Frontenac Grill was the final project from restaurateur Mike ‘Talayna’ Failee, who passed away just before the restaurant opened last year. We visited recently to see if the eatery was a fitting legacy for his storied career and came away suitably impressed.
The dining room was quite spacious, with plenty of booth and table seating, and large, well-stocked bars on either side of the space. The decor was classic and understated, with plenty of large photos of Frank Sinatra (the restaurant was originally to be called Old Blue Eyes), giving the restaurant the feel of an upscale supper club or lounge. Plenty of windows kept the space filled with light and made for a delightful dinnertime ambiance.
We started with the Beef Carpaccio ($10), thin slices of tenderloin, similar in texture to prosciutto, served with mixed greens and capers, topped with a mild mustard aioli and pieces of crostini on the side. This was our idea of a perfect starter, just enough of a portion, and just savory enough, to whet the appetite without dulling it.
Next up we delved into the salads, with a dinner-sized House Salad ($4) and Caesar Salad ($5). The house salad proved to be one of our favorite salads in recent memory. It was a delicious mix of greens, cucumbers, red onions and pepperoncini, among other ingredients, topped with little ropes of provel. We were told the dressing was a secret recipe from Failee’s popular Talayna’s Italian Restaurant, and we’d love to see this slightly sweet, tangy Italian dressing on a store shelf! The Caesar was a solid, traditional take on the classic, and had some of the crunchiest, tastiest croutons we’ve had in a long while.
Frontenac Grill had a fairly diverse menu, including pizzas and steaks, but our attention was focused firmly on the pasta selections. The Lasagna ($14) was a real highlight, a delicious construction featuring layers of pasta, Italian sausage, housemade tomato sauce and a five-cheese blend, baked just right and served piping hot. Every component was prepared perfectly, especially the pasta, which was uniformly tender with no hard or crusty, burned spots. One of our new favorites! The Shrimp Orzo ($19) featured the namesake rice-shaped pasta with an amalgam of sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, pine nuts and feta in an extra-virgin olive oil sauce, along with plenty of plump shrimp.
For dessert, we went with one of our favorites, Creme Brulee ($7). While tasty, the sugar on top wasn’t caramelized enough to create the sweet crust we love so. It could’ve used a few more seconds under the torch to get that satisfying ‘pop’ when the fork breaks through the top.
In addition to dinner, Frontenac Grill also offers a lunch menu, happy hour, carryout and live music, making it a lot more than just a ‘grill.’ We found Frontenac Grill to be an eminently fitting memorial to a man who was such an important part of the St. Louis dining scene for so long.
Frontenac Grill, 731 S. Lindbergh Blvd., 569-4105, frontenacgrill.com