Chips are a true British culinary icon. Appearing on menus across the board, from fast-food chains to pubs and restaurants, they are eaten with everything from fish to burgers to steak, as well as being doused with the likes of vinegar and curry sauce.
You might think that Brits have done it all with the humble chip, but they are about to get a taste of how Belgians eat their favourite street food.
A new Belgian chip concept is launching in Nottingham next month, with a second store set to open in Derby, before being fully rolled out across the UK from next year, reported MCA.
Called Frites 33, it will serve Belgian chips in a cone, customisable with 33 different sauces, spices and toppings. Ketchup and sweet chilli sit alongside sweetcorn and chilli con carne.
Dotting every public square in Belgium are friteries (to French-speakers) and frietkots (to Dutch-speakers) – stores and shacks that sell chips.
Mayonnaise is a popular topping, but there are also more interesting concoctions like andalouse, made with mayonnaise, peppers, lemon and tomato, and joppiesaus, a bright yellow sauce that contains onions and curry powder.
Often paired with Belgian chips is a selection of other street-food snacks, including white sausages and a fried meatball called boulet that comes in a tomato sauce.
But back to the UK. Frites 33 is being launched by the team behind high-end dessert cafe chain Heavenly Desserts. If the two pilot stores perform well, the aim is to franchise the concept from 2019 and open around 200 to 300 stores throughout the UK.
Yousif Aslam, director of Frites 33, told MCA that Belgian chips as a street-food concept is something that is relatively new to the UK, with there being no real chain presence.
“It has been very well developed in other parts of Europe, for example there is a business in Italy which has more than 100 sites, but nothing on that scale in the UK,” he explained. “It is also a universal product which appeals to everybody.”
How about it Sparkie, fancy some frites?
The Belgian-style chips are a great product if they come over in a similar format to what I have had in Amsterdam. While I definitely think it will do well through the standard British love of chips, the ongoing heavy focus on health foods isn’t going to do it any major favours.
I think the product should remain pure though. Forcing a healthy version of this will take away from its authenticity, which should be their current focus when it comes to marketing. Ultimately, I think it should do well as long as the product quality is good.