by Heather Hoch
The prospect of a restaurant that serves only poutine dredges up some complicated emotions. There’s the side of you that wants to eat French fries, gravy, and cheese curds all night and forget about all of the locally-grown, artisanal stuff for a little bit—it’s hard to be responsible all of the time. Then there’s the side of you that kind of wants to punch a wall at the gimmickiness of it. Unfortunately, you probably won’t feel too resolved on either front after a visit to Fourth Avenue’s newish restaurant: U.S. Fries.
In terms of set up, there are a few issues out of the gate with this fast casual restaurant, located just south of Seventh Street. First off, there’s only table seating for ten people so once there are ten people eating poutine, you have to grab one of the tableless high chairs that line the storefront window and eat off of your lap. Not exactly dignified, but hey—you’re eating a box o’ poutine.
This wouldn’t be so frustrating if there wasn’t so much empty, unused space in the restaurant. U.S. Fries could likely double the seating capacity with some creative rearranging or if they just bought high top tables for those chairs or they can be happy feeding only ten people at a time, though that model doesn’t seem particularly viable for a fast casual spot.
Seating issues aside, the restaurant is decorated like a fast food joint, but insists in pricing that it is fast casual with $5 to $7.50 for a regular size and $8 to $11.50 for a large. The bright, abrasive primary colors say "leave" nearly as much as the lack of seating. Additionally, the futuristic soda, plasticware, and napkin dispensers make the place feel sterile.