We asked you who makes the best French fries in NJ. Sports teams should only have fans as loyal as WindMill’s.
WindMill fries took an early lead in our “Cheap Eats” (February) e-mail poll and never faded. Though the Long Branch-based chain posted a link to our story on its homepage, it didn’t mount a campaign or mention the poll. Still, we asked voters if something was up. No, they replied. As Christina M. Petrolito of Brick responded, “A voting drive? lol… Not that I’m aware of. I’m just greatly fond of the food.”
What fans love most about WindMill fries is their ultra-crunchiness. Like most fast-food restaurants, WindMill uses frozen pre-cut fries. They come in 30-pound boxes marked “Grade A Extra Long Fancy Thin Crinkle Cut French Fried Potatoes.”
“It’s a very expensive fry, and it’s not a common size,” said Rena Levine Levy, WindMill’s CEO.
I visited the Westfield franchise, where owner Vivian Lee demonstrated proper cooking technique. The frozen potatoes are par-cooked about two minutes, or until a single fry, held from beneath with a pair of tongs, stands up straight. “If it’s not cooked enough,” Lee said, “the fry will flop over.”
The drained, par-cooked fries are held in a bowl until a customer orders, then they’re plopped into the fryer for another two minutes. “Part of the taste profile is that people get it piping hot,” Levy said. “As it comes out of the fryer, we hand it right to you.”
Plain fries are $2.79. For $3.99 you get chili cheese fries, a rapturous treat greater than the sum of its parts. Each store makes chili from lean beef, tomatoes, onions, and spices. The cheese is Cheez Whiz. (“We could buy a substitute for a third the price, but it wouldn’t be as good,” Levy said.)
We did get votes for other places, including Jeffrey’s Of Westfield, It’s Greek To Me in Holmdel and Long Branch, Curly’s in Wildwood, Kupper’s in Seaside Heights, and Dave’s in the Blue Building of the Englishtown Auction. Robert Mundrick of Pequannock noted that Dave’s are made from fresh potatoes, “cut in front of you and…served in a paper bag. [They] are the best fries I have ever eaten in New Jersey.”
“WindMill cheese fries hit the same spot in the brain as chocolate and sex. They are orgasmic.”
“I need WindMill cheese fries three times a week or else my body shuts down.”
“I’m on a strict diet, and these cheese fries are the one thing I save up for when I feel like treating myself.”
“Sometimes my friends and I drive an hour just for their chili cheese fries. They are so delicious that no other place in the area can fulfill our cravings.”