Attention restaurants: if you are going to sell dishes called French onion soup, French fries, or French dip, do ‘em correctly! I am constantly let down when ordering French onion soup because usually what I get is a watery beef broth with a couple of onion slices and a piece of toast with warm cheese atop. That is not French onion soup!
The real soup is a very rich stock-based soup with lots of heavily caramelized onions (patience!) poured over a crouton, topped with Gruyere, and broiled to a bubbly brown mass. The latter for me is true comfort food that makes even the worst chest cold evacuate the body.
On to French fries. If you are going to make your own fries, great, awesome even, just learn the technique, and do them correctly. There is little worse that ordering “our hand-cut French fries” and getting a grey greasy basket of underdone and poorly executed fries. If you can’t take the time to do them right, just buy good quality frozen fries, and make all of us happy. Fries are actually very easy to do correctly; it just takes some time and a little preparation. Cut the potatoes, soak them in water with a splash of white vinegar for a few hours, drain thoroughly, and let dry for an hour. Blanch the fries in oil at 300 degrees for three minutes, drain, and let fully cool; then, fry at 360 degrees until crispy and golden (approximately three minutes).
I don’t know if French dip is actually French, but it can be another super comfort sandwich. It should be on a crusty baguette (the French part of the equation) with lots of shaved roast beef, topped with cheese or not, and served with a side of au jus or beef broth. Technically, the au jus should be from the bottom of the roast beef pan. Again, I am tired of ordering this dish and getting a meager slice or two of roast beef on a soft hoagie roll with bouillon for dipping. For me, a major element which makes the sandwich is the crusty bread; that is the whole point of the au jus: to soften the bread for easier eatability. There must be some worthy renditions out there . . . somewhere.