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Nov 11, 2008 05:31 AM

Frida - New high end Mexican

They're trying really hard. From the moment you walk through the door, you are welcomed enthusiastically to this mid sized, nicely renoed space (formerly occupied by Boujadi) on Eglinton.

My experience is based around two dishes only. The guacamole was delicious, served with house-made tortilla chips, with some arugula tossed in a pepper oil on the side. Good combination, and a nice heat in the guac. (11$ for the large, 8$ for the small).

The quail with mole were also delicious, served with rice, toasted sesame seeds, and a side of different seasonal veg on a separate plate. The quail were mostly deboned and perfectly cooked. The veg could have used some seasoning to bring them out a bit more. Spinach, yellow carrots, green beans and small yellow beets were perfectly cooked, they just seemed to not marry into the mole. I'm guessing Cookstown, so clearly an effort to do the local organic thing. Cocktails looked great, wine markup might be a little north of 100% on a small well-chosen list. (28$ for the large, with 2 quail)

Overall impression, the food is laboriously faithful to the culture in terms of the basics, and they're trying hard on service and presentation. I think the price points reflect the choice of ingredients, and might be a bit of a departure from the culture. The arugula worked with the guac; I'm not sure the local veg worked with the quail. Two dishes don't define a restaurant though. Nicely executed. Similar price points to Milagro, slightly more formal, and more intimate. I'd go back.

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  1. Is this the guac made to order?

    1 Reply
    1. re: sake

      While not made table side, I'm certain that it's made immediately prior to serving.

    2. "the food is laboriously faithful to the culture..." I'd say faithful to Rick Bayless after a quick once-over of the menu. They'll need more than passable guacamole and Bayless-style dishes to stay afloat. With respect, this doesn't look promising.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Kagemusha

        Two years later Milagro is still thriving.

        1. re: Snarf

          For the life of me, can't figure out why! This place is so not good.....a few things were, but not much. Overpriced margeritas, not that good either. And the place on the corner of Bloor and? I think Shaw? UGH!
          I was appalled at the food. El Paso at home is much better. The fried rice was cold, dry refied beans, . It was yukky from begining to end and the woman who owned it was not helpful in recommending anything unique or authentic. I don't get the rave reviews?

          Sadly, no there isn't much to offer in Toronto in the true Mexico food, but then....we aren't Texas or California or New Mexico with that ample heritage from south of their borders.

          Having said all that, I am curious about Frida's. It sounds hopeful. In ther meantime..Frito Lays will have to do!

        2. re: Kagemusha

          I'm not sure what you mean by less Bayless-style dishes - I love Rick Bayless's recipes.

          1. re: SusanB

            Right, but this place seems doomed to fall between the stools of Bayless "interpretive" Mexican and "Mom&Pop" Mexican. Frankly, the pricing seems steep for what's on offer. I'll probably try it but won't till I get back from Phoenix early next month after some serious eating. For me, TO has yet to establish a firm base of stable, reasonably authentic Mexican joints; without that, a place like Frida, like its clientele, has no reference point.

          2. re: Kagemusha

            Bayless style dishes executed at Bayless level...we should be so lucky! Milagro doesn't come close.

          3. Definitely on a list of places to try soon.

            1. I appreciate the post as we all know that great Mexican is hard to find in this city. Plus I never made it to Boujadi before its demise - despite it being on my list for about 2 years! -so perhaps I can get a second chance in this incarnation.

              On the other end of the price spectrum, and what I can only assume is a much more "down home" kind of place, I can't say enough great things about El Jacal (El Jacalito) at Bloor and Dufferin. A friend from Mexico recommended it and we've now been 3 or 4 times. This is the kind of casual "hole in the wall-ish" spot where you kick back with a couple of beers, watch a football (soccer) game while enjoying some truly delicious food and warm family hospitality. Their nachos and guacamole are perfectly fresh and flavourful. You can get 3 different tacos for about $10. Their green and red sauces add a real hit of flavour. Dinner for 2 will maybe set you back $50. I don't know why this place isn't more known or praised on this board.

              2 Replies
              1. re: peppermint pate

                I haven't been to the Bloor St location of El Jacalito, but often went to the original location on Milvan Drive, near Finch and Weston Rd. It's been mentioned on the board, but there are many good restaurants in Toronto that are rarely mentioned here.

                1. re: foodyDudey

                  True - it's just that there are so often threads that lament the sad state of Mexican food in Toronto and I haven't seen El Jacal mentioned that often. It's also one of those places I like to champion because, apart from being really good, I selfishly want to make sure it has enough customers to stay in business!

              2. Been twice, once just a date,once with another couple. Great service - they were jammes the first night we showed (without a reservation). They have a a table and a time limit, and we agreed.

                Decor: Not sombrero or Mexican flag in site. Dark tile walls; small (wait - let's say intimate).

                I asked the server whether they made a Michelada - she sai if the bartender didn't, she'd make me one. Agreed it the best drink ever om the beach.

                We stuck with appetizers.

                Guac -excellent - chile oil drizzle over, not mixed in. Nice modern presentation. Interactive spicing - like it.

                Tortilla soup - awesome comfort food.
                Shredded flank steak - really speacial - beautifully handled pulled steak from favorite cut (with good beef flavor, and smoky spice on back end.

                Duck tostodas - lovely - eat before beef - preferably with something lse in between.
                Queso Fundido - tasty, gooey, hot with the strips of pepper.

                I hate live music, but their combo (acoustice guitar and french horn -awsome,

                Go if you like Mexican. Marg's to tart,however. Needs sugar.