Rick Bayless--Frontera Grill

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tiki
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2008/02/26 13:32:42 (permalink)

Rick Bayless--Frontera Grill

I have never been there---but have been watching "Mexico-One Plate at a Time"--on PBS---and i must say--i wouod LOVE to taste this guy food---the show and the recipes look wonderful--authentic--and done with love and respect for a cuisine that has always been short changed by MOST of this country----i LOVE Mexican seafood--and so few "Mexican" restaurants feature it---but every recipe for seafood that Bayless does on his show has me drooling!---anyone no anything about him and his places--Frontera and Topolobambo?--some of you Chicago folks must know something---is his place as good as it looks?
#1

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    mikez629
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    RE: Rick Bayless--Frontera Grill 2008/02/26 13:37:17 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by tiki

    I have never been there---but have been watching "Mexico-One Plate at a Time"--on PBS---and i must say--i wouod LOVE to taste this guy food---the show and the recipes look wonderful--authentic--and done with love and respect for a cuisine that has always been short changed by MOST of this country----i LOVE Mexican seafood--and so few "Mexican" restaurants feature it---but every recipe for seafood that Bayless does on his show has me drooling!---anyone no anything about him and his places--Frontera and Topolobambo?--some of you Chicago folks must know something---is his place as good as it looks?

    I have not been to his place, but have had his cooking products-they are very good. You can find them in a local supermarkets
    #2
    mousec
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    RE: Rick Bayless--Frontera Grill 2008/02/26 13:48:57 (permalink)
    His place is great. Been there once and the drinks, food and atmoshpere were amazing. Attached is a link to a local dining podcast where the critics reviewed Frontera Grill.

    [url][/url]http://www.chicagobites.com/mexican/
    #3
    i95
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    RE: Rick Bayless--Frontera Grill 2008/02/26 13:57:23 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by mousec

    His place is great. Been there once and the drinks, food and atmoshpere were amazing.

    [url='http://www.roadfood.com/Forums/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=3248']Agreed[/url]!
    #4
    jmckee
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    RE: Rick Bayless--Frontera Grill 2008/02/27 13:02:54 (permalink)
    A distaff view:

    We went to Frontera with friends a few years back. I find that it's all hype and very little delivery on that hype. We were at the front of the line, so we were seated first when the restaurant opened. I immediately ordered Chiles Rellenos, which had been touted to me to be the best anywhere. I was told they'd "just run out" -- we were the first there!

    Food was good enough, I guess, but too hoity-toity and WAY too expensive.
    #5
    mousec
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    RE: Rick Bayless--Frontera Grill 2008/02/27 13:57:21 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by jmckee

    A distaff view:

    We went to Frontera with friends a few years back. I find that it's all hype and very little delivery on that hype. We were at the front of the line, so we were seated first when the restaurant opened. I immediately ordered Chiles Rellenos, which had been touted to me to be the best anywhere. I was told they'd "just run out" -- we were the first there!

    Food was good enough, I guess, but too hoity-toity and WAY too expensive.
    I'm sorry that you had a poor exeperience. From my perspetive the prices were inline with the other "fine" dining options in the area. Not certain what you mean by hoity-toity? Can you expound upon this comment?
    #6
    westley
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    RE: Rick Bayless--Frontera Grill 2008/02/29 23:21:54 (permalink)
    When I visited Chicago for the first time, Frontera Grill was on the top of my list of places I wanted to visit. I took a taxi from my hotel, which ended up costing a fortune.

    I arrived literally 5 minutes after the last seating for lunch. And they wouldn't take me. I explained that I was from out of town and had really been looking forward to eating there. No dice. The hostess wasn't even sympathetic (and I could see empty places to sit).

    It left such a bad taste in my mouth that I decided not to return, even though I was there for several more days.
    #7
    peterrboice
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    RE: Rick Bayless--Frontera Grill 2008/03/03 17:34:10 (permalink)
    I have been to Frontera many times and to Topolobampo once. Frontera is great and it is a favorite in Chicago. I have all of Rick Bayless's cookbooks - I guess that I am a fan.

    I have had the chiles rellenos only once and have been denied them many times - kind of frustrating, almost a running joke. They are great though - they are identical to those served at the San Angel Inn in Mexico City.

    Frontera is very popular. I estimate that you'll wait 90 min for a table if you arrive at 7:00P on a Thursday evening. Go early in the week, get there early, and even then you might not be among the first group seated.

    Topolobampo was very good and very expensive - about $225 for our group of three with no wine. I'm glad we went, but we probably won't go back - there other fine dining options to explore in this great restaurant town.

