There are some things in life that automatically elicit a smile from even the grumpiest of people. Puppies, Bank Holiday weekends and Piers Morgan making a tit of himself spring to mind. Show me a person who wouldn’t find Piers Morgan tumbling over in front of a large crowd of people hilarious and I would call them a liar. Food-wise, people have such varied tastes that it isn’t always so easy to find something that tickles the tastebuds of the masses, however in the humble potato I think I’ve found a winner. ‘You, don’t like oysters – yeah fair enough, the texture freaks some people out. Not a fan of steak – well meat isn’t for everybody. You don’t like potatoes? What’s wrong with you?’ Versatile, filling, scrummy and smile-inducing, potatoes (particularly in the form of fries or chips) are understandably very popular. Hearing that a cool new spot called Befries at the top of West Street was solely serving fries and sauces, I made my way there with a huge grin on my face.
Nestled inconspicuously at the top of the road, I was intrigued as to how it would be presented. Having only ever been to a ‘fries place’ in Amsterdam, I had absolutely no expectations with regards to the décor so I was pleasantly surprised to find a tastefully decorated large space with a long wooden island where the chip preparation and serving was underway. It had a wonderfully vibrant atmosphere and while I loitered outside waiting for my foodie companion to arrive a young customer shouted from inside, “You should come in – the fries are the best!”
We were greeted by two very smiley guys who introduced themselves as brothers Dashal and Chan, who own and run Befries along with their other brother Joe and sister Eezda. Dashal explained that they had been visiting Amsterdam for years and were inspired by the plethora of fries places that popped up everywhere which got them thinking as to why there was nothing like that over here. Asking what Dashal had been up to before, he explained with a smile that he had been running a record label and has produced a song which had taken nine years from inception to completion. This song had pooled the talents of various bright and brilliant artists and had given him the confidence to follow his dream of opening Befries with his family. Chan and Joe were both chefs, so perfectly placed to create scrumptious flavour combinations and sauces, and Eezda had worked in the Laines for years and loves interacting with the customers. I had to chuckle when Dashal told me that he had been nicknamed ‘The Sauce Pusher’ due to his insistence that the customers try the new sauces as they are created.
As wonderfully friendly and interesting Dashal and Chan are, it was hard to concentrate on anything other than the cones of fries that were leaving the open-kitchen at lightning speed. Sensing my desire to get started on the food they whipped up one of their specials, which was a medium cone of fries (medium is £3.50 with one sauce) with sate sauce, mayonnaise and diced onion (50p). The fries were out-of-this-world tasty with crispy outsides and very fluffy centres – very much in-keeping with how Dutch and Belgian chips are served. The mayo was rich, creamy and slathered on the top of the fries, while the sate sauce was sweet, peanutty and packed full of flavour. They had specifically chosen soft, sweet white onion with contrasted perfectly with the salted fries. Next, two huge portions of the fries arrived (large is £4.00 with one sauce) and a sample of every single sauce on the menu. My eyes practically popped out of my head with sheer excitement at this feast of loveliness in front of me. With around 15 sauces on offer, I was particularly impressed that nearly half of these were vegan-friendly including a spicy tofu, sate and smoked chilli ketchup. Even more impressive was that these sauces were just as tasty as the vegetarian options. The smoked chilli ketchup had a phenomenally deep charred flavour which was balanced beautifully with the taste of fresh tomatoes. Other favourites were the nacho cheese which couldn’t be more different to the gloopy mess that normally masquerades as its namesake. The cheese was high quality, unctuous and served hot, which caused it to slide temptingly down the fries. The German-style curry ketchup was perfectly spiced and had a brilliantly unique flavour. In fact, there wasn’t a single sauce that let the side down as they all tasted phenomenal. We washed this all down with some drinks that they import over specially. The chocolate-laden Chocomel (£1.80) was a blast from the past and I had only ever tasted it in Amsterdam, while the Hero Cassis (£1.50) was sweet, fizzy and refreshing.
The guys are two of the nicest independent business owners that I have ever come across, and their excitement and passion was truly infectious. Hearing that a ‘Frequent Fryer’ card was imminent, allowing their regular customers to get stamps leading to free food, I only worried that my friends and family might have to send out a search party as I’d be spending half my life at Befries.
Befries is at 46 West Street, Brighton, BN1 2RA