Two Nights - Two Great Meals (long)
On Tuesday, having suffered through 3 days of decreasing heat in our apartment (culminating in none), we packed up and moved to the Hilton Suites Hotel, vowing to stay there until the building's boiler was replaced and the place was habitable again. On the principle of making lemonade out of lemons, we decided to treat it all as a lark and have some fun (which means "dining out"). The result was that we had two extremely nice meals.
Tuesday night we went to The Saloon Steakhouse (chosen because it was only a block away, but also on the recommendations of a particular Chowhound, and I'm sorry I can't remember who - but Thank you!). We started with a wonderful soup that included duck, pork and veggies - also a salad that had a very fresh-tasting blue cheese dressing (both these came with the meal - a rarity these days). I had the Wagyu ribeye (a whopping $56), and my husband had the Filet. Both were excellent. My quibble was that the ribeye didn't exactly replicate our experiences with beef in Japan (all of which was out-of-this-world mouth-meltingly delicious) - but I was happy with it, and my husband was very, very happy with it. The flavor was excellent, and it was way more tender then any other ribeye I've ever had. We also had a side of the potatoes au gratin, and they were delicious, very cheesey, with a hint of Jalapeno. Drinks and wines were very good. The service was great - our waitress was from the old school - brisk, efficient, no-nonsense, no phoney friendliness - just all business. In all, a great meal, and we'll certainly be back.
Last night we went to Frontera. This is among our favorite restaurants, but because of our schedules, we're rarely able to go at a time when we can get in. This time, because we were a short cab ride away, we arrived at about 6:45. On the phone we were told the wait would be "45 minutes to an hour." When we got there we were told the wait would be "1/2 hour to 45 minutes." The next minute, we were told that we could be seated immediatley! This was actually a problem! We don't eat that early! We decided to drink for an hour before ordering food. I had a Pomegranite Mojito, a "Vampira," then a Mezcal Margarita (finished up with another Pomegranite Mojito with dinner). They were all very good. My husband stuck to the Mezcal Margaritas, until dinner, when he had wine. The sommelier was very helpful - bringing him two half-glasses when he couldn't decide between two different reds.
The regional specialties from Chiapas that we had last time were gone - so we ordered fresh Stone Crab Claws and the Gorditas de Pato for appetizers. Both were excellent. For entrees we had the baby back rib special, and the scallops in a red pipian (we had never had a red pipian at Frontera before). Both dishes were outstanding. The ribs, in particular, were stellar - I'm sorry I can't describe them fully - they were a special, and I never really heard the details on how they were prepared - but they had a hot and sweet glaze, and were as tender as they could be. They did not taste smoky, but they had been grilled. For dessert we had a delicious flan ringed with pomegranite seeds and other crunchies.
As we rolled ourselves into the cab afterward, we marvelled at how Rick Bayless and his staff keep Frontera fresh and amazing, after all these years.