It always amazes me when people get an order of French fries and complain that their spuds are not crisp enough. There’s a remedy for that problem: you just ask for the fries “crisp.”

Now, I’m not suggesting that this is a brilliant insight, but if you, like me, abhor fries that are limp and soggy, all you have to do is say to the server or cashier, “I’d like those fries crisp.”

It’s simple, and in almost every instance I’ve found that Oak Park restaurants are happy to comply with this simple request. Only once was I  told in a local place that “Our cook can’t take special orders.” I never ate there again.

In the assembly line environment of most fry-serving restaurants,  it’s all about speed: get the food ready and out there as quickly as possible.

Frying, however, requires oil of sufficient heat and the time required to brown the food and create a delicate shell around it. None of this is rocket surgery, yet at a fast-moving work station, it’s easy for the cooks to streamline the process by putting the fries in oil that’s not quite up to temp and then taking them out before they’re fully crisped up. The result is an un-crisp fry. No one wants that.

Another advantage of asking for crisp fries is that the cook may have to make a fresh batch, and the best fries are crisp and just out of the fryer.

French fries are not diet food, so if I’m going to order a bag, I want each one to satisfy, and the only fries that satisfy are the ones that are crisp. And the best way to make sure you get crisp fries is to ask.

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David Hammond

David Hammond, a corporate communications consultant and food journalist living in Oak Park, Illinois, is a founder and moderator of, the 8,500 member Chicago-based culinary chat site. David...