Frontier food and prejudice

I went for lunch today with two of my American friends, who really wanted to try Frontier, a north American restaurant which has opened up near Bruntsfield Links in Edinburgh.

There was quite a few dishes I had heard about, mainly from films but never tried such as cat fish, and Philly cheese steak settled in among the more well known hot dogs and burgers.  We all really wanted to try several dishes, so opted to order one each and share.

Cat fish

I’d often heard about cat fish in films set in the south, but had never tried it.  It was baked in parchment with orange, a preparation my guru’s for all thing America had not seen before.  The result was succulent, fragrant, surprisingly light and well accompanied with fresh salsa.  The fries felt a bit more like chips, but overall a good dish and a fish I’d definitely try again.


The carnitas came with a flour tortilla, salsa, sour cream and guacamole.  The pork itself was incredibly tender, moist and suffused with lime and spice making a flavoursome dish.

Colorado casserole

We all agreed that this was the stand out dish from the three we ordered.  Made with a mix of pork and beef with ancho and pasilla chilli, chipotle and chocolate, topped with cheese and sour cream.  It’s the tender meat and blend of spice which make it so wonderful.  The chocolate far from being overpowering lent a baritone of flavour to the stews tingling warmth that made this the perfect dish for a snowy Edinburgh day.

While we tucked into our dishes, I also realised something about myself.  I had been unconsciously carrying around a prejudice against American food.  In my mind I had consigned it all to the boxes marked “unhealthy” and “fattening”.  I myself get annoyed at people who assume all Scottish food is deep fried and unhealthy, but I had treated American cuisine in exactly the same way.

At the back of my mind I expected Frontier to confirm my prejudice.  It didn’t.  The dishes were fresh, well seasoned and flavoursome.  Yes, because they are kind of meat heavy if you eat a lot of it all the time and don’t have the calorie expenditure of a cowboy you’d put on weight.  But if you eat too much of any national cuisine you’ll put on weight.  It’s the eating too much or with little variation, not the cuisine that is unhealthy.  My sincere apologies to the chefs and cooks of the United States.

We none of us tried the desserts, but the menu does look pretty special and I plan to take my daughter for the Funfair Sundae.  I opted to finish with tea, which unfortunately was not great.  This may be the one are where my newly discovered and slain prejudice against American food may have been right.  I’d be happy to be proven wrong there too.

On top of the really excellent food I also have to put a word in for the staff.  Our waitress Sarah was friendly and efficient.  My friends also made some enquiries about how to source some of the American ingredients that they hadn’t been able to find in Edinburgh and the staff were able to give some tips and pointers about what they could do.  My customer service standards were both met and exceeded.

A delightful and pleasant experience.  We all plan to return.





3 thoughts on “Frontier food and prejudice

  1. I’ll accept the apology on all our behalf. 🙂

    It’s worth pointing out that lean meats aren’t especially calorie-heavy; fatty cuts are. There’s a reason diabetics are encouraged to eat plenty of lean meats. Most American foods don’t have all that serious a problem with bad/unhealthy ingredients (heavily processed and pre-pack foods excepted, but that’s true anywhere); if there’s one thing readily available there, it’s an enormous variety of quality ingredients. I miss that here, the ability to pick up just about any recipe and be able to find the ingredients within 20 miles of home, 90% of the time in the same grocery store where I bought everything else.

    That restaurant sounds like somewhere I need to try. From your descriptions:

    Catfish — That prep would strike me as really, really, really frou-frou for catfish. I lived a large portion of my life in Louisiana, and catfish is supposed to be battered and deep-fried. Period. If you’re incredibly health-conscious you might be able to get it grilled, but you’d almost certainly have to ask. Cat is also a fish you don’t want to think very hard about the life cycle of before eating it. 🙂

    Carnitas — Sounds dead on, and that makes me happy. The food I probably miss the most here is properly done Mexican/Southwestern. I can make most of the Cajun foods I also miss, but lack of ingredients here makes that and Mexican a real challenge.

    Colorado Casserole — Actually does sound like something that would go on a family table in the Southwest, probably with black beans or possibly rice as a base. The chocolate would most likely be swapped for unsweetened cocoa powder or left out entirely; the closer to Mexico, the more likely the cocoa would be in there.

    Randomly: Hot dogs are considered junk food in the US — a beloved junk food, but just that. I’ve seen a few places treat them as some kind of American “cuisine,” and I find that pretty hilarious. Don’t even get me started on the canned ones I’ve seen here (The hell?). I am absolutely terrified of what a Philly cheesesteak might come out looking like in a place where I’ve never been able to find a jar of Cheez Whiz or an American cheese that doesn’t look like linoleum. Oh, and don’t expect to ever have your mind changed about tea. I’ve always found what’s usually passed off as tea (hot or iced) in the US to be ridiculously weak; I can about guess how it would go over here. However, coffee is about 57 bazillion times better there.


  2. Thanks for your comment Maia! I would really recommend Frontier – I’m definitely going back. Also, my friends are going to try and get catfish so I’m looking forward to trying more of that, they’ve also promised biscuits and gravy, which is new to me too. It’s great exploring other cultures food.

    I also love Tex Mexx, and the best I’ve so far is Tex Mexx 2 on Thistle St, they know what to do with pink peppercorns.

    I’ve pretty much given up on getting good tea in anywhere but the UK. Even then a lot of places here don’t make it properly because they use coffee machines to make it, when you really need boiled water. Sigh…. British problems.

    Let me know how you find it if you manage to get along.


    1. Oooh, biscuits and gravy. I make that every once in a while when I just can’t stand life without it any more. A good sausage gravy is a work of art, I kid you not. Mmm, I’m thinking I know what tomorrow’s breakfast is going to be. 🙂 Come to think of it, it’s gumbo weather, too….


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