There’s little to be found here in the way of Hollywood glamour, gaudiness, or sickeningly supersize portions. That’s not to say you leave underwhelmed or on an empty stomach, nor in search of better beer or a superior serving of ribs. This is the home of a low-key but truly homely and satisfying trans-Atlantic dining experience.
If you are in search of an enclave of stereotypical American glitz, head for the star-spangled toilets, where the iconic red-and-white-striped pattern of the United States standard stands in stark contrast to the rather-more-muted dining area. There, the wall hangings consist largely of chalked menus detailing the food selection and impressive array of real ales available.
While the interior may not scream typical Stateside diner, the forthcoming and friendly staff coupled with generous helpings of all-American favourites such as burgers, milkshakes, meats, and chicken wings ooze US-style comfort and reassurance. The Rolling Stones headline the in-house playlist and service is delivered swiftly and with a smile.
Half a dozen American craft beers of varying status – some mainstream, some less well-known – adorn an impressive beer board. The Founders All Day IPA, a fine session ale, comes highly recommended and, as it transpires, accompanies those oh-so-tasty ribs to perfection.
The non-alcoholic drinks range includes a classic American milkshake, made up of ice cream and milk as standard but available – for those who perhaps prefer a less bulky liquid accompaniment – with just milk or with only a dollop of ice cream. Either way, the strawberry flavour is guaranteed to please.
As a starter, deep fried stuffed jalapenos, coated in sour cream cheese and encased in a tempura-style batter, make for a fine opener. Don’t be scared to order a whole portion for yourself, as the four little taste sensations are ample but insufficient to have you stuffed before you’ve reached the main course.
Flavoursome fries headline almost any choice of main, but those particularly potatoey strips are somewhat let down by a slightly-too-dry chicken burger with chipotle and avocado. More sauce may be required here and is readily available on request.
There was no such need for the succulent chargrilled baby back ribs to be boosted by the presence of the heavenly handcut skin-on fries. Being served such a generous amount of glazed meat that simply slipped off the bone would have been perfectly acceptable, with the rosemary coleslaw and maple baked beans (similar to refried beans, but tastier) contributing even more colour to an already flavoursome course.
Surely it is impossible to embrace American cuisine without finishing with apple pie. It was something of a surprise to see it arrive at the table not topped with a shortcrust lid but sprinkled with crumble, but the combination of slightly-acidic apple and maple sauce with ice cream more than compensated for the initial disconcertment.
I’m excited at the prospect that Frontier can deliver, courtesy of Deliveroo, their tasty treats straight to my home. However, given the service and homeliness of the restaurant, my first in-house visit is likely to be far from my final Frontier experience.
Frontier, 8 Gillespie Place, Edinburgh, 0131 228 1145
Words: Alex Schweitzer-Thompson