All You Need to Know About Pommes Frites (PLUS: exclusive interview with owner, Suzanne Levinson!)
It was a sunny day in 1997 when heaven came to the East Village. Heaven, better known as Pommes Frites, never looked better: a tiny, rickety Belgian fry shop on corner of 2nd avenue and 7th. Inside, piles of thick, fresh, golden potatoes were being tossed into a fryer and topped with a slab of creamy mayonnaise for the next customer. Now, it’s 2013 and the Belgian frites shop is more popular than ever. On a regular day, the line extends to the streets as people wait anxiously to get their dose of frites with one of the shop’s 27 unique sauces.
The chunky fries are crisp, yet extremely gushy and most importantly, they are served in a special cone that could make for a great makeshift birthday hat.
The fries are great alone, but what’s so exciting about Pommes Frites is the extensive sauce collection that I mentioned earlier. However, 27 sauces is a lot to choose from, and even though customers are allowed to try sauces before purchasing their fries, I thought I would save you the time. So, I went on a sauce-capade and decided to report back to tell you which sauces are worthy of your potato and which ones aren’t.
So who is the mastermind behind the ingenious plan to feed everyone extremely delicious fried potatoes in cones?
No, not a Belgian man with a potato fetish. It was Bronx-native, Suzanne Levinson who came up with this creative, yet extremely simple idea, and I was lucky enough to speak with this awesome lady about her shop, success, and (obviously) her favorite sauces.
SB: What would you say inspired you to open Pommes Frites?
SL: As a college student traveling to Europe, I experienced the Belgian fries for the first time in the streets of the Netherlands and in Belgium. I fell in love with the concept – I loved the frites and I loved the sauces. Upon graduating from college, I worked in the European travel industry, which allowed me to travel back and forth between Belgium and the Netherlands, so I would always find myself getting these fries in those countries. It was in the back of my mind for a long time that New York didn’t have a Belgium frites shop, so eventually, I left the job that I loved in the travel industry, made a business plan, and opened Pommes Frites in 1997.
SB: What makes a pomme frite different than the average French fry?
SL: The real difference is that they’re fried twice, so that’s basically what makes them more of a Belgian frite than an ordinary fry. We cook the fries once at a lower temperature, then we set them aside and let them cool off, and then when the customer comes in, we cook them at a higher temperature for a second time.
SB: Why did you choose to open your shop in the East Village?
SL: Well there were 2 things: my budget and the demographic of who would eat pommes frites. When I thought about that, I felt that it was more of a lower Manhattan thing. I happened to find something on 2nd avenue, and believe it or not, those streets were quiet in 1999. I could say if we were a couple blocks up or down the street, we may not have had the same success. I really don’t know why we became so popular in that little spot there.
SB: Pommes Frites has such an extensive and unique sauce selection. Do they serve such a plethora of sauce flavors in Belgium or was it your idea to put a little spin on the traditional Belgian dish?
SL: I definitely modeled my shop off of what they do on the streets of Europe. What stood out is that in Europe, all of the sauces are mayonnaise-based while in the states, people would typically have their fries and ketchup. So I definitely wanted to introduce the concept of mayonnaise and fries. You could find approximately 5-10 different sauces at every frites shop in Europe, but in New York we definitely took it to a different level. For the most part, we have created our own sauces and they are very unique. You wouldn’t find the sweet mango chutney and Vietnamese pineapple in the Netherlands or Belgium. The only thing we do that is very European is our imported Frites sauce – Remia. The especial sauce and the peanut satay sauce could also be found in Europe as well.
SB: So, which sauce is your favorite?
SL: Oh my gosh, I’m telling you they are all really good. This is like having to choose my favorite child! I love the mango chutney, Vietnamese pineapple mayo, and rosemary garlic mayo. Oh, and the black truffle mayo is divine. The pesto mayo is also fantastic. It’s so hard to choose!
SB: Do you plan on expanding your shop anytime soon?
SL: Well, I had a second store in Times Square for literally a year, and it was very difficult. It was just a window onto the street and we didn’t have any seating. Also, Times Square has a lot of tourists who are more into brand identity – if they’re not familiar with what the concept is, they might stray away from it. So it closed after a year, but what we have done now is Friteshop.com. We sell all of our equipment that we use at Pommes Frites. Owning one store is difficult enough, so everything is fine the way it is.”
SB: Are pommes frites your favorite food?
SL: Well yea, I have to say I always had something for fries – they’re absolutely delicious! But with my age now , I don’t eat them as much. Now, I am more dedicated to fruits in vegetables. But of course fries are my favorite food. Pomme frites are a very decadent treat. ♦♦
It is pretty clear that Suzanne knows what’s up when it comes to feeding people potatoes and mayonnaise. Now, let’s all take a moment of silence to thank her for giving us the opportunity to walk around New York with fry cones and more sauces than we can count on our fingers.
VERY crowded from 9:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Best time for avoiding the crowd: weekdays between 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
You can have as many free sauce samples until you know what you want.
No bathroom, so empty your bladder beforehand
Good Belgian fries, even better sauces
I came here around noon time looking for a starchy snack. Pommes Frites' menu consists of Belgian fries topped with sauces from their wide selection of 26+ sauces. Just to name a few, the sauces range from their "Frites Sauce" (traditional European mayo), Vietnamese pineapple mayo, Parmesan peppercorn, to curry ketchup. I ordered regular-size fries topped with rosemary garlic mayo sauce. The fries were freshly fried in front of me and hot to the touch; crunchy and golden brown on the outside and soft on the inside. With the rosemary garlic sauce, the fries tasted even better. (I love mixing my ketchup with mayo so I'm a big fan of eating fries with mayo.) I could really taste the rosemary and garlic in the sauce - definitely very flavorful. Also, my regular-size fries was more than enough, good portions. In terms of drinks it's mostly just bottled water and canned soda.
