On my New Year's Eve date, I am the one who is infatuated and he is the one who probably can't even remember meeting me. OK, truth: I had the enviable opportunity to spend a New Year's Eve meal at Frontera Grill (one of three incredible restaurants belonging to Master Chef Rick Bayless) in Chicago, while visiting my husband's generous parents.
It was a pre fixe meal and my in-laws were a little concerned that it might mean a "less than" experience (flavor-wise) and one of those rushed "get you in, get you out" evenings. We arrived to energetic music being played by Mariachi Guadalajara who according to Chef Bayless have been playing their New Year's celebrations for 20 years!
We were seated right away by an attentive, informed and lovely server who also gave us all the trimmings for celebration: tiara, horns and streamers. The whole restaurant had that feeling of being surrounded by strangers who were merely "friends we haven't met yet."
Then the food parade began - at least 6 appetizers without a loser among them. We ate Lamb Chorizo Enchilada, Black Cod Cocktail with Plaintain chip, Delicata Squash Soup w/Lobster and Shrimp, Fresh Guacamole, and Porcini Empanadas.
The entree was the one portion of the meal left to our choosing, but it wasn't a choice from just 2 things that felt like "leftovers from this week's CSA box". There were about 6-8 choices that included Shrimp with lime, Flank Steak, Chile Relleno, Rubbed Duck with Mole, Salmon; more than I can even remember (did I mention how great the Ginger Mojitos were?) There were 5 of us at the table and we all chose completely different meals and, of course, tasted each other's dishes. Again, not a bad one in the ranks. When does that happen?
I had left messages on Twitter to @Rick_Bayless for weeks about visiting Chicago, and he (or someone close to him) even answered me on occasion. This afternoon, just for fun, I left a twitter message to his site - "We have rezzies for 5 ppl tonight at 6:15 at Frontera, will I see you there?" No more than a couple hours later HE answered with "YES." So, I took him up on it and between courses asked one of the beautiful hostesses about Chef Bayless having time to meet and greet.
A picture is worth a thousand words: Can ya tell I'm happy?
Is there a sweeter Chef? And speaking of sweet; the dessert was no less impressive. There were THREE different and delicious servings PER person.
I want to thank Chef Rick Bayless (for allowing me to swoon over him and his talents), Chef Richard for setting up such an amazing selection, and the very talented cooks and staff at Frontera Grill. I don't usually do "reviews" of restaurants, just raves and recommendations and I absolutely suggest you travel, reserve and plan on a visit to this place. Tell my pal, Rick Bayless, that Cathy at ShowFoodChef sent you and give him a hug from me. He'll know who I am. :D