Clarke's Miami Beach: Try the Truffle Oil and Parmesan French Fries

Much of America thinks of spring as a time to start anew. In South Beach, though, it just means that

droves of drunken college students roam the streets and

gawk at topless women lying on the beach.

Thank God South Beach locals can find refuge in

places off the beaten path.

Clarke's is a little neighborhood bar and grill on First Street where you can throw back a Guinness or two and chat with the

colorful regulars. Its cozy Irish décor is complete with a mahogany bar, brick

walls, a small interior, and a laid-back atmosphere. A few of the

servers and bartenders even have Irish accents.

The menu offers traditional Irish favorites such as bangers 'n' mash or shepherd's pie for $13.95. For $14.95, you can enjoy fish 'n' chips or corned beef and cabbage. But the stunners here are the French fries. They come with many sandwiches and are perfect for late-night munching or helping you sober up after daytime drinking. They're fresh-cut and come as regular fries, sweet potato fries, or fries with Parmesan and truffle oil.

Bridget the bartender suggests the truffle oil and Parmesan fries. Asked why they are her favorite, she brilliantly replies, "Well, they have truffle oil and Parmesan on them. What more do you want me to say? They're delicious."

The fries were phenomenal. The truffle oil flavor was not overpowering but strong enough to give the spuds some real kick. The Parmesan cheese added a salty zest and was melted oh-so-slightly by the time the fries reached the table. They weren't particularly crunchy, but they were fattening, flavorful, and filling. Two thumbs up for Bridget the bartender's recommendation.

-- Beth Swanson

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