The restaurant isn't very big so I wouldn't recommend this place for large groups. The whole place probably sits around ten people in a small area in the back. The tables and benches are made of wood, and the tables have holes in them for the purpose of holding your fries which are placed in cone-shaped holders. Definitely very casual, not a waiter service type of place, but the workers are friendly and attend to you once you walk in. Just an inexpensive place to eat some good Belgian fries and have a quick chat with a friend or two.
I plan on coming back here next time to try the poutine (Canadian cured cheddar cheese and chicken gravy).
Hot dog and fries. Isn't it a good combination? Yes, I think it sounds (and hopefully tastes) good. We have been passing by St Marks quite a few times recently and when I saw that Japadog and Pommes Frites were so close, I convinced Jodi to go to both places.
Then, after Japadog, we decided to go to Pommes Frites that is around the block from Japadog.
I had high expectations about that place! Imagine that: a place that only serves fries! If you only cook one item, it must be really good!
So we entered the place that is quite small, with just few seats.
Interestingly, every table or counter has a hole to hold the fries:
So, we ordered at the counter and could not miss the giant fryers:
So, there, you pick your fries and then decide what kind of sauce you would like with (you can either get the sauce on top of the fries or separately.
They have tons of mayonnaise: pineapple, roasted garlic (that would be aioli), sweet mango chutney...for a fee.
We decided to try the poutine:
Poutine is a Canadian specialty made of cheese curds and gravy on fries.
We also tried regular fries:
Pommes Frites NYC
Let's pay tribute to the burned down in yesterday's fire and hoping a stronger return for them .. Meanwhile let's stick to the simple recipe : Perfectly double cooked Belgian frites topped with sea salt . All you have to do is pick ,dip in a sauce and bite one after the other --
Pommes Frites NYC
Apologies for the length, but this fire in the East Village has me all shook up. I lived on St. Mark's & 2nd Ave. for a glorious year and a half during my time at NYU, a time that was filled with cheap college dinners at #SushiPark and far too many drunken nights that ended at #PommesFrites. We went so often, using our relationship with the Filipino owners to get free sauces, that we always had a collection of leftover mango chutney and Vietnamese pineapple sauces we would keep to upgrade our veggies. I of course am praying that everyone is ok, but am also in shock that such a tragedy happened so close to home and such a part of my NYC experience has collapsed in flames #RIPSushiPark #RIPPommesFrites (Photo via tasteyourcity)
Hot, thick cut Belgian fries are all that is served at this miniscule East Village spot. Aptly named “Pommes Frites” this eatery is armed with several sacks of potatoes, a few deep fryers and dozens of sauces to go with the fries they serve.
The dips they offer range from flavors such as Smoked Eggplant Mayo to Irish Curry!
There is very limited seating in the back but with all that frying going on – I would just take these to go.
Pommes Frites offers no surprises in its wares and the frites are nothing spectacular.
However, it is a good enough gimmick that seems to draw enough fans to keep the place buzzing at all times.
Pommes Frites – NYC
Photo Courtesy: www.NewYorkDailyPhoto.com
Pommes Frites is a hole in the wall in the East Village that has been a staple for every late-night eater for the past 16 years. Carrying nothing but their signature double fried potatoes and over 20 sauces to dip them in, Pommes Frites has been able to make quite a name for itself.
I actually went to Pommes Frites for “dessert” a of weeks ago since I wasn’t in the mood for something sweet. My friend and I walked into the little shop which is so small one could easily walk by without knowing it was there. The inside feels like an old Belgian alleyway with sacks of potatoes up to the ceiling in the rear and has enough seats for just a few people to cram in. The tables conveniently have little holes to place your cone in for optimal use of your hands – which you will definitely need because of the dozens of sauces you will be juggling.
I opted for the truffle mayo (duh), the cheddar cheese sauce and the parmesan peppercorn. I should have taken my friend’s advice and gone for the extra crispy but regular is just fine too. The truffle mayo was my favorite because I normally just eat plain mayo with my fries. The cheddar cheese sauce was a little bland and kind of reminded me of ballpark nachos. The parmesan peppercorn was good too but I didn’t want it on all the fries. Of course regular ketchup is always a good choice as well.
Head to Pommes Frite for your fill of carb-ey deliciousness at any time of day and well into the late night.
Pommes Frites is a popular Belgian style restaurant located in the East Village, near NYU, of New York City. The price range for this restaurant generally runs under $10. There are thousands of reviews for this restaurant and about 90% of reviews are 4 or more stars with 10% being 3 stars or lower.
The most popular food item here is the assortment of fries that can be ordered and the mayonnaise dipping sauce and variety of other sauces available. Reviewers also craved parmesan peppercorn and poutine style menu item.
The restaurant is relatively small with few seats and most people order the food to go. The place is more typical of a fast food place and reviewers say the atmosphere is one of the worst or more simply put there really is no atmosphere.
Most reviewers say that the service is great and the food servers prepare the food extremely fast. Words such as “good” and “outstanding” were used, but some reviewers would argue that they are just serving up fries.