BeFries – Bang on Belgian Fries – No Ketchup Required!
One of my fondest childhood memories is going swimming at The King Alfred Leisure Centre, coming out hair all wet and stinking of chlorine, and finding my mum waiting for me with a cone of salty, fat chips, drenched in vinegar. Chips never tasted or smelt as good as they did then and nothing warmed me up as fast either. Until I stumbled across BeFries on West Street, that is.
I’d been wandering around town all day having not eaten anything and I was starting to feel faint. With a dinner date in just a few hours, I desperately needed a light snack. Being right next to Waterstones bookshop it wasn’t long before the twinkly fairy lights of BeFries caught my eye. In a matter of seconds, I’d given over to temptation and crossed the road to check it out.
Inside I notice a large blackboard on the wall with a six-step illustration of BeFries’s production process, drawn by local Sussex artist Michi Mathias. The drawing explains how first, a specially selected variety of potato (Agria) is sourced from British farmers. Then the potatoes are peeled and cut (by hand, one by one) to the exact size for cooking. After that, the fries are then drained and dried to remove excess moisture, which is the trick to getting a crispy final fry. As is the traditional Belgian method, the fries are then double cooked. Once, at a lower temperature and in the fryer imported over from Belgium and again once more, in much hotter oil. It’s this double cooking, which makes the fries soft and fluffy in the centre but also perfectly crisp on the outside.
Gazing at the menu above the counter and seeing all the choices I begin to feel indecisive. A small cone for £2.80, a medium cone for £3.50 or a large cone for £4.00 – which do I pick? Then there’s the choice of 1 of 20 unique sauces too. Thankfully, Chan (one of the founders) steps in and asks me if I’d like to eat-in and try a selection of their classic sauces (mayo and ketchup etc) as well as their BeSauces. There’s no extra charge for this, so I go with his suggestion.
Whilst I’m waiting, I chat a bit to the owners Chan and Dash and discover that BeFries has been open since August last year and last Saturday they had their busiest day, getting through 250 kilos of potatoes and selling 130 kilos of chips! These guys are also big on supporting their community too and are campaigning to help the rough sleepers in Brighton by asking customers to sign the 38 Degrees Petition for Rough Sleepers. They’re not just leaving things up to others either, having recently been out on freezing cold evenings offering chips to rough sleepers and offering hot water to local charities, which distribute tea and hot drinks to those in need.
We’re trying to do things the right way. We pay staff the living wage, we support local charities and we’re building links with some amazing independent businesses and producers – Dashal Beevers, Co-Owner
After five minutes my fries are served. I decide to stand up at the bar and prop my cone in one of the many holes that have been purposely cut out of the bar. As I tuck in and realise I’ve made a grave mistake not coming in as soon as it opened as the chips are utterly divine and the selection of sauces are like a lucky dip, with every dip producing a new favourite.
Whilst most of the sauces are homemade, some, like the Jerk Mayo are made in partnership with other suppliers and these are the ones I recommend you try as opposed to the bog standard mayos and ketchups. The classic sauces include a traditional Belgian Mayo (slightly sour), a Dutch mayo (sweeter), a German Curry Ketchup and Sate (a sweet peanut sauce). For me, the sauces that really push my buttons are the BeSauces and the specials and it’s the Green Peppercorn that becomes my sauce of choice. It’s an understated dip but the combination of delicate pepperiness and creaminess sees this pot empty before any of the others.
RATING: Must Go | Give It A Miss | Worth A Try
SCORES ON THE DOORS: 5/5 FSA food hygiene rating
If you haven’t been to BeFries yet, you’re in for a treat. The cheerful and enthusiastic disposition of the team, paired with bang-on fries and saucy dips, is a winning combination. Next time I’m in need of a warming snack this will be the first place I head to.
Fan of BeFries or plan to check it out? Click the little heart button below or tweet me @foodieeshe.