had in my life, I don’t think he took me seriously (he obviously doesn’t read my blog!) but they were. And at $2.50, they were the best bargain in town. Hedonists can opt for a drizzle of white truffle oil, but I think that might ruin the sheer perfection of les frites.

Baguette Box
1203 Pine Street
Seattle, WA
Tel: (206) 332-0220

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  • April 6, 2006 7:00pm

    I work only a 5- or 10-minute walk from Baguette Box, but I went there for the first time only a couple of weeks ago. Suffice it to say that I’m now quite eager to make up for lost time! I had a sandwich of pork shoulder braised in red wine – drippy and very, very delicious – although I was also very tempted by the tuna salad. Next time, I think. And I won’t miss the fries, either – they look so *perfectly* golden-brown. Mmmm, mm.

    So sorry that I missed you when you were in Seattle, but I understand that Shauna and others – including, I see, Baguette Box – gave you a proper welcome!

  • April 6, 2006 11:20pm

    Hi David,
    French fries, on top of all that chocolate? It’s a wonder you’re not 300 lbs.

  • April 7, 2006 9:45am

    Hi David,
    Ahhh, perfect French fries! Maybe I’m getting a little bit nostalgic, but I haven’t eaten anything close to perfect since my first years at school. We had a little snack stand nearby and the guy named “Kehrheinz” used some special seasoning – I would do almost anything to have them again…
    Although I can’t taste your just discovered fries, from the photography I’d say, there’s definitely potential ;)

  • April 7, 2006 9:55am

    Oh yes. I can confirm this. Everything David says, and more. Yum.

    Come back for more soon, David.

  • Paula
    April 7, 2006 10:11am

    Hey David – did you by any chance eat at Noodle Ranch when you were in Seattle? I saw someone who looked so much like you but figured it couldn’t be you because you were in Paris…

  • April 7, 2006 12:05pm

    Molly: I take 2 weeks off, and you go and get hitched…Congrads!

    Elise: Thanks to the miracle of PhotoShop…

    Nicky: It’s amazing how easily it is to wax poetic about good French fries. It’s really true; they just don’t make ’em like they used to (and I was so inspired by all your beautiful photos that I bought a new SLR camera.)

    Shauna: Except you can have them whenever you want, and I can’t!

    Paula: Yes! I was at Noodle Ranch with Heidi ( last week for dinner. You should have said hi! (Tip: Don’t order the Winter Rolls, but the cold sake was great.)

  • April 7, 2006 12:13pm

    I request my fries “extra cripsy” it often works but not always.

  • April 7, 2006 1:46pm

    Love that place! Glad you got to go. It is so close to where I live…and I go there often. Lucky Me!

  • April 7, 2006 2:40pm


    I’ve been served perfect fries only twice outside of Europe, so once a year I make my own. And for pure unadulterated decadence, you can’t beat a pound of homemade fries and a homemade chocolate malted, although last time I did fish and chips:

    Hmmm. Come to think of it, I had those fries last year, I’m still due this year.

  • April 7, 2006 4:26pm

    my mouth is WATERING! i could really go for some of those fries right now. however, from florence to seattle, it’s a bit of a journey…..i’ll have to wait for my next trip to seattle….

  • April 7, 2006 4:35pm

    two weeks ago someone from seattle did a blog on and they went to this place and monsoon. Check it out, it was an amazing week of food. ( and design, the dude is an architect)