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Batter Up: Mastering the Art of Deep-Frying 

Wednesday, Aug 8 2012
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A graffiti-covered sliding window behind a cold, windy Muni stop in the Excelsior District seems an odd spot for the city's lone dive specializing in Texas State Fair "cuisine." Odder still, its owner, Patrick Lee, is a San Francisco-bred dot-com escapee whose only prior restaurant experience consisted of busing tables at his aunt's pizza parlor downtown. Yet every day, Lee mans his minuscule space (only one person can fit at a time) and, armed with a deep-fryer no bigger than those found in home kitchens, doles out a dizzying array of battered-and-fried treats.

You can't visit without trying a classic corn dog ($3.75). Lee uses Evergood all-beef frankfurters, which stay snappy despite a generous coating of barely crunchy, faintly sweet cornmeal. (Like a pedigreed chef, Lee refused to divulge any details about the recipe for his batter.) Even better was a Schwarz smoked bratwurst, its more intense flavor truly able to stand up to the breading.

Vegetarians can get in the deep-fried action with "cheese dogs," ($3) essentially fried cheese cubes with an appealing crispy-gooey contrast. And while you're indulging, you might as well try one of the eight desserts ($2), including deep-fried Twinkies, Oreos, and Snickers bars.

Lee conceived of Batter Up back in his dot-com days and waited for someone else to create it. No one did, and eventually he decided to give it a shot, using his friends and family as taste-testers. He's in the process of launching a food truck and plans to have more menu variety when he's mobile, though he's got no intention of ditching the deep-fryer.

We just hope he keeps the Triple Play ($4.75), your choice of three different sausages crammed on a stick before given a dip, until we have a chance to try it.

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Alexander Hochman

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