When it comes to French fries, ketchup is the king of condiments, but the emergence of sweet potato fries across all segments of the restaurant industry opens up possibilities for new toppings to dress up this newly popular side dish.
Some suppliers have been suggesting apple butter as an accompaniment, but restaurant goers have been eating the fries with everything from cheese and garlic to marshmallow topping.
“People are asking for ranch [dressing] to dip them in,” said Kristin Cronhardt, vice president for marketing for The Tilted Kilt.
The casual-dining chain based in Tempe, Ariz., started rolling out sweet potato fries to their 50 restaurants this month, after testing them last year.
“We’d had some requests from out guests to have some healthier options for side items and entrées,” Cronhardt said, and the fries were part of that initiative, as sweet potatoes are lower in calories and richer in antioxidants than regular potatoes.
Guests also like them tossed in garlic butter and Parmesan cheese.
“It kind of defeats the purpose of the healthy aspect, but they sure do taste good,” Cronhardt said.
Customers at quick service burger chain Culver’s, based in Prairie du Sac, Wis., also have been using sweet potato fries as conveyances for more decadent toppings.
The fries did well enough in tests at the 424-unit chain that they will be offered as a limited-time offering system-wide this summer.
Culver’s executive chef Jim Doak told NRN earlier [/article/culvers-debut-sweet-potato-fries] that guests were asking for marshmallow topping for their fries and also were dipping them in milkshakes.
At Hearty in Chicago, sweet potato fries and tots are both served in garlic aïoli.
Janna Mestan, a supervisor at Haymarket Pub & Brewery said the most popular condiment for that restaurant’s sweet potato tots is house made spicy porter mustard, “although Buffalo tots are a close second.”
At the Enchantment Resorts & Mii Amo Spa in Sedona, Ariz., chef Ted Cizma said he serves sweet potato fries with two sauces: Ancho chile crema and Serrano-lime aïoli.
South Florida-based celebrity chef Norman Van Aken of NRV Consulting and NRV Productions recommends sweet potato fries with mango barbecue sauce.
READ MORE: Find out about how operators are cashing in on condiment bars, check out "Operators enhance condiment bars to stand out, keep guests coming in"  in the April 18 issue of Nation's Restaurant News. Subscribe .
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Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected]