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We ate at BURGR a few weeks ago. And we had a burger and fries. The burgers were good - 7 out of 10. The fries were served in a cone.

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Now when my wife and I were eating the (truffle) fries we both thought they were dramatically under-seasoned. Now I can eat salt straight so I felt like maybe I shouldn't complain but the wife doesn't like much salt on anything. Of course we ate the fries (because we paid for them - BURGR just gives you a burger). As I got to the bottom of the cone I got a surprise. Little fry piece, garlic salt, salt, truffle powder, pepper, and other deliciousness (that should have been on my fries).

Me having no manners just ate the bottom part. The wife didn't partake. So my question is - is there any taste benefit in serving fries like this? I strongly get the feeling if someone on Ramsey's show served him fries like this he would say something like, "You dumb cow. You don't understand how gravity works. Where in the bloody hell do you think your salt will fall?"

Note: There are some pretty good comments about it being normal for fries to be served inside a paper wrapped cone in some parts of the world. Yes. But this is different. First the seasoning is not a dressing/liquid, second with a paper wrapper you can shake the fries around, and third the paper cone can be sat on its side more or less. The configuration here cannot be adjusted without spilling condiments and people looking at you funny.

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    Fries are often served in a paper cup of some sort. Those cones look like a variation on this. A far I know paper cups don't serve any purpose other than to make it easier to pick out fries one by one and eat. However, I can't say if the restaurant didn't had some other reason for using a cone. You'll probably have to ask them to find out. – Ross Ridge Nov 10 '15 at 4:05
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    These cones in stands are becoming increasingly popular "displays" for fries in trendy restaurants. There may be a reason for it but I'm tempted to chock it up to a trend. – Catija Nov 10 '15 at 4:32
  • The question as stated was completely subjective. We have no idea why Gordon Ramsey chose it - maybe his astrologist dreamed of the shape and told him it will be successful? It is not a question anybody but G.R. can answer. I considered closing it, but it can in fact be made into an objective question, so I reworded the title instead. It is possible that the answers can stand a bit of rewording to fit. – rumtscho Nov 11 '15 at 22:12
  • I also removed the "what is the optimal vessel for serving fries" - it is a good question, but a separate one. @blankip, my suggestion is that you simply ask it as a separate question. It was being overlooked here anyway. – rumtscho Nov 11 '15 at 22:14
  • @rumtscho - I agree with the vessel comment. When I asked why did GR choose this you could just reword "why would any successful/smart chef do this?" It was his restaurant, we were told he chose that explicitly, so figured to use his name. – blankip Nov 11 '15 at 23:11
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In a traditional British chip shop, you would have got your chips (fries for Americans) in yesterday's newspaper, wrapped into a cone shape. These days of course, it's food grade greaseproof paper, but it's still in the same shape.

I suspect the reason for serving chips in a cone is that simple tradition. Also, there may be thermal reasons, that it allows the chips on the top to get cool enough to eat, without the chips at the bottom getting too cold by the time you get to them.

I can't speak about the seasonings. Traditional chips would just have salt and vinegar poured n from the top by the customer himself.

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    The reason for serving them in a cone is that you can carry it and eat while walking. – Neil Trodden Nov 10 '15 at 13:19
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    A traditional British "chippie" cone of chips would add vinegar before the salt, which would help the salt crystals stick to the chips as they bounce down the cone, stopping them all bouncing down to the bottom. Gordon's mistake here seems to be using only dry condiments. Also, rolled paper cones pack tighter and catch condiments better than metal or polystyrene cones. For best results, some chippies add the salt and vinegar before rolling the cone. – user56reinstatemonica8 Nov 10 '15 at 14:18
  • Could the cone also have something to do with being a better shape for venting the steam that would after a time render the chips soggy? – Adrian Hum Nov 11 '15 at 21:57
  • If you want salt sticking to fries, grind it to powder. And it will be deliciously intense. – rackandboneman Nov 11 '15 at 22:46
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The paper cone is a traditional single serve package shape for street vendors, so you can walk away with your chips (fries), and eat while walking. Many street vendors set up shop near parks and beaches (dunes)

It is used in other countries too for a single serve, though many use a punnet (cone with point cut off), so it can sit on a park bench etc.

For large servings to be taken away by the customer, they are traditionally wrapped in paper (recycled and/or virgin newsprint) in a rectangular shape, or packaged into a flat box made of thin cardboard with a paper bag lid

The technical issues are portability (carrying something that's very hot), and stopping them from steaming up, and going limp

The cone works well for small serves about to be eaten immediately. With the lower volume of chips in the bottom and layers of paper, this allows you to hold on to them whilst still piping hot. Also the lower volume of chips at the bottom wont steam up too much, by the time you have eaten the top layer of chips, as the paper can absorb a small amount of steam

The crux of the answer

So when a restaurant serves you fries in a metal cone, they are trying to evoke the old world charm of traditional chips from Europe, but since you are sitting down in a warm restaurant, there is only one answer. They are "marketing" their brand to you, it ads nothing, and in your experience, actually subtracted something from the quality of the fries

A better serving container for fries with flavoured salt would be a flattish tray or bowl with some thermal insulating properties

  • As a note, the metal cone is lined with a paper cone. – Catija Nov 10 '15 at 22:51
  • I could imagine it actually being a heat sink. Fries that are TOO hot and fresh are not very palatable (fast food fries are often not served straight out of the fryer, and they are kept in metal bins). But in an a la carte restaurant, keeping a steady supply of fries in the right state of restedness is probably impractical/wasteful... especially because you don't want overrested fries in an expensive restaurant. – rackandboneman Nov 11 '15 at 22:50
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Presentation:

  • It is traditional.

  • It simply looks nice.

  • Easier to share with others.

Palatability:

  • The fries won't get cold as quickly without direct contact with a colder plate.

  • The orientation of the fries - standing upright - allows steam to escape rather than condensing on a plate or getting trapped and making them soggy. Oil, if there is any excess, can drip off rather than soaking in.

  • They won't get juices and sauce from the entrée all over them.

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I imagine that there are two reasons. One is that it appears nicer [than just serving on a plate] and thus helps justify the cost of the restaurant. And the second is that minimizing the surface area of the fries in contact with the air will keep them warmer for longer.

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