    Go to www.chicagoreader.com and search for them in the restaurant section. There are many comments posted.

    #8
    zataar
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    RE: Rick Bayless--Frontera Grill 2008/03/03 20:23:41 (permalink)
    Frontera Grill is wonderful IMO. Topolobampo is amazing. As a chef, I felt totally humbled when I ate at Topolobampo. The food I've had there ranks among the most incredible food I've eaten. It blew me away.

    We had pheasant, duck, pork, beef and fish, all with great components. Each and every dish was unique and delicious. Different chiles, different heat levels and a freshness and complexity that too much food in this country lacks.

    I've posted several times about too much salt being the main flavor in a lot of roadfood. You don't need to use an overload of salt if your ingredients are good and your technique is solid.
    #9
    tiki
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    RE: Rick Bayless--Frontera Grill 2008/03/09 10:11:55 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by zataar

    Frontera Grill is wonderful IMO. Topolobampo is amazing. As a chef, I felt totally humbled when I ate at Topolobampo. The food I've had there ranks among the most incredible food I've eaten. It blew me away.

    We had pheasant, duck, pork, beef and fish, all with great components. Each and every dish was unique and delicious. Different chiles, different heat levels and a freshness and complexity that too much food in this country lacks.

    I've posted several times about too much salt being the main flavor in a lot of roadfood. You don't need to use an overload of salt if your ingredients are good and your technique is solid.


    This good to hear---i trust your opinions and whis was the impression i got fromwatch his tv show----what he did with fish looked fabulous---especially one that he did on the beach with a fish fresh from the sea that he smeared with a rich pepper based paste and cooked in a two side-long handle rack over a wood fire! I saw that he did a lot with game on the Topolobampo menu and was intrigued---done a lot of mexican--but never any game--looked wonderful!
    #10
    holdem
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    RE: Rick Bayless--Frontera Grill 2008/03/20 14:03:42 (permalink)
    Was thinking of getting one of his cookbooks. Any suggestions on which one?
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    kland01s
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    RE: Rick Bayless--Frontera Grill 2008/03/21 08:33:41 (permalink)
    His newest book is Mexican Everyday, I think it best but I also like Mexico- One Plate at a time which is companion to his TV series. All are very well written with clear explanations.
    #12
    godsil
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    RE: Rick Bayless--Frontera Grill 2008/03/24 22:42:09 (permalink)
    We've been to Topolobampo twice. Quite expensive and a pretty long wait for a table. (We enjoyed a few Margarita's while waiting. Also expensive, but superb) I had a wonderful pork dish, as did my hubby. The entire experience feels like a celebration, light hearted and so satisfying. I'd "second" all the other posts about the freshness of ingredients being so evident, as well as the layered complexity....ya can't define it; you know it when you find it.
    #13
    mr. sausage
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    RE: Rick Bayless--Frontera Grill 2008/04/11 00:38:45 (permalink)
    If you arrived at Radio Shack 5 minutes after they closed would you whine that they wouldn't let you in? And then refuse to ever buy batteries there again? It's a business, with employees that are working doubles and need a break, kitchen staff that is cleaning out the lunch stuff and making way for the night crew to prep for dinner. The empty seats? Yeah, it's CLOSED
    quote:
    Originally posted by westley

    When I visited Chicago for the first time, Frontera Grill was on the top of my list of places I wanted to visit. I took a taxi from my hotel, which ended up costing a fortune.

    I arrived literally 5 minutes after the last seating for lunch. And they wouldn't take me. I explained that I was from out of town and had really been looking forward to eating there. No dice. The hostess wasn't even sympathetic (and I could see empty places to sit).

    It left such a bad taste in my mouth that I decided not to return, even though I was there for several more days.
    #14
    westley
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    RE: Rick Bayless--Frontera Grill 2008/04/11 22:52:53 (permalink)
    quote:
    If you arrived at Radio Shack 5 minutes after they closed would you whine that they wouldn't let you in? And then refuse to ever buy batteries there again? It's a business, with employees that are working doubles and need a break, kitchen staff that is cleaning out the lunch stuff and making way for the night crew to prep for dinner. The empty seats? Yeah, it's CLOSED.


