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Potato Greats

Save Room for Your Steak!

For most steak lovers, there is only one vegetable side dish that matters: potatoes. What would a steak frites be without the accompanying pile of crisp, hot french fries? And plain old mashed potatoes seem to be so last millennium: Now they are accessorized with garlic, wasabi, horseradish and numerous other flavors.

Twice Baked Idaho Potatoes

Potato-centric chef Joachim Splichal is among the Y2K wave of steakhouse owners that has given customers as many choices of spud preparations as there are steak selections. At his Nick & Stef’s Steakhouse in downtown Los Angeles, the best seller among 12 potato options—and Splichal's personal favorite—bears the chef's initials, the “JBS Potatoes.” The side dish mixes chunks of red bliss, Yukon Gold and russet potatoes together with applewood-smoked bacon and onions.

In Miami, the potato gratin with Serrano ham at Prime One Twelve wins our vote for outstanding spud. Meanwhile, in Hartford, the mashed Yukon Gold potatoes at Michael Jordan’s Steak House get their star turn with lobster and crème fraîche.

Steaklovers in search of a good potato in Chicago traditionally have headed for Gene & Georgetti for the cottage fries. But the potato choices at the Chicago Chop House, particularly Russ' American Fries, are creating tasty competition.

When San Francisco chef-owner Hubert Keller expanded to Las Vegas, he brought some new ideas about beef with him, chopping Angus, Wagyu and Prime-graded beef into patties for his Burger Bar Las Vegas. He improvised on the potatoes, too—his sweet potato fries are just as addictive as his sandwiches.

Some chefs prefer to remain true to the classics. Take the Lyonnaise potatoes at the Blue Bell Inn in Blue Bell, Penn., outside of Philadelphia: The traditional baked layers of potatoes and caramelized onions make a natural side dish for one of the Inn’s steaks with béarnaise sauce, all served on retro blue-and-white china.

Likewise, the creamy scalloped potatoes at McIntosh’s Steak & Seafood in Charlotte, N.C., and the au gratin potatoes cut into wedges and finished with a crusty cheese top at McKendrick's Steak House in Atlanta, are worth the trip alone.

Potatoes au gratin

Then again, other chefs like to improvise, with great results. In St. Louis, the potatoes au gratin at Annie Gunn’s pack a delicious punch of Maytag blue cheese. This is probably not your mother’s gratin!

At Chateaubriand in New Orleans, potato-files go for the gratin Savoyard, a rich concoction of Gruyere, cream and thinly sliced potatoes. But we’ve found that the best potato dish in that town isn’t at a steakhouse, it’s the pillowy pommes soufflés with a side of béarnaise sauce at Galatoire’s. The paper thin potato chips are among the trickiest dishes to make but when they are prepared correctly, as they are at Galatoire’s, they are pure potato heaven.


*Image of potatoes au gratin courtesy of La Varenne; image of Idaho potato courtesy of Idaho Potato Commission.

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(Updated: 05/15/09 KR)


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