Monday, May 19, 2008

Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill

My annual pilgrimage to Vegas is over. Anticipated for months, and over in a flash. While most of my days and nights are spent playing in a pool tournament, any free time is usually consumed with eating and drinking....the highlight on this trip was the Mesa Grill in Caesar's Palace. We had planned to spend it with friends, but could never figure out a time when everybody was not required to be on the pool table.

Tall guy and I had no reservations and decided to take a chance anyways. I told him that I would be taking pictures, and luckily, it doesn't seem to faze him at all anymore. Admittedly, since this would be embarrassing to the average dining partner, I promised to be quick and discreet, which is why I used no flash and the pics turned out a little blurry. So when we got there, the hostess told us that the dress code was "no hats" unless you want to eat at the bar. We opted for the bar. This turned out to be a great choice because the service was attentive and friendly, and we got to watch the mixologists at work. We never mustered up the courage to order a $15 prickly pear margarita, although they looked heavenly.

It was Saturday at 1:00 pm and it turned out that we had to choose from the brunch menu. Fine by me, since a hearty breakfast and a bloody mary would be a perfect first meal of the day. You heard that right. While on vacation without children, it is mandatory to stay up until 4 am and sleep until least that is my rule of thumb.

Anyways, everything on the menu is inspired by Southwestern flavors, if you couldn't guess. Our meal started off with a delightful complimentary bread basket consisting of tiny Jalapeno Cheese Biscuits, a Yellow and Blue Corn Muffin and Coffee Cake with Blueberries and Pecans. We loved everything here...the muffin was moist and perfectly sweetened by the fresh corn kernels. The biscuit was fluffy and still warm with a lovely pepper kick. Coffee cake? Yum!

Next up - an appetizer called Goat Cheese "Queso Fundido" (12) with Rajas and served with blue corn chips. This was so gooey and rich, but oh, so good. It seems the goat cheese was mixed with jack cheese and other spices and baked to bubbly perfection. By the time we (almost) polished this off, I was actually pretty full. But wait, there's more.

We decided to share our entrees, and this one was the star for both of us. It's one of Flay's signature dishes. The menu read like this exactly: "spicy chicken + sweet potato hash + poached eggs + green chile hollandaise". (18) Everything on the menu was like that, with a lot of plus signs. I would have given it some cute name like "fiery hash benedict" or "benedicto diablo". The flavors were very diverse, with the sweet creamy potatoes mixed in with the spicy chicken and chiles.....when eaten together with the over-easy egg and hollandaise, it made for rich and satisfying burst of flavors. However, my one problem with the dish was that it may have been a tad too spicy for me, and after a few bites, it was hard to taste anything but heat.

Tall guy ordered "new mexican spiced pork tenderloin sandwich + grilled red onion, arugula, and ancho chile mayonnaise + southwestern fries" (15) Bartender warned us that the pork was cooked medium and that it had some pink. We agreed to the terms. The foccacia bread was too crunchy, and while the pork was so extremely tender and delicate, the sandwich lacked a depth of flavor that we were expecting. As Randy Jackson would say, "Dog, it was just alright for me"

Overall, I was pleased with my visit to Mesa's huge windows overlook the gigantic sports book, and it just happened to be the day of the Preakness horse race, so the buzz and energy outside the restaurant was fun to watch. The service was great at the bar. Next time, I would like to go for dinner.......then again, there is so much competition for fine dining in Vegas that it seems like a crime to go to the same place twice. At least I have a year to think about it.

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