What a shame!
I have no intention of defending Rick Bayless, as I haven't seen him 20 years and have not spoken to him in almost 10. However, I can say with certainty that when I worked for him, he walked the walk.
Bayless was the head chef at a "California Cuisine" type restaurant in Orange County, CA and everything was made from scratch, including ice cream and sausage. He and his wife, Deann, a desert and pastry whiz, demanded excellent, but at the same time they were the most upbeat and pleasant people.
No doubt, Rick is not doing the cooking at either place, with two restaurants to run and all the tv shows, and various product endorsements.
His food, BTW is not the typical Mex/Tex or even the burrito/taco Mexican food most gringos associate with the cuisine.
Originally Posted by aybojs
Not to be that guy, but I have to say they're the most spectacularly overrated restaurants in Chicago. I dined at both places at different occasions, and while the service was excellent, the food was terribly bland and boring, and the portion size was pathetic. My one time at Frontera, I ended up dropping $25 on what turned out to be a plate of 4-5 shrimp in some watery tomato based sauce on a top of a pile of shredded cabbage that was more garnish than edible vegetables. My friends ordered some taco al carbons that were decent, but tiny, and about the same quality as any of the fajita tacos I could get here in Houston at a dozen or so cheap Tex-Mex places within several blocks of my place. I forget what I had at Topalobampo, but again, I paid out the ass for a tiny and uninspired platter that would have been outdone at a third of the price by nearly any place I could go to locally at home. Absolute rip-off both times; people clearly go here because of the Bayless hype and to be seen (granted the bar at Frontera is at least nicely set up).
I've lived in Texas 10+ years, California 5, and have been to Mexico , and I can say that comparing the food they serve to any legitimate Mexican (or quasi-Mexican) style is a joke.