Smelt fries at Salt & Iron in Edmonds, WA

One late night, some forty years ago, after working the swing shift at the Brazier sawmill in Molalla, Oregon, a few of us guys drove to Troutdale to dip-net for smelt. For a few brief days the rivers near the Columbia are alive with these small, silver fish, the river sparkled as if filled with silver sequins; the best smelting is done at night. If memory serves me correctly the thrill of the chase, male testosterone, and probably a brew or two, resulted in quantities caught that would not have pleased the game warden, had they checked, thankfully they did not.


Salt & Iron, in Edmonds, Washington, is a favorite restaurant thanks to an ever changing menu reflecting the local and the creative. Saturday they had smelt fries on the menu, from Oregon – I am sure from Troutdale (it’s my story and I am sticking to it). There was no choice, I was having Smelt Fries & Chips, the British rendering of fries did not escape me at all. It was perfect.

Smelt taste like fish, they are “fishy”, delicate breading will not hold up, Salt & Iron did it right, prefect balance of fish and bread. The chips, well I defy you to find any that are better.

Chips, Fries, are a personal thing, please do not come to my table and gleefully offer me “steak fries”, they are little more that soggy wedges of potato, without copious amounts of some sauce they are completely inedible – they render any meal less enjoyable. Good fries must be crisp, placid potatoes should be mashed not served, the centers should be moist and soft – the world standard is Belgium. In general the thinner the cut the better as it allowes for quick cooking resulting in the required crispiness.

Salt & Iron has perfect fries, a glass of Pilsner and a plate of their fries would make for a delightful afternoon. Matched with the smelt fries it was comfort food at its best.

A restaurant that makes you look forward to the next visit has done it all as it should be, we will be back, and most likely not soon enough.

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