One potato, sweet potato

One potato, sweet potato

At DeNoce’s Catering and Café, lunch is all about the sweet potato fries

By Maureen Foley 05/17/2007

What is it about sweet potato fries? They can be totally addictive, especially when they’re hand cut. Maybe it’s the combination of salty and sweet that is so compelling. And supposedly sweet potatoes are one of those wonder foods for women, because they have naturally occurring estrogen. (But don’t let that factoid scare away any male fries fans out there.)

Whatever the case, DeNoce’s Catering and Café knows sweet potato fries. They can be ordered by themselves, but they are also a side for any of their sandwiches. The fries, which come with a sweet, tangy dipping sauce, have the perfect texture and crispiness. Call me a fries snob, but I can’t stand those oversized, soggy-fried tubers that some restaurants shill. DeNoce’s avoids that pitfall, with fries that are just larger than shoe-string and the correct crispy-but-not-hard texture.

Besides the little pieces of fried sweet potato heaven, DeNoce’s features a variety of sandwiches and salads with a slightly Italian bent. During a working lunch, four of us ordered different sandwiches to-go, some with the fries on the side and some with salads. Saundra found her barbecue tri-tip sandwich a tasty bistro affair, and she said it was “not too gourmet for its own good.” She said the meat wasn’t too dry (a common tri-tip sandwich mistake) and the side house salad was surprising and delicious, with shaved parmesan cheese and roasted pine nuts as an added bonus.

At DeNoce’s order Italian and you can’t go wrong. That was the lesson Matt learned with his roast beef sandwich. The standard bread-meets-beef affair, served on sliced whole wheat bread, was basic but nothing more. But my chicken panini, with grilled chicken, roasted red peppers, provolone cheese and artichoke pesto mayonnaise, was a perfect balance. The crusty ciabatta bread protected the chicken from drying out during the toasting process, and the artichoke pesto mayo kept the sandwich from suffering a bland fate.

In his Italian sandwich, Bill said the grilled chicken balanced well with the proscuito and provolone. (He said he could “actually taste the proscuitto,” unlike in most sandwiches that use the Italian deli meat and bury the taste underneath other flavors.) The only downside for his sandwich, Bill said, was the ciabatta bread. (But he admitted to a personal bias against that type of bread.) Saundra and I found the bread complementary to our sandwiches.

And then, there are the fries again. During the meal I pecked away at the stack of sweet potato goodness, before and after my sandwich. They acted as both appetizer and dessert, sealing up both sides of my work lunch neatly. The only thing DeNoce’s has working against it feeding lunch to the working masses is its location in an industrial no-man’s land near the Olivas Park golf course. (The café itself is cozy, though slightly sterile, should you choose to hunker down there.) But their off-the-beaten path locale won’t deter me from ordering my working woman’s lunch from them again. I’m already dreaming about their fries again.

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