There are a lot of overused terms in the food world. If buzz words, like “sustainable” or “artisan,” are moderately annoying when eating at restaurants which actually offer those things, then hearing them applied in a fast food setting borders on ridiculous.
I mean great, McDonald’s, I really appreciate the curiously addictive taste of the Filet-o-Fish, but who among us is really eating a square fish stick sandwich with a half slice of processed cheese product because we care about the feelings of Peter the Pollack?
Another term that gets thrown around too much is “House Made.” Take Arby’s new House Made Kettle Chips. Yes, I know the phrase designates a food made at the restaurant, but what the heck is that supposed to mean in Arby’s case? Does that mean some pimply faced high school kid who works at my local Arby’s is sitting out back with a potato peeler, a mandoline and a bag of fresh Idaho spuds, tossing potato slices into a kettle of hot oil that’s being manned by her or his grandmother?
Try as I might, I just couldn’t help but laugh at the idea and be skeptical. I’ve eaten a lot of chips in my life, some even in the thick-cut restaurant style Arby’s is touting, but not once do I ever remember any of those experiences involving a drive-through window or a $1.79 price tag.
A buck seventy-nine and a stop to chow down in the privacy of my own car later, and I have to say I’m not just pleasantly surprised, I’m stunned. Arby’s new chips don’t just win in the looks department, they also have a flavor and texture that makes me wonder why every fast food restaurant hasn’t considered potato chips. The crunch is far beyond anything you’ll get in a bag from the store, and that’s a good thing. Thick, hearty, and completely capable of breaking up an awkward silence, it’s the kind of crunch that no other fast food side can compete with.
Liberally coated in Arby’s “signature” seasoning, each taste has a wonderfully lickable tomato sweetness that’s also zesty. Yes, zesty. Not quite heat-packing, but more than just garlicky or onion-powdery, it’s the kind of sensation which would leave you in a ponderous state of “hmmm, what was that?” if it wasn’t for the unconquerable urge to quickly devour the next chip. The great thing about the chips though is that the seasoning powder eventually fades to the signature earthy meatiness of the potato.
If you’re anything like me, you often find yourself rushing through fries, but there’s something about these chips which almost forces you to chew and savor the potato flavor. At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, it’s the kind of taste and texture that seriously makes a guy or gal consider packing up the U-Haul and moving to Idaho.
Aside from going well with ketchup and not losing any textural integrity even when slathered with the scientific glory of Heinz, the chips also remain remarkably crunchy even hours after I bought them at my local Arby’s. In fact, nearly four hours after munching down on half the bag, I finished off the chips without noticing any diminished crunch or flavor.
While they lost some of their surface oil, they were no less addictive or finger licking. Considering how much I love the taste of fried potatoes, but get frustrated by cold and soggy fries that I don’t eat in the restaurant immediately, I found the chips to be the perfect answer to one of fast food’s most enduring dilemmas.
My complaints are minor. Seasoning itself is a bit salty and licking the seasoning ad nauseam can make the chips somewhat soggy. The chips should also lose points for coming in a single flavor, and not a various flavors like with store-bought chips. But like I said the complaints are minor, and given Arby’s reputation for offering a buttload of sauces – including the seriously underrated three-pepper sauce – even those who aren’t crazy about the standard seasoning can customize the flavor of the chips to some degree.
I have no idea how “house made” Arby’s House Made chips are, but after trying them out I’m hooked. They’ve got all the taste and addictiveness of Arby’s Curly Fry seasoning, yet none of the uneven cooking and inconsistent texture. Likewise, they pack a potato taste that would rival any actual house made potato chip from a sit-down restaurant, and have a crunch level beyond any store-bought chip I’ve ever eaten. Gimmicky name or not, this is one side item that deserves more than a roll of the eyes when it comes to its namesake, and it’s worth the extra charge to add it to any combo meal.
(Nutrition Facts – 450 calories, 27 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 530 milligrams of sodium, 47 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of sugar, 1 grams of fiber, and 5 grams of protein.)
Item: Arby’s House Made Kettle Chips
Purchased Price: $1.79
Size: 3 oz.
Purchased at: Arby’s
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Amazing level of crunch beyond any store-bought chip. Really does taste ‘house-made’ from an upscale restaurant. Addictive and finger-licking seasoning without the textural inconsistency of curly fries. Just the right amount of surface oil. Kettle-blistered mouthfeel. Goes awesome with ketchup. Relatively inexpensive.
Cons: Awesome source of fat. Doesn’t come in multiple flavors, like Black Pepper or Sour Cream and Onion. Chips get soggy if you’re determined to lick the seasoning completely clean before crunching down.