For Part 1 of my birthday, Nick took me to Frontera Grill for lunch because I’ve been DYING to try the mole that won Rick Bayless the title of Top Chef Masters. Good reason? Hehe

Click here for the Menu’s for all 3 of Rick Bayless’s restaurants!

*Frontera tip* The restaurant DOES take very limited reservations (contrary to what many people tell you), so plan ahead to guarantee yourself a seat!

We were seated right away at a cozy table that was jammed pretty closely to its neighboring tables. A little awkward, especially since the people next to our table kept pointing and talking about the food we ordered because…it was literally 3 feet away from them. But ANYWAYS…

An amuse bouche snack of deep fried nuts were placed on our table. A little on the greasy side, but well-spiced, salty, and perfect for hungry diners or those enjoying Frontera’s famously delicious margarita’s. Which…I didn’t order. (Sorry! I’m just not much of a drinker. The only thing I love is strawberry daquiri’s. hahahah) Now I regret it…a little.

Nick and I couldn’t decide what appetizer to order, so we got the big sampler platter!

Entremes Surtido: appetizer platter of cheesy quesadillas, crispy chicken taquitos with sour cream, tangy ceviche tostadas, crunchy jcama salad and guacamole and tortilla chips served with 2 salsa’s

Overall Tastiness: Will have to depend on what component of the platter we’re talking about. Overall – SO VERY AVERAGE even though they have fancy names. Here’s what was on the platter in detail. You can order all of them separately…which I will next time.

  • Quesadillas Capitalinas: Mexico City-style quesadillas (corn masa turnovers) stuffed with Samuels locally handcrafted Jack cheese and fresh epazote; guacamole to daub.

Tastiness: C. Nick didn’t enjoy this at all, which is strange because he loves cheese and fried food. These were literally fried dough stuffed with cheese and almost non-existent guacamole.

  • Taquitos de Pollo: crispy taquitos filled with chicken, black beans and poblanos, with homemade sour cream, and aejo cheese.

Tastinss: B. Quite good on the inside, not too greasy on the lips, but easily forgettable.

  • Tostaditas de Ceviche: crisp little tortillas piled with lime-marinated Hawaiian blue marlin, manzanilla olives, tomato, serrano, jcama and cilantro.

Tastiness: A. I’m a die-hard ceviche fan and these were fresh, the fish were perfectly seasoned, a little tart, had good chewy texture, and went perfectly with the salsa.

  • Jicama Callejera: crunchy jcama, cucumber and pineapple with fresh lime and crushed guajillo chile

Tastiness: A-. I really enjoyed the cold refreshing tart jicama salad and especially the pineapple slices. They offered a good flavor contrast to the other fried goods on the platter.

Guacamole – Honestly, I think chipotle has the winning recipe here. Overly salted that day! Better off buying it at Xoco, Frontera’s cheaper neighbor sister store.

Our Entrees

Enchiladas de Mole Poblano: homemade tortillas rolled around Gunthorp free-range chicken, doused with Mexicos most famous mole; black beans. 14.75

Tastiness: A-. Nick ordered the mole so I could satisfy my craving with the salmon and graciously allowed me to clean 1/3 of his plate. Hahaha. I literally couldn’t stop eating the enchiladas in mole. The shredded chicken in the tortillas were so well spiced and moist it didn’t need mole. However, the mole was certainly delicious!!! It was bold, smoky, a little sweet, a little spicy, and complex. Like a very special BBQ sauce almost! Nick ate the rest excluding half the black beans. He was not a fan of it hence the A minus!

Pescado del Dia: fresh day-boat catch of the day. Market price.

My description: Mexican marinated and wood grilled wild atlantic salmon served in spicy creamy peanut reduction sauce. Served with a side of refried black beans.

Tastiness: B+. Nick and I agreed the peanut sauce was rather Asian flavor-wise. It tasted just like sweet curry, except much thicker and super peanut-y. The best part of the dish was the PERFECTLY seasoned and grilled salmon, which had a little crunch from the charred edges while the core was still slightly raw. I would have been happy with just the fish.

There were also grilled zucchini pieces in the sauce, which was phenomenal. Everything came with ~6 warm homemade tortillas and a disappointing batch of refried black beans. It was so dry on the outside and tasted bland on the inside with a strange sticky consistency. I didn’t even finish half of it, which is SAD considering black beans are my favorite beans in the world!!

Dessert(s)

Pan de Muerto: Warm brioche Day of the Dead Bread sandwiched with chocolate-Negra Modelo ice cream, calabaza en tacha (Spence Farm pumpkin braised in unrefined cone sugar). Tequila-infused cherries. 8.25

Tastiness: B. Quite a conflicting dish I must say. The highlight was most definitely the negra modelo ice-cream!! Creamy, sweet, a teeny bit alcoholic and mysterious, this beer-based frozen treat now has me curious. How do you make it Rick?? Sadly, the brioche was stale and the cute colorful beads topping the dessert were a DISASTER to eat. They’re so hard on your teeth, overly crunchy, and adds nothing to enhance the flavor of the dish. What a nuisance. Lucky there was yummy sweetened pumpkin and those tequila infused cherries…*drool*

Chocolate Cappuccino: Intelligentsia Black Cat espresso and Oaxacan chocolate steamed with hot milk 5.00

Tastiness: A-. If you love bittersweet chocolate (like the 70% dark cocoa kind) you will love this! It was steamy, slightly sweet, not too creamy, and definitely the perfect blend between chocolate and coffee. Oh YUM for me, but too bitter for Nick. Guess who got to finish it all?

RATINGS

Taste: 4/5 (Hit or Miss. Watch what you order!)

Originality: 4/5 (You have pretty standard appetizers, but there are some really creative entrees!!)

Plating: 4/5

Value: 3/5 (It may be a 2.5 if we went for dinner…pricey!)

Service: 3/5. (Twice, 2 different servers forgot Nick’s “birthday request” after he secretly hunted them down to tell them. Frontera is either understaffed or they really don’t’ give a darn about us…but at least our waiter was knowledgeable and they got our orders right!)

And that was my 2 hour birthday brunch at Frontera Grill. Thanks for joining!! I might be back…for the chocolate cappuccino and my margarita!

Frontera Grill on Urbanspoon

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AND for the Giveaway winners….

DRUM ROLL PLEASE!!!

Krema Peanut Butter Winners

Here are your random numbers:

50  26

Timestamp: 2009-12-01 15:54:16 UTC

#73: Nicole – “1. I am from Chicago, Illinois but currently live in Tulsa, Oklahoma for a bit!
2. I apparently can’t find Krema PB in Oklahoma…but I can buy some when I’m in Chicago next week or for Christmas!!”

#26: Melinda – “Doesn’t look like it is sold in Maryland  My fave PButtery thing is adding it to ice cream.”

SodaStream Winner


Here are your random numbers:

89

Timestamp: 2009-12-01 16:27:25 UTC

#89: Lillian H. – “I would choose Ginger-ale (diet), Lemon-Lime, and Peach Mango if I win. If I could create one, it’d be Lychee-Mango! I’ve also added you to my Google Reader. Love your blog and great giveaway!!!”

Congrats Ladies!!! You’ll be getting an e-mail from me!!!🙂