Last Saturday at Pass Member Preview Day, Zachary, Joe, Thomas, Pretzel Kaiser, Tony, and I decided to take one for the team and try everything on the menu at Les Frites. As is our custom, we rated each dish, so we could share our questionable, if enthusiastic, wisdom with all y’all.
Perhaps the most important question is, “how are the frites?” Everyone enjoyed the thick-cut, and slightly “floppy” fries; but we agreed that people who prefer them crisper might be slightly disappointed. In fact, Joe said he likes the waffle fries at Trapper’s Smokehouse more than the plain frites for that reason. As fans of the bags of greasy fried potatoes served at our local Five Guys, Thomas and I were very happy with our culinary adventure, however.
We did not taste the plain frites with the vast array of condiments available, but we agreed that they all looked interesting. I certainly plan to try the traditional pairing of frites with mayonnaise soon.
We individually scored each dish on a scale from zero to five; zero being “possibly poisonous,” and five meaning “food nirvana.” We included the full menu in our previous article about the new culinary options at BGW.
Before I begin, I want to emphasize that last Saturday was this restaurant’s grand opening. We all expected some mistakes, as the culinary team works out the kinks. We know PMPD is a dress rehearsal for the park in general, and it was certainly on the job training for the servers at Les Frites. So, here are our thoughts on each dish, ranked best to worst, but please keep in mind that some things may change over the next few weeks.
It feels a bit like cheating, but we ranked the dessert highest. The fried apples, however, were amazing. In fact, we agreed they are better than the Granny’s Apple Fries at LEGOLAND, for anyone who has eaten those. We tried them dusted with cinnamon, adding caramel, and dipped in the cream cheese frosting. Honestly, they were perfectly fried and not too sweet, regardless of how we dressed them. Drizzled with caramel seemed more like a real dessert, while plain with cinnamon would make a great snack. The only change I would make is that I would have enjoyed vanilla ice cream on top.
The Trappers-inspired dish was our favorite savory item on the menu. It really seemed to be hearty enough to be eaten as a meal, as opposed to being a side item or snack. None of us were entirely sure how pulled pork and cole slaw would taste over French fries, but the meat, sauce, crisp veggies, and potatoes worked surprisingly well together, creating a coherent and tasty dish. We would recommend letting the sauce soak into the fries, before eating them, as they paired particularly well together. Our only complaint was that the pork was not shredded enough, making it difficult to eat.
Although there was disagreement about the gravy, everyone liked the poutine, as well. I found it tangy, but others thought it was too salty. Regardless, we all loved the cheese curds, and felt this classic Canadian dish came together really well. It was suggested that the gravy should have been poured over the curds to make the meal more cohesive, but this was another dish that seemed filling.
As an unrepentant lover of potato skins, I fully expected to enjoy the Irish pub offering. While it wasn’t bad, and I would probably eat it again, it was not my favorite dish of the day. The problem was really very simple: the bowl needed more sour cream. I am the first to admit that I probably use two to three times as much of the delicious and tangy dairy topping as most people, but I don’t think anyone could claim that the nearly decorative drizzle of sour cream over the cheese, bacon, and chives added much flavor to the dish. I, personally, plan to try the Irish frites again, because they were fairly good, and I can easily ask for extra sour cream.
Unfortunately, we have now reached the part of the review I like the least. I cannot recommend any of the following dishes, unless the park makes significant changes to the ingredients and preparation. The “Classic” is unsurprisingly chili cheese fries. What was surprising was that instead of using the real cheddar cheese from the Irish, the park slopped fake cheese sauce on top of their standard chili. To be fair, it was hearty, and if you like the chili it worked well with the fries. Being me, I would have added sour cream as well, but that, as I have already noted, is a personal problem, possibly requiring a 12-step program.
Even the one taster who usually likes BGW’s red sauce could not score this dish higher than a 2.5. The components were not well-balanced: we could barely taste the cheese. For most of us the sauce was still too sweet. That said, Zachary opined that this was the best way he had seen the park’s marinara used. Additionally, is meets the apparent goal of having dishes themed to each hamlet.
This dish simply lacked cohesion. We felt as if we were eating three separate snacks arbitrarily thrown together into the same bowl, and then unaccountably topped with malt vinegar. We all agreed that a balsamic would have improved this menu item enormously. The best recommendation we could make was to skip the Mediterranean and get a French Fry Cone instead, which is cheaper and would taste better.
Overall, Les Frites is a great addition to Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s culinary lineup. We are all looking forward to eating there again, and strongly recommend everyone try at least one of the flavorful and filling French fry bowls. More importantly, do not miss the apples!
I would like to end with a special thanks to Joe of BuschDominion for helping us with this review. His comments on the food were invaluable.