Thursday, October 1, 2009

Dinner at LaFrida's

The restaurant chain is named after Frida Kahlo, an artist who was popularized in Mexico during the 1980's, almost three decades after her death, and also in the movie Frida, naturaleza viva (1983), directed by Paul Leduc with Ofelia Medina as Frida and painter Juan José Gurrola as Diego, which was a huge success at the time.

Jey-hu had been to the chain's restaurant in Puerto Vallarta a few years ago and had a very good memory of dining there, so we made a reservation at the one at Pueblo Bonita at Sunset Beach for Wednesday night. The photo of the 'painting,' probably a reproduction of the original, is at the entrance to this establishment and the decor is all about the colorful aspects of Mexican heritage - very well done.

And it was not the only good thing, thankfully. The service was close to being 5 *****, and although clearly the menu was the chef's platform for his creativity, my only suggestion would be to offer at least one item which could be tastefully presented but which doesn't require using every spice in the Mexican kitchen.

My choice was the Sea Bass (shown to the left) which was delectable, just barely encrusted from the searing and appropriately moist inside - very tender. The chef from another restaurant in Cabo (recently reviewed) could take a few lessons here. It was perched (no seafood pun intended) on some diced pieces of shrimp with assorted thinly sliced vegetables in a sort of Mexican-style Ratatoille. Some people might like this sort of fish on soup deal; it was a little too slurpy for me. However, it gets a huge plus for being a really good eating experience overall.

Jey-hu selected the blackened chicken smothered in sage which he proclaimed to be tasty and also moist enough to be enjoyed; he prefers dark meat as a rule. Accompanied by a mashed potato, restructured to look like a potato without skin, and hominy grits and vegetables in an exceptional hot spice sauce, it was too much food for even the usually very hungry Jey-hu.

Still, we were persuaded to try their desserts: caramelized creme brulee for me and homemade chocolate ice cream with a sort of donut-style cookie for Jey-hu - hard to explain - and which were both unique in their own right. The added caramel in the brulee did not appeal to me; in other words, I would not order it again, but it was certainly delicious in all respects. Jey-hu said that his dessert met his expectations - cool and sweet but the chocolate ice cream was more chocolate than sweet; he liked that.

The added attraction was a Spanish/Mexican singer accompanied by a pianist which made the entire dinner event very special. Sometimes when entertainment is offered it is so intrusive it is difficult to hear your dinner companions. This was definitely not the case, even when she came over to our table, making the rounds to all.

We came away fully stuffed and satisfied, if a little undone by the large peso bill... over $1500 including the tip. No wine, no drinks, just an entree and dessert. If the dollar drops any more, we could be looking at just this kind of fee for a really good meal just over the border... yikes!

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