    I didn't say that they were CLOSED. I said that it was 5 minutes after they had the last seating. Furthermore, it wasn't about whether they seated me (as I made clear in my post) but the way it was handled. The hostess was not the least bit friendly about it. If she'd simply said, "I'm really sorry, but we have strict rules about not seating people after that time," then I would have felt better about it and probably would have come back for dinner. Instead, she was borderline hostile and not the least bit friendly about it. As a result, they lost a customer. I'm in the process of moving to that area of the country and would never consider eating there -- I don't eat places where the staff are rude. If they want to run their business that way, that's fine, Mr. Sausage, but it was annoying.
    #15
    enginecapt
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    RE: Rick Bayless--Frontera Grill 2008/04/12 08:29:49 (permalink)
    If it wasn't about not being seated, then why did you include the following in your original rant: "and I could see empty places to sit"...?
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    Russ Jackson
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    RE: Rick Bayless--Frontera Grill 2008/04/12 09:16:03 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by westley

    When I visited Chicago for the first time, Frontera Grill was on the top of my list of places I wanted to visit. I took a taxi from my hotel, which ended up costing a fortune.

    I arrived literally 5 minutes after the last seating for lunch. And they wouldn't take me. I explained that I was from out of town and had really been looking forward to eating there. No dice. The hostess wasn't even sympathetic (and I could see empty places to sit).

    It left such a bad taste in my mouth that I decided not to return, even though I was there for several more days.


    Rules are rules and I am adament about being on time. I think I would side with Frontera on this one. If I was late I wouldnt even attempt to eat there. As to them being rude to you. There is never an excuse for being rude to anyone. They should have been direct and polite, then explained the process and asked if you would like reservations for dinner or another date. When I ran a retail we used to state our hours of business from 7am to 9pm and we opened the doors at 6:45 and closed them at 9:15 the employees knew this and a customer never waited in the cold or got shut out...Russ
    #17
    westley
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    RE: Rick Bayless--Frontera Grill 2008/04/12 19:27:48 (permalink)
    Good gosh, sorry that I somehow offended people. I had no idea that describing my experience and disappointment would incite such controversy. I politely withdraw my comments.
    #18
    1bbqboy
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    RE: Rick Bayless--Frontera Grill 2008/04/12 21:56:56 (permalink)
    westley, continue to post. defending your positions is the rule here, not the exception. For what it's worth, I follow Groucho's dictum:
    "I sent the club a wire stating, PLEASE ACCEPT MY RESIGNATION. I DON'T WANT TO BELONG TO ANY CLUB THAT WILL ACCEPT ME AS A MEMBER."
    Groucho Marx
    #19
    zataar
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    RE: Rick Bayless--Frontera Grill 2008/04/13 17:29:12 (permalink)
    Hey Tiki, I think I still have the menu from the night we ate at Topolbompo. I'll try to post exactly what we had!
    #20
    tiki
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    RE: Rick Bayless--Frontera Grill 2008/04/13 20:59:59 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by zataar

    Hey Tiki, I think I still have the menu from the night we ate at Topolbompo. I'll try to post exactly what we had!


    cool--i.d love to see that!
    #21
    zataar
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    RE: Rick Bayless--Frontera Grill 2008/04/14 09:14:09 (permalink)
    This is for you, Tiki! This is what our party of five had at Topolobampo:

    Appetizers:
    Chile Ancho Relleno - filled with chorizo and potato in a sweet and sour escabeche with cinnamon, allspice and black pepper. Amazingly complex.

    Cazuela de hongos - we were there in the springtime so this included morels, local shiitakes and other wild mushroom in a red chile broth with fresh epazote. This dish tasted like Spring.

    Entrees:

    Manchamanteles de Lujo - Almond crusted pork tenderloin in mole with pineapple, plantain and sweet potato. The crunchy crust was great on the juicy pork.

    Faisan a la Jamaica - free range pheasant stuffed with plantains and prunes with a sauce of chile ancho and jamaica blossoms. Jamaica is hibiscus. We all loved the floral qualities in this dish.

    Pato al Chipotle - Roast duck with chipotle chiles, charred tomatoes and dark beer, served with fresh morels and tiny calabacitas (zucchini). Chiles and beer, what's not to like!?

    Ternera en Mole Amarillo - free range veal chop in classic Oaxacan yellow mole with a julienne of zucchini, fennel and chayote. My first experience with Oaxacan style food. It was terrific.

    Chile Rellenos "Topolobampo" - Poblanos stuffed with pozole, calabacitas, grilled red onions, herbs and Texas Jack cheese in a sauce of toasted tomatoes and grilled nopales.


    Lobina en Salsa Verde - Crispy skinned sea bass with roasted tomatillos, chile chilace, fresh mint and garlic potatoes.

    Dessert -

    Torta Kakau - Mexican chocolate torte with vanilla, cinnamon and toasted almonds, served with Kahlua whipped cream and prickly pear sauce.

