I think I've mentioned it on the blog once or twice before, but I have very strange reactions when eating mushrooms (and not just the "magic" kind—in fact, I've never had those...to the best of my knowledge, anyway). After consuming a food-grade mushroom, my stomach instantly feels like it's on fire, and my heart beats harder and faster than usual. Coincidentally, Sonia has similar reactions to certain varieties of mushrooms, particularly button mushrooms. But apparently, portobello does not produce any reaction for Sonia—which is good for the sake of this review, and good for Sonia, because unlike me, she really enjoys the taste of most mushrooms, despite her unusual response to certain species. And both of us do, on occasion, simply bite the bullet and eat mushrooms—even the kinds that we're sensitive to, and we just suck it up and deal with the palpitations. Such was the case for me in this instance. All that to say, I feel like shafting this product just because I can't fully enjoy it would be doing a disservice to the vast majority of our readers.
I was already starting to notice a buzz about these portobello mushroom fries on Facebook and Twitter, when I received a fascinating email from a reader who pointed out that there are some things that truly make this product unique and progressive in the world of packaged, frozen foods. These mushrooms are harvested, battered, cooked, and frozen over the course of just a few hours—not the usual formula for pre-packaged, fried foods. In that reader's own words, these mushroom fries "could be the start of a trend to reverse our walk toward the edge of the industrial food cliff." He thinks success with these mushroom fries will bring "hope that more (foods) will be brought to us in this most life-sustaining manner." Thanks for your unique insight, James, and thanks for the heads up on this product. Click here to check out more of James's thoughts on this product and others.
When we removed the fries from the oven, some of them were quite crispy, and some not so much. The crispier fries were much better than the others, both in texture, and in my opinion, in taste as well. So I'd say err on the side of "burned" unless you like your mushroom fries juicy and moist, but like most anything you heat in the oven, there's a magic sweet spot in between "soggy" and "burned to a crisp." I think we had ours in for the full 15 minutes but maybe wouldn't have minded another minute or two in the heat.
I did appreciate their taste—at least more than most mushroom products I've tried. They have that subtle, earthy, almost nutty flavor that good quality mushrooms tend to flaunt. The batter was nice, too, though Sonia wishes there were more of it. It's a thin layer of wheat batter with a hint of garlic and pepper—so thin, in fact, that in many spots, it doesn't completely coat the mushroom. But I guess that's helpful if you're trying to keep your carb intake to a minimum. We served them with Trader Joe's Sriracha Ranch and also tried them with marinara sauce. We both agree the Sriracha Ranch worked best, although the hot sriracha flavor dominated the subtle taste of the mushroom fries.
Sonia gives this a four. Despite my aversion to mushrooms, if I were to score it, I'd probably give it a 3 or 3.5 or so for virtue of it being the best mushroom product I've ever tried. But instead, I'll score this product according to the chorus of fans it's already gathered on social media, Sonia's co-workers, and people like readers James and Janice, and I'll go with a 4.5 on their behalf.
Bottom line: 8.5 out of 10.