B2B v. Pete's Frites
By Steve “Mo” Fye
There’s nothing more American than burgers and fries, and Albuquerque has its share of joints that serve this classic combo. As ART commences tearing up Central and scaring many restaurant patrons from the corridor, I thought I’d check out two in the Nob Hill area.
Pete’s Frites just recently made the transition from food-truck operation to brick-and-mortar restaurant.
It’s not usually the best idea to review a restaurant in its first few months, as it takes some time to shake off unforeseen menu or equipment issues and get the staff completely trained. Despite being open for such a short time and running a stripped-down opening menu, Pete’s Frites hits it out of the park in terms of service and food quality.
My only quibble was that the food took a bit longer than expected, as we had to wait for a fresh batch of fries to be prepared. Since we came in at an odd hour between lunch and dinner, we were happy to wait – especially since the owner himself came from the kitchen to assure us we would get the freshest possible frites.
They were cooked perfectly. The house-cut spuds are boiled until almost cooked through. After being drained and dried, they are fried at a low temperature to make the interior fluffy. Finally, they are fried in hot oil to crisp the surface. The result is frites that are almost creamy inside, but crunchy outside.
The spicy mayo and spicy ketchup were terrific accompaniments, and I look forward to trying the aioli and other sauces.
I ordered the single burger combo with cheddar and green chile, and was glad I did. The burger was huge and juicy: Ground daily in-house from New Mexico beef, it had a very nice balance of fat and lean. The green chile was not as hot as I like, but it was flavorful.
Gooey and toasted beautifully on a sandwich press, it was even better with dollop of the spicy mayo. Meals are served on quarter sheet pans, which I found clever and convenient.
Pete’s Frites is in the process of getting a beer and wine license, and will eventually add more items to its menu. We’re hoping for the fish-and-chips and the salt cod fritters that used to be served from the Santa Fe-based food truck. The restaurant is obviously a work in process; there are too few tables, and there’s no art on the walls yet. The kitchen is still open to the dining area, which made for a fun view for me, but some patrons do not like the noise and distraction.
Regardless, if Pete and his crew continue to produce food at this high level and expand the menu, this place will have all the time in the world to keep tweaking the ambiance.
Just across the street and a few blocks to the west, Bistronomy B2B has been serving locally sourced beef burgers and fries for almost four years. As a perfect example of why not to review a place before it is established, I went to B2B just a few weeks after opening and had terrible service. It would be an injustice to hold that against the place now, as this visit (my first return since that time) was nearly flawless.
B2B’s walls are covered with graffiti-like writing, quotes, beef charts and beer references. The menu is deep, but still simple: burgers with myriad toppings, various meatless patties and a selection of salads.
I decided on the Rosa Burger: a hefty patty with queso, big strips of hot green chile and topped with Doritos. The burger was juicy and the chile had good flavor and serious heat. The only problem was that the bun, while tasty and branded with the restaurant’s logo, was too large for the amount of meat.
The fries were different from Pete’s: The cooks skip the boiling and double fry the house-cut potatoes. The result is darker fries that are still crisp outside and fluffy inside. They are available seasoned with Cajun or BBQ spices.
Curry ketchup and wasabi mayo are just two of the sauces offered, and both were very tasty.
The object of each food fight column is to choose a winner, but this one is really a tough call. The food at both restaurants was outstanding and, while the obvious choice for ambiance is B2B, Pete’s Frites still has time to decorate and finish developing a broader menu. Based purely on the quality of the burgers and fries, and despite having a limited menu and selection of toppings, Pete’s Frites edges out the competition with its near-perfect potatoes and flawless burgers.