Valentine’s Day edition: My heart beats for thee, the humble fry

French fries from Edmund’s Oast

The French fry. For many, including myself, this ubiquitous dish is the highest and best use of the potato. Many people never get tired of them (and, thankfully, the term “Freedom fries” never caught on either). Crinkle cut, skin on, seasoned, or thin and crispy and sprinkled with parmesan, fries make my carb-loving heart sing. So to this end this Valentine’s Day, dear suitors, we fry lovers humbly request a bouquet of French fries.

We don’t want chocolates or blushing blossoms but right-out-of-the-fryer fries that are so good they don’t need any dipping accoutrement. The bouquet should be balanced: some thick cut, some crinkly, and a good sprinkling of crispy.

If a bouquet is too much, then how about a “fry crawl”? These are the best Lowcountry stops, so let’s hit them all, and please note, there’s not a sweet potato fry among them. That’s all together another conversation.

This restaurant does so many things right, and this includes their fries, which are thin and crispy and perfectly done. The best way to enjoy the fries is to split a burger with a friend and get an extra order of the crispy potatoes. A house-brewed beer is optional but can up the enjoyment factor exponentially.

Located in West Ashley near an on-ramp to Interstate 526 (the newly dubbed “DuWap” area), these crinkle-cut fries are almost too convenient. Granted, the generous helping comes in a Styrofoam container, but that container can also house onion rings nestled in beside the crinkle cuts. When these fries are fresh, they burst with pillowy potato centers.

If you can ignore the Fire Pony (Fireball and Miller High Life) shots that are popular here, then these fries really are worth a visit. Hand cut with tapered ends, these thin babies come with a variety of dipping sauces — the Green Goddess is the strongest of the offerings — but if you so desire, can be gussied up as Dragon Fries, which includes duck confit and sour cream, just in case you were wondering.

I am partial to the thin-style fry, so this is yet another to make the list, but Mercantile does it so well that you might find yourself trying to pair anything with them, such as a salad, to which the servers don’t bat an eye. The fries come out hot from the kitchen and are piled high like delicious Pick-Up sticks, a simple child’s game that becomes so much more fun when the sticks are French fries.

Truffle fries might be out of style, but Coleman Public House does them so expertly with the right amount of truffle oil and sprinkle of Parmesan that they made a good decision to hold onto the trend a little longer. Just try not to eat more than your share if you’re sharing. The best part of this fry experience is when the Parmesan strands melt and fuse two fries together. Score.

Arriving with the famous Husk burger, these hand-cut, seasoned, and skin-on fries might be in danger of being overshadowed by the main event, but don’t discount their contribution to the whole Husk burger experience.

Fried to a deeper color than the rest on this list, they are elevated even further by the housemade ketchup on the side.

Gene Haufbrau’s dearly departed fries. Sidle up to the bar at Gene’s a few years ago, and you were just as likely to order fries as a beer since their standard sandwich side was legendarily good, so good that the whole neighborhood of Avondale still laments their passing. Gene’s still has fries, but as overheard at many a local watering hole, “anyone will tell you they are not the same.” They aren’t, no longer the perfectly seasoned cross between a wedge and a steak fry variety they used to have.