The potato is an oft-maligned vegetable, relegated to supporting more whizz-bang proteins, or decried as an empty sphere of carbs. But the humble spud has its own ways to shine and here we’ve gathered together some of the best dishes that makes best use of the potato’s strengths. From chilli fries to sweet potato rosti and the rise of the not-so-simple baked spud, these potato dishes are sure to have you fully appreciating the versatility and tastiness of this culinary staple.
Sweet potato rosti at Red Robyn
When you’re in need of a hearty breakfast option but would prefer to err (albeit vaguely) on the side of good health, a rosti is sure to deliver. At Camberwell’s Red Robyn, there are not one but three crispy breakfast rosti options to choose from. Made from sweet potato, these rostis have a light, earthy flavour. Choose between the bacon and spinach with hollandaise sauce, the salmon with spinach and haloumi, or the house-made baked beans rosti (the last of which we recommend, with some extra feta sprinkled on top). And remember, as well as being delicious, like everything at Red Robyn, these rostis are completely gluten-free.
Baked potatoes at Spud Bar
You can’t talk potatoes and not mention Spud Bar. While Spud Bar is not your typical Broadsheet venue, with Matt Wilkinson (former head chef at Circa and current co-owner/chef of Pope Joan and Bishop of Ostia) coming on board in 2011, we’ve quickly succumbed to the this healthy fast food option. Indeed, Spud Bar has quickly proved that the baked spud doesn’t have to be the stodge option. With the right toppings, it can be light, filling and delicious. You can stick to classic spuds that throw around traditional accompaniments like cheese, crispy bacon, sour cream and chives. Or, should you wish to see what a baked spud can really do, you could explore the likes of the slow cooked lamb spud, the roast chicken breast and avocado spud, or the tasty, textural delight that is the dahl and mixed grain spud. Of course, you can always choose your own mix of toppings to create a somewhat personalised spud, which is half the fun in itself.
Chilli and Cheesy Fries at Phat Brats
For all potato connoisseurs, the ultimate dish to test a tater’s worth is fries. At Phat Brats the primary focus may be hot dogs, but their fries deserve equal praise. Not only do they achieve the perfect crispy-to-fluffy ratio – you can have them topped with two equally decadent sauces. The cheese fries are a golden dream, the sauce vibrant, rich and bright enough for a canary and not a lick of it smacks of artificial cheese. The chilli fries are hot enough to try welding with, crowned with rounds of jalapenos, chilli sauced beans and sour cream. You may come for the dogs, but you’ll stay for the fries.
Potato Pizza at I Carusi II
There are some that would say that potato has no business on a pizza. We would like to direct those naysayers in the direction of I Carusi II and then see if they hold a similar opinion after trying their version of potato pizza. Dubbed as ‘Alla moda di Giuseppe’ on the menu, the potato on this pizza is cut a touch thicker than on most other potato pizzas about town, allowing for a fluffier texture that complements the bubbly mozzarella, white cream sauce and soft caramelised onion that accompanies. With a sprinkling of rosemary to top it all off, this is a deceptively simple combination that will have you licking up every last crumb.
Vodka and Potato Blintzes at Borscht Vodka & Tears
While these days you are more likely to find vodkas that have been distilled from grains such as rye, traditional potato distilled vodka still has its place – and that place is Borscht Vodka & Tears. Here you can pull up a stool to a candlelit table and throw back good Polish potato vodka until you feel the warmth spread throughout your body. Should straight vodka be a touch too much to handle, you can get into the spirit via Borscht’s extensive vodka cocktail list – perhaps the Moscow Mule made with palace pepper potato vodka. And of course the proper accompaniment to all this vodka is a round of potato blintzes filled with mushroom ragout, a perfect reminder that even in its more stodgy guises, the potato continues to surprise in its humble sophistication.
Potato starch and citrus, olive brine and yoghurt by Shaun Quade at the Duchess
As a special coda for those who really want to get adventurous in their potato connoisseurship, head down to the Duchess of Spotswood from Monday September 17 to experience the weird and wonderful dessert world of chef Shaun Quade. In a series of special dessert evenings, not only will you be able to experience unusual dessert ingredients such as Szechuan pepper, fennel and sea lettuce, but you can experience a potato starch and citrus, olive brine and yoghurt. Intrigued? So are we.