Fried and Gone to Heaven

New French fry concept in Clifton Heights extols fries topped with everything

click to enlarge Chipotle chicken taco fries include chipotle and cheese sauces, lettuce and pico de gallo.
Chipotle chicken taco fries include chipotle and cheese sauces, lettuce and pico de gallo.

Several years ago, I had an idea to open a tater tot eatery and call it Tater Tot Heaven. Well, Scott Nelowet beat me to the punch (sort of) with French Fry Heaven, which originally opened as a fry stand in Jacksonville, Florida, in 2011.

Since then, French Fry Heaven has evolved into brick-and-mortar franchises in several states. Currently, its University of Cincinnati location on Calhoun Street is the only Ohio branch of the fast-growing chain.

French Fry Heaven is open all day (11 a.m.-3 a.m.), so it caters to college kids, both sober and drunk. The UC location opened in early April, and according to its Facebook page, it sold 18,000 pounds of potatoes during the first week.

It’s slightly confusing trying to get inside French Fry Heaven, because signage isn’t written on the front door.

Upon entering, we spot two large menu boards hanging on the wall next to the counter. One board features photos of all of their offerings blown up, and the second is their extensive menu.

They offer about 18 signature Belgian frites with toppings, but some of the items confound.

There is a spud dish called Taco, which makes you think it’s actually a taco and not fries. And the “tater options” section made my brain think they actually had tater tots, but they didn’t.

Before ordering, ask yourself: Do you want hot dogs on your fries (The Ball Park)? Beef and peas (Shepherd’s Pie)? Pancakes and maple syrup on fries (Sunset)?

Or do you want breaded chicken tenders without fries?

The entire concept begs the question: What can’t you pile on top of fries? The answer, which I quickly learned, was you could even drizzle a cappuccino shake on the fries (think dipping Wendy’s fries into a Frosty) and it would taste good.

After mulling over the menu and staring at the not-so-well-defined pictures, we picked the Pizza (fried pepperoni, mozzarella, pizza sauce), the Bruschetta (diced tomatoes, cilantro, shredded parmesan), a cappuccino shake, chicken tenders with Cajun remoulade dipping sauce and, for dessert, the funnel cake frites, which aren’t made from potatoes but are a stick version of the amusement park and state fair treat.

None of this food sounds healthy, though French Fry Heaven uses a combo of soybean and canola oil to fry the potatoes. If you order a baked potato or potato chips, it’s probably more nutritious, unless you smother it with ghost pepper salt and ranch dressing.

Because they make everything to order, it took a while for us to get our food, despite the fast casual-nature of the operation.

Formerly a Five Guys, the space’s lime-green chairs and chartreuse-colored hanging lamps redolent of Subway’s color scheme now inhabit the ample space. French Fry Heaven’s tagline, “The Best Spuds on Earth,” is painted on the wall, and loud, bad pop music blares over the PA.

It was dinnertime, and the restaurant wasn’t packed. This place must be lit up at 1 a.m. on a Friday night, when college students are buzzed enough to crave salty frites smothered in gravy.

Poutine is known as a drunk food in Montreal, so it makes sense that French Fry Heaven would attract the like. Eventually, they’ll add delivery service to transport your love of hot dogs on fries into a private location.

We finally received our food, which came in a round tin dish. They give you large portions, so you definitely need a fork to navigate the food (“Forking good fries” is their motto).

The Bruchetta seemed fresh and paired well with the lightly salted fries. The fries are fried twice for extra crunchiness, but no matter what you douse atop, the fries will still get a little soggy.

The Pizza looked sloppy but was filling (we tried not to think about its sodium content) and probably would be more appetizing if you were drunk. The funnel frites were light and airy, with just a dusting of powdered sugar.

They only gave us about 12 sticks to dip into the goopy confectioners sugar dip, but any more would have been too much.

French Fry Heaven, thankfully, doesn’t list nutrition info on their website, so you can take the ignorance-is-bliss approach to the caloric intake of your meal. If you want a smaller portion of fries, try building your own.

French Fry Heaven isn’t a place to eat every day — it’s more of a cheat day thing — and their frites won’t necessarily make you feel like you’ve died and gone to heaven.

But the food is fun and flavorful enough if you’re jonesing for fries with infinite, gourmet and crazy toppings.

GO: 206 Calhoun St., Clifton Heights; INTERNET: ; CALL: 513-221-2070; HOURS: 11 a.m.-3 a.m. Monday-Sunday.