The humble starch goes luxe at hot spots around the country.
The Spot- There's always a crowd waiting on the cobblestone street in front of Boarding House (12 Federal St., 508-228-9622), a restaurant that's been popular for all of its 19 years, possibly because it used local ingredients before they were trendy. Or maybe it's due to the homemade carbs: french fries, flatbreads, doughnuts and, of course, mashed potatoes.
The Specs - Chef Erin Zircher's crème fraîche mashed potatoes with hackleback caviar ($9 as a side; $24 with scallops) is served with lobster until November, when the Nantucket Bay scallops arrive. They're in season for a short while and taste even better when dunked into these rich potatoes.
The Spot - Originally opened in 1953 as a supper club (Bob Hope and Peggy Lee were regulars), El Gaucho (2505 First Ave., 206-728-1337) still has old-world touches: low lighting, midnightblue walls and original mink booths.
The Specs - Though El Gaucho is a steakhouse, the lobster mashed potatoes ($13 for a half-order) is one of the most popular dishes. Made of russets, lobster meat and stock, heavy cream, butter, paprika and a pinch of white pepper, the mash is so addictively delicious that many customers order it as their entrée.
The Spot - Perched on the shore of Payette Lake, the 62-year-old Shore Lodge helped McCall transform from a sleepy timber village into a swank resort town. Its fine-dining restaurant, The Narrows (501 West Lake St., 800-657-6464), has lake and mountain views from every table, as well as local products like grass-fed lamb and mountain huckleberries.
The Specs - In Idaho it's expected that potatoes play a starring role on the plate. Executive chef Eric Gruber created his signature mashed potatoes ($4 as a side) by combining whipped Idaho russets with rosemary and blue cheese, a combination he swears by. Loyal customers can see why.
The Spot - In the Keys, shorts and flip-flops are de rigueur. But at Pierre's (81600 Overseas Hwy., 305-664-3225) -- a restaurant housed in a large, West Indiesstyle plantation home -- you'll have to step it up to, say, khakis and sneakers. Forgo the whitetablecloth dining room and instead sit on the wraparound porch, overlooking a white-sand beach.
The Specs - To make black truffle mashed potatoes ($8 as a side), chef Ben Loftus cranks russet potatoes through a manual food mill, then adds heavy cream, fresh truffles, truffle oil and butter, creating an earthy dish that seems otherworldly and sophisticated in the land of palm trees.