Salt Lakers still aren't quite comfortable with the whole idea that Mexican food is more than a combination plate involving tacos and chile verde.
Nevertheless, Jorge Fierro's Frida Bistro continues to evolve into itself, an exotic plant thriving outside its natural zone. A new seasonal menu was debuted last week, and once again, it surpasses its predecessors and sets a new high bar for, well, itself, since there's really nothing to compare it with.
What have come to be Frida classics remain on the menu: chiles en nogada, huitlacoche quesadilla and the lovely Camarones Diego–shrimp in a chiopotle cream with tres verdes rice and cactus salad.
New: the tostaditas de bufalo, chunks of lean bison marinated in achiote and citrus, giving it a sweet glaze before the char of the grill, piled on crisp tortilla chips with grilled pineapple, red onion and micro greens,
a big mouthful of contrasting flavors and crisp textures and meaty chew. I could have eaten a plateful by myself, enjoyed a couple of Frida's marvelous margaritas and called it a night.
Glad I didn't.
Because even after the remarkable new entrees we tried–atun en frutado, a piece of seared tuna rubbed with three different chiles, accented with a sweet berry relish and an earthy beet reduction and served with startling grilled watermelon; citrus-glazed pork carnitas with pork belly and chipotle mashed potatoes; chicken chunks stuffed with cotija cheese and moistened with avocado puree and a yellow pepper and citrus sauce–you want to save a slice of appetite for dessert.
The beautiful thing about Frida's menu is the way it mixes the remarkably broad resources of Mexico–fish and seafood, tropical fruit, chiles, pork and corn–with its rich heritage–Indian, Spanish, Moorish and, yes, American.
This balance is furthered in Peter Korth's dessert menu. He makes a sweet corn cheesecake, grounding the often-cloying sweetness of the usual NYC dessert with the heft of corn.
For the Plátano Macho Split, Korth sautes baby plantains in butter and brown sugar, Bananas Foster-style, but substitutes anejo tequila for the rum, and tops them with homemade ice creams: tres leches (made with sweetened condensed milk, like the famous cake), chocolate (made from Mexican chocolate pasteles) and strawberry. Diners add their own toppings: toasted coconut, pepita brittle, chocolate and cajeta, the divine Mexican goats 'milk caramel.
You get the message–you need to go eat at Frida.