    Pastelito de Pepita - warm pumpkin seed cake with plantain ice cream and brown butter caramel.

    Crepas con cajeta - buttered crepes with goat milk caramel, plantains and toasted pecans.

    All of the above was helped along with lots of tequila and wines from Texas and Spain.

    It was one of the most wonderful food experiences I've ever had! Every dish was spot on perfect and so complex without being overwrought. One of our party walked past the kitchen on his way to the restroom and saw Rick Bayless behind the line cooking. So he walked to the entrance of the kitchen and told him how wonderful everything was. Rick Bayless was quite gracious and thanked him, then gave a great deal of credit to his staff. That was very cool.
    #22
    firecommander3565
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    RE: Rick Bayless--Frontera Grill 2008/04/14 09:36:14 (permalink)
    There is better fancy "Mexican" here in Chicago.... go to May St. Cafe (on Cermak (2600 South) & May St.) less wait, food is just as good if not better and not all the pretense !!
    #23
    zataar
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    RE: Rick Bayless--Frontera Grill 2008/04/14 09:48:19 (permalink)
    We loved how not pretentious Topolobampo was. Yeah, it was a white tablecloth sort of place, but not at all stuffy and quiet. It was pretty raucous in fact
    #24
    tiki
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    RE: Rick Bayless--Frontera Grill 2008/04/14 10:57:20 (permalink)
    FABULOUS MEAL!!! I LOVE Rellenos!! and both of these sound great. I have the feeling that i will love this place--the impression i get of Bayless is that his establishment MAY be a bit pretentious--but he isnt--that"s part of survival in his line of business---(foodies really are famos for liking that more then they will admit!)i have heard that his staff really likes working for him and having spent a lot of time in commercial kitchens--this is a GREAT THING and not always commen--kitchen turnover is notoriusly high. Alice Waters' Chez Panisse is also NOT cheap and a bit pretentious but I will eat there EVERY time i can!!!--Bayliss'es places could well join Chez Panisse and several other places on that short list of "not cheap but worth every penny" places. Thanks for all the info------'and Firecommander--im putting the May Street cafe on my "Chicago check out list" too!
    #25
    firecommander3565
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    RE: Rick Bayless--Frontera Grill 2008/04/18 18:59:47 (permalink)
    If you love Chile Rellenos I also recommend Nuevo Leon on 18th St (approx 1520 West 18th) . Can't go wrong here either. I love there nachos!! They give you a bowl of chips and salsa, peppers and carrots as soon as you sit, lot's of times a free appetizer at lunch time (maybe it is my uniform.. not sure) and then a great meal. You can really enjoy yourself here pretty cheap!
    #26
    einajr
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    RE: Rick Bayless--Frontera Grill 2008/06/12 00:46:04 (permalink)
    Hello,

    I was wondering if a group ever gets together to go and eat at Tompolobampo. I will be visiting Chicago in July and would like to revisit the restaurant, but wonder if there is a foodie group that visits this restaurant routinely. thanks!
    #27
    soprano1
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    RE: Rick Bayless--Frontera Grill 2008/06/19 17:07:22 (permalink)
    I've been eating at FG and Topolobampo since the year they opened, and have seen no decline in food or service. Some of the staff have been there since the beginning - a very good sign. It's not cheap, but there's really no place like it (either side!). If you're worried about the crowds, go for lunch on Saturday, or go early and eat at the bar. The scene is great and the menu the same.

    ALso: I own and frequently cook from Authentic Mexican and Frontera Kitchen. Rick's cookbooks are clear and the results are remarkable. If you're visiting from out of town, just drop into any supermercado for special ingredients like canned chipotles, epazote and dried chiles, and you'll be there. Really worth making his recipes at home.
    #28
    soprano1
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    RE: Rick Bayless--Frontera Grill 2008/06/19 17:09:43 (permalink)
    Meant to mention that Jill, the wine steward, is worth her weight in gold. She has made wine pairings for us that we never would have dreamt of, and they will transform the experience to another level. Don't get stuck on margaritas and beer - she will show you how to drink wine with fine Mexican food.
    #29
    tiki
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    RE: Rick Bayless--Frontera Grill 2008/06/19 17:54:35 (permalink)
    soprano--thanks---it looks like both sides of the place are going to "Must eat" locations on the next trip trhough Chicago---we hace to go to New York and Boston later this year and most of the flight from here layover in Chicago--my travel agent friend says she can get me tickets that would let me have lunch there while we have LONG stop ovwers--usually a long stop over is a major pain--but i think this one may be a delight!
    #30
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