I had been hearing rumblings about Frido Bistro for a few months and finally decided that it was way past time to check it out. I perused the website, checked out the menu (a few times) and even asked a few people about it. Everything from the atmosphere to the food looked like it was primed for the pallet of Nosh Maven.
People had told me that Frida Bistro was basically “gourmet Mexican”. For some reason, I couldn’t really picture exactly what this might be. Gourmet Latin or Spanish I could get my head around, but I wasn’t quite getting a grasp on a gourmet enchilada. Good news: Frida Bistro isn’t about gourmet bean burritos. Instead, they describe themselves as “sophisticated Mexican gastronomy”. This seems to make a little more sense. Also, anytime a restaurant refers to themselves as “sexy”…I am pretty sure they are adding a little something extra that I am going to love.
Frida Bistro is one of the most unique restaurants in Salt Lake City. First, I have to say, that heading down 700 south, I really felt like I had taken a wrong turn, wrote down the wrong address, or totally missed the location entirely of this restaurant. As I drove past Kilby Court, a great hang out spot for music, I wasn’t exactly sure that I was going to find a gourmet anything. But we trekked on, and there it was–in the middle of industrial SLC, a beautifully lit patio with an inviting sign letting us know we were in the right location. Whew! I have to say, I LOVE this location. It is quiet, but still downtown. It is bustling, but you can still find parking. It is “city”, but it is hidden. It is almost as if they knew they didn’t need to be in the middle of it all to be amazing. And, they are right.
There were five of us in our dinner party. We were greeted with a welcoming smile and seated after a few minutes of waiting. It was a busy Friday night, and we did have to wait a while for our cocktails. We also had to wait a while for our server. Now, after being in the restaurant business for so long, I realize that a busy Friday night in a nice restaurant will take a little more time, however, there may have been some rumblings about the wait time. It also may have been the hungry stomachs. Regardless, once the cocktails DID reach our table, everyone quieted right down and instead went nuts for the intense and original flavors of Frida’s margaritas. The winner of the evening was the pineapple cilantro margarita. Fresh cilantro was blended right in and it was a refreshing cocktail with a kick of flavor that I have never experienced before. Cilantro in a margarita…who knew? Believe me, it totally makes sense.
Of course, we also had to wet our pallets with some appetizers. It actually took us a bit to come to some decisions, as everything in Frida’s appetizer section looked pretty killer. We decided on three: Esquite ($6), Queso Fundido with Chorizo ($7) and Calamari ($12).
The Esquite was probably my favorite. We actually looked up “Esquite” via iPhone before ordering and found out it was sort of like corn on the cob in a dish. Let’s just say, it tasted a lot more complex and delicious than that. There was corn, there was some kind of cheese, and whatever else was in this dish was tasty.
The queso was also divine. Very rich, velvety and the perfect blend of spice. You can’t beat cheese and sausage. This was one of the better queso dips I have had in a long while.
And last but absolutely not least, the calamari. The calamari was battered with blue corn and was so beautiful. Also, it was not so much breading that the calamari got lost in the process. The aioli was spicy and right on target. Such a great dish!
We were happy campers with the beverages and the appetizers, that is for sure.
I have one rule when I do a review and take guests along with me and that is that everyone MUST order something different. When we all first sat down, three people in our party wanted the same thing: Pollo Relleno Poblano. I had to put my foot down! It couldn’t have been a better rule because the five dishes we ordered were actually ALL fantastic. I really couldn’t believe it. Out of FIVE dishes, you would have though maybe one wouldn’t have been so great. Not the case. Not the case at all.
The Pollo Relleno Poblano was pretty fantastic: Chicken breast stuffed with cream cheese, topped with poblano cream sauce, and served with roasted potatoes and Mexican rice. ($18). You want rich wonderful flavor? This is a great dish and priced favorably.
The Carnitias were awesome. The pork was tender and moist and the tortillas were pretty awesome too: Carnitas de Puerco: This dish from Michoacán features fried leg of pork basted in a sweet citrus glaze, served with chipotle mashed potatoes, two salsas and handmade corn tortillas. ($17).
Frida does pretty sensational with seafood. The Camarones Diego had unbelievable rich flavor: Fried shrimp over grilled nopal cactus, topped with smoked jalapeño and Manchego cheese sauce. Served with tres verdes rice ($25). And the Halibut dish was light but exploding with flavor. The Halibut isn’t listed currently on the menu on Frida’s website, but if you are lucky enough to have this on the menu when you go, it is a superb choice!
I ordered the scallops dish and if I could accurately describe to you the flavor of the sauce these perfect scallops were dressing themselves up in, I would be a much better writer than I am. This sauce was heavy and rich, but also very much an accent as well. It was sweet and syrupy and also mild enough to not be overbearing. The color was unbelievable and everything worked so well together to promote the flavor of the seafood. Also, the nopales cactus that comes with some of these dishes (the green beauty under the scallops and also was included in the shrimp and halibut dishes) is filled with amazing flavor. I was in heaven. Callos de Acha: Seared diver scallops in a pomegranate chile dárbol reduction with steamed cabbage on nopales. ($24)
I hope you are all drooling over these dishes by now. Frida Bistro was quite the experience. It really is a sexy little restaurant with some really creative things going on. The food is well thought out, inventive, and also at the same time true to the flavors that one would expect to a certain degree. A menu that changes seasonally with selections that are each innovative makes you feel as though no matter what you choose to eat at Frida, you won’t be disappointed. Enjoy the food, the art, and the atmosphere and don’t forget, $25 bucks for food that is an experience, not just sustenance, is well spent. I can’t wait for the Fall/Winter menu!