French Fridays: Blue Monk’s Duck Frites
blog by BuffaloDotCom • July 22, 2011 @ 2:49pm
Duck fries are still a delicacy in Buffalo; to our knowledge, only three restaurants offer them: 31 Club, E.B. Green’s and Blue Monk. Because several commenters insisted that Blue Monk had the best fries in Buffalo, Ben T. entered with lofty expectations and slight uncertainty; after all, it was the anniversary of Belgium’s independence, the day when everything Belgian tastes especially good. He’d never had “duck frites” before, and his only assumption was that they would be richer in flavor than typical french fries and would be complemented with mayonnaise-based sauces.
As the photos suggest, the texture of the fries was excellent. They weren’t soggy or too crispy, and there was still plenty of skin on the potato. A little less salt was added to accentuate the richness of the duck fat—it doesn’t taste like “duck” meat, though—and the $5.50 side dish comes with a choice of two dipping sauces from a list of eight. Although the Thai curry ketchup was very tempting, Ben T. opted for (moving clockwise from the bottom of below photo) chipotle bacon mayo, smoked chili aioli, roasted garlic and sea salt, and honey-cayenne aioli.
Unexpectedly, the honey-cayenne aioli was the favorite, although the server mentioned that chipotle bacon mayo and roasted garlic and sea salt were most frequently ordered. The honey-cayenne garlic mayonnaise started sweet and finished with a kick—combined with the rich flavor of the fries, myriad divergent tastes were a maelstrom in the mouth. And, thankfully, they weren’t like these duck fries.
In addition to the honey-cayenne, the chipotle bacon mayo dipping sauce was top-notch. The smoked chili aioli boasted much more subtle flavor—it held the greatest mystique of the four—while the roasted garlic and sea-salt would have been better paired with chicken wings than french fries. Blue Monk’s duck frites felt more like an entree than a side dish, and when accompanied with one of the 32 draught beers and countless bottles (Sam Adams’ Infinium, $35, to use an extreme example), they’re undoubtedly worth a try (or several).
We’ll head back soon to sample the poutine, the Canadian specialty of duck fries with cheese curds and doused in duck gravy.