A lot of people attribute the recent popularity of tater tots on restaurant menus to Napoleon Dynamite, the 2004 cult favorite with a great classroom scene featuring the mini potato bites. But Alan Morstein, owner of Regi's American Bistro in Federal Hill, was way ahead of the movie. He introduced A.J.'s tater tots to diners eight years ago. "I'm the man who put tater tots on the map," he proclaims. That could be, but several other local restaurants have the golden hash-brown nuggets on their menus, too. And they've come a long way since Ore-Ida brought them to our plates in 1954. Ale Mary's, for instance, doctors theirs with all sorts of good stuff: cheese, crab, Reuben dip. "They're a huge seller," says chef/co-owner Mary Rivers. No surprise, says Morstein, "It's comfort food."
Small potato nuggets become a menu staple at local restaurants.
Issue date: September, 2009