We had our holiday party on Sunday night. The managers and chefs did all the work. They cooked and served us Indian food. The boss came around passing out holiday bonuses to all of us present. Then we gathered in Frontera Grill and chef Rick and Deann spoke and presented gifts to those who had been with the restaurant 5, 10, 15 and 20 years. Juana who runs food at lunch had been there 20 years and Marilu who runs food at night also celebrated 20 years. Its great to be a part of a team that does the right thing. Next year there will be some celebrating 25 years.
At the meeting this week we were given pages listing all the dishes that had been on the menu the previous year. Chef Rick asked all of us to relate our favorite small plates, entrees, desserts and cocktails from the ever changing menu and spoke a little about each dish, and Deann wrote down and tallied the responses.
I choose the sweet potato garnachas small plate. It was my first time having the combination of sweet potato and corn masa as a vessel for pork, and I liked how the sweet potato complimented the grilled orange and jicama salsa. The mackinac char with rotating salsas made from the rooftop grown tomatoes was my pick for entree. It was my first time saying “mackinac” correctly, and no matter what chiles, herbs, or seasonings, the acidity of the homegrown tomatoes made the lake fish shine.
Pan de muerto was my favorite dessert- I had it maybe eight times the month it was on the menu. It was a trifle layed with maple syrup soaked brioche and pumpkin mousse with the buried treasure of pomegranate seeds, nuts and tequila soaked cherries. After maybe the fifth time ordering that for lunch, I was staring at the way the brioche looked like a skull and crossbones. That lead to me going home and googling more about Day of the Dead and reading about how folks believe the millions of monarch butterflies migrating to Michoacan from Canada are the souls of ancestors returning home.
My favorite cocktail was JJ’s elixir, named for our bar manager- fig infused rye whiskey, great on its own, mellowed by hard cider from Michigan. And when chef asked what change to the restaurant was the best, for me, it was when they changed the menu format for the first time in twenty years to make it more relevant, and after a few months, had a meeting to take suggestions on the way forward. The bosses listened and actually implemented the changes, and made things way better. Chef said for those who like to challenge themselves, there’s a lot to look forward to in 2013.