On my recent vacation to Chicago, I had one specific restaurant I wanted to try – Rick Bayless’ Frontera Grill. For those who aren’t familiar with Rick Bayless, he is the winner of the first season of Top Chef Masters. Bayless specializes in Mexican cuisine and his winning dish on the show featured his famous mole. I just had to try it.
I arrived at the restaurant on a Saturday night around 6:30pm, and it was crazy packed. The wait for a table was about 2 hrs, but luckily bar seating is first come first serve and we got a table in about 20 minutes. In the meantime, I ordered a Blue Agave Margarita and let loose.
For appetizer, we ordered the Ceviche de Atun Moderno (Hawaiian yellowfin tuna, grilled pineapple, jicama, mango, passion fruit, serrano, cilantro, lime). The tuna was really fresh and the ceviche had a good citrus flavor. However, the pineapple, mango and passion fruit was a bit overpowering, making the ceviche a little too sweet. It was still quite a delicate ceviche though and I wouldn’t mind having it again.
For my main course, I ordered the Pato en Mole de Cereza (wood-grilled Gunthorp duck breast, dried cherry mole (ancho, pasilla, almond, allspice), dried cherry tamal, caramelized brussels sprouts, duck chicharron crunch). The dish was absolutely amazing and probably the single best Mexican dish I have ever tasted. First of all, the duck breast was grilled a perfect medium rare. The dried cherry tamal was super sweet with a good corn flavor. The brussels sprouts with that caramelization was one of the best I’ve ever tasted. And the exquisite dried cherry mole sauce became the base of the dish that connected all the different parts. The mole had such a rich and bold flavor, but also had a sweetness that was good on just about everything. If I could, I would buy that mole and just put it in everything I eat.
My brother went with the Puerco al Criollo (grill-roasted Gunthorp Duroc pork loin, criollo sauce (roasted tomato, morita chile, pineapple, bacon), classic white rice, Bill’s spinach). I only had one bite, but the pork loin was tender and juicy (not dry at all). The spinach was cooked in some type of butter sauce that was awesome. The criollo sauce with the bacon was flavorful and made it such a great dish. You can hardly ever go wrong with bacon in a sauce.
All in all, a very successful dinner in Chicago. I’m really glad I had a chance to try Frontera Grill and the food that Rick Bayless has to offer. I now have a whole new perception of Mexican cuisine and it is simply amazing. How will I ever go back to eating Mexican food at Chevy’s again?!