Lord of the Fries Review (plus a giveaway!)
A short while ago, I was asked to test out the Mark Burger and Chips at Lord of the Fries. I have a distinct feeling it was after this post, where I proclaimed my undying love for burgers. I do love a good burger...
And so, the lovely Kathryn, from Keep Left PR and I begun to exchange emails, discussing the particulars. I had never visited Lord of the Fries before, you see, so I had no idea what they were about. Kathryn sent me a copy of their menu (have a look at it yourself here). "Hmmmm", I thought, "this doesn't exactly appear to be in my line of food preferences... I fear my review will not be favourable. Do I want to do this...?" Kathryn understood my dilemma - me being a Dietitian and all. And so she kindly sent me through the Lord of the Fries' nutrition information, which I had requested (see here). "Huh", I thought, "this is impressive".
Who would have thought that Lord of the Fries was 100% vegetarian? (well, I knew, after reading Michele's review some months ago). But it appears that many people are still very much ignorant of this fabulous fact. Not a single person who I casually surveyed was aware that Lord of the Fries was 100% vegetarian (not to mention Halal and Kosher). They also have vegan and gluten-free options (remembering that for those with Coeliac Disease they cannot guarantee no cross-contamination). Most people assume that because it is open late and often located near bars and pubs, it serves greasy junk to late-night ravers. And before I read otherwise, I thought the same thing!
Not so true, it seems. Well, it does serve late-night ravers, those partial to such behaviours will not be discriminated against...but who would have thought that the menu was comparable, nutritionally, to healthy burger chains, like Grill'd? In terms of kilojoules, protein, fat and salt, they are actually quite similar. The use of cheese in the Lord of the Fries Burgers increases their fat content a bit. Yet their burgers often contain less sodium than Grill'd. The burger patties are made with TVP (textured vegetable protein) so that is why they contain a good amount of protein despite being meat-free. This is why they also taste like meat rather than a vegetable patty. Moreover, the chips are cooked fresh, skin-on and using a high quality sunflower and cottonseed oil, which is nutritionally favourable. Not so shabby! Of course, they are still deep fried, and are by no means what we call an 'everyday food', but they're certainly a healthier fast food option when compared to McDonald's, KFC, Hungry Jack's or the like. They also have a nice, small business turned good start-up story, and a commendable food philosophy.
Ben and I visited the Chapel Street Lord of the Fries store one Tuesday night last month. My younger brother, Jackson, was also going to join us, but pulled out at the last minute - kids these days *shakes her head*. Raj and Sethu, the two young gentlemen working that night, took impeccable care of us. They were super friendly and helpful, thanks guys! We both ordered the Big Mark Burger, and I left it in Raj's hands to select a number of the Sauces for us to try.
We sat down in the comfy booth and played trivia on their newsletter while we waited for our meal. I had a few sips of the Jarritos Mexican sodas we ordered upon Raj's insistence (he highly recommends the pineapple flavour). I'm not really one for soft drink, but the mandarin flavoured drink was quite tasty, and Ben enjoyed them.
Then came our tray of goodies.
Two Mark Burgers (only one is pictured here, Ben had already snagged his), a cup of chips for me and a box of chips for Ben topped with Raj's personal favourite sauce, the French Canadian. This consisted of gravy and shredded cheese on top of the chips...Ben was in heaven. I found it a little heavy, personally, but if gravy and cheese on chips floats your boat then you'll be thrilled.
The Sauces Raj selected for us were: Vietnamese, Satay, Parisian, Belgium and American BBQ. I found the Vietnamese to be a little neither here nor there for me. The Satay was fine, but I do not understand the appeal of dipping chips into satay sauce. The Parisian was yummy, a smooth aioli with definite garlic hints. The Belgium was very similar to the Parisian, but a little creamier. Both were quite nice. And the BBQ, well, I'm no expert on BBQ sauce but I really liked the flavour of this one.
I found the chips to be a little underwhelming, but then again I am fussy about my chips. These were really not bad at all, absolutely tastier than your average good quality chip. But my heart (and Ben's also) still belongs to the Grill'd herby chips. These Lord of the Fries chips have a huge following though, so don't be deterred by my personal flavour preference.
The burgers were yum! I was quite rapt with the patty, which looked remarkably like meat, and really tasted like a beef patty. It was delicious, especially in the soft bun with cheese melted on top...
The lettuce was fresh, the bun fluffy and the Lord's Sauce subtly delicious. The cheese was a nice addition, although I found the serve to be a little keen (bordering on too much cheese for my taste, as I'm not overly fond of cheese on my burgers). It also contained pickle, which was, of course, delicious.
All in all, I can sum it up like this: it tasted unhealthy (in good way), but I left the store feeling light. True story. I hadn't ingested a phenomenal amount of fat and kilojoules, and only a regular amount of salt that you get when eating-out these days. Ben drew my attention to the fact that our fingers weren't greasy after picking up chips. That really says something...
I'm not saying this is super healthy food, by any means, but it is certainly healthier than your McDonald's, Hungry Jack's, KFC, Pizza, Kebab or any other late night snack. I have read countless magazine articles giving advice on late-night snacks after you've been drinking... "Avoid McDonald's and Kebabs, and opt for a toasted sandwich when you get home, made with wholegrain bread, mushrooms, tomato and a small sprinkling of cheese"...yeah right. Of course that is the ideal, but 80% of the time are people going to do that? No. They want to grab something while out with friends, to complete the social experience of a fun night out (note, I'm assuming this doesn't happen multiple times a week). You want something to sink your teeth into, a big juicy burger - and vegetarians are no different. Lord of the Fries gives you that experience. It satisfies that craving, but, miraculously, doesn't leave you with that feeling of heavy grease in the pit of your stomach... it allows you to avoid that junk food regret, which invariably accompanies those 'multiple beverage-induced, late-night eats'.
Opting for a larger serve of chips and loading up on heavy sauces is where you'll sneak in your excess kilojoules. So be aware of this. A conservative meal would be a burger and cup of chips, consumed with the odd dunk in a sauce, if you're so inclined. The most nutritionally favourable sauces would be the American BBQ or the Mexican. Taste wise, I preferred the Parisian sauce. Although maybe I'm just drawn to France. Possibly. Very very likely. No, I jest.
Honestly, I still prefer Grill'd in terms of flavour and nturition. The burgers at Lord of the Fries don't contain loads of fresh veggies or wholemeal buns, so they're really lacking in fibre. And I personally prefer the herby taste of the Grill'd chips. However, there is totally a market for Lord of the Fries, and a fabulous one at that. To have the option of a vegetarian, non-greasy, more kilojoule friendly meal when you're craving McDonald's (or the like) is fantastic! This is definitely the type of food I would crave after a few cheeky beverages. And the best part is, you don't walk away feeling heavy or greasy. Um, yes please?!
* Edit: I have just been informed that Lord of the Fries have recently introduced wholemeal buns to their menu, High Five for Fibre!! Sorry...
So, part of the deal of my review was that I would giveaway 5 vouchers for a free Mini Mark Burger! Please leave a comment below to enter the giveaway, and be sure to send me your email address so I can contact you if you win. My giveaway winners will be announced in one week, so you have until next Thursday to enter. Good luck! And if your name is Mark, listen up closely... Lord of the Fries is launching a special Mark Sauce, named after their founder, on the 21st June. To celebrate, they're going to try to get as many Marks as possible into their Chapel Street Store. So there you go, if your name is Mark and you're keen to take part and get a free burger, register here.