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Monday, April 14, 2008

Fuego review - 4/5/08

We've been going to Fuego since they opened a couple years ago and while we haven't done an exhaustive search, it's clearly the best Mexican in the Chicago suburbs we've encountered. The Chicago Tribune just gave them a positive review so I figured we should stop by at an off hour and accept that it'll be a place to avoid for at least a month or two.

We started with the Ceviche Jarocho – shrimp in an orange-lime marinade, plum tomatoes, green olives, jalapeno peppers, cilantro, and avocado.

I had the Filete Morita – beef tenderloin medallions in a chile Morita cream sauce, Chipotle mashed potatoes, and sauteed zucchini and peppers.

Fran had the Chuletas Oaxaca – pork chops in Mole Amarillo which is a fairly light sauce.

We've worked our way through the menu over the years and the only thing I encountered that was less than excellent was a very tough skirt steak. Other than that misstep, everything has been at least very good, if not fantastic – guacamole, chile rellenos, queso fundido, burritos, various specials, etc.

The drinks are good, though somewhat on the expensive side – I stick with the Michelada with Pacifico when I visit. We've tried various mojitos and margaritas and none have disappointed – the wine selection is somewhat small but they have some Mexican offerings which is always nice to see.

In full honesty, I do have some issues with the staff – I can't say we've ever had truly excellent service at Fuego. There's a certain very mild standoffish attitude with, to be honest, most of the servers we've had. It tends to take away from the experience, though is never bad enough to complain.. Simply put, the front of house does not live up to the very high quality kitchen.

Another related issue I have is that the guacamole is prepared tableside – I suppose it's a nice gimmick, but on a crowded evening having a giant cart wheeling around the restaurant – including the bar area – just seems like a bad idea. The people who prepare the guacamole tend not to be talkative or friendly, which makes me wonder why they have someone come out and make guacamole if they don't say a word to you the entire time? It seems that the point of this service is so they chat you up, ask you questions about how you'd like it prepared, yet this has never been the case.

In terms of food, Fuego is excellent – I think with a few more years of growth and fine tuning we actually may have a reasonable competitor to Frontera Grill here in the suburbs.

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