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Mesa Grill


jpk8216
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  • 2 weeks later...

I went last week as part of my whirlwind tour of New York restaurants. The best I can say is that it was OK. If that sounds like damning it with faint praise it is. There wasn't anything BAD, but there was too little good.

Despite the so-so things I have heard about it int he past, I was actually quite excited to go there after reading the menu which sounds very good. Unfortunatley, it was a case of things reading better on the menu that they taste on the plate. For a style of cooking that has the potential to be so flavorful, I was disppointed that the cooking was a little dull.

There were some high points - the goat cheese queso fundido was good and the spice rubbed Pork Tenderloin was cooked perfectly. But the crab cake was alittle heavy on filler and light on good crab (I am a little spoiled on this being from the DC area) and the desserts seemed like an afterthought.

Overall, it wouldn't have been a disappointment for a regular night out, but given the cost (about 175 for two with margaritas and beer) and the other places we went - among them Grammercy Tavern, Craft, Tabla Bread Bar, Blue Smoke and most of all Babbo, it was the least memorable of the bunch.

Bill Russell

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  • 1 year later...

OK I've read numerous opinions of Bobby Flay on eGullet, but here's how Vicky and my night was at Mesa Grill...

Vicky and I decided to spend the weekend in NY as it was our 2nd anniversary on the 12th. One of our anniversary presents being tickets to "Stomp", I made reservations at Mesa Grill for 10pm, unfortunately the show ended earlier than expected, and Vicky and I walked quicker than we should have and arrived at the restaurant at 9.30pm. Taking a seat at the bar, we ordered drinks a Mojito for me and a Prickly Pear Margarita for V .... WOW both were really good, tasty and expensive - one round was about $30 :wacko: . Anyway, we were promptly seated at 10pm and were lucky enough to get an upstairs table overlooking the lower floor and kitchen - hey I like watching a restaurant kitchen work. I'm going to be honest, I don't believe in the "red wine/red meat", "white wine/white meat" adage so feeling in the mood for white we ordered a bottle of Cru 22 chardonnay (2001) @ $36. I'm going to be totally honest, this was one of the better US chardonnays I've had ... a very nice buttery taste and very mellow - mental note: find out where I can buy more and cellar it for another couple of years :biggrin:

After staring at the menu for what seemed an eternity, Vicky decided on the Goat Cheese Queso Fundido and I on Flay's signature dish the Duck Pancake ... where do I go from here. Both of these were absolutely awesome. The Queso Fundido, served with blue corn chips, was amazing. I'm not a huge cheese fan but I almost wanted to order another serve of this ... hot melted goat cheese, salty, smooth, and the crunch of the corn chips was outstanding (notice I actually got to have some of Vicky's app :biggrin: ). I can see why the pancake (read crepe) is Flay's signature dish, all the flavours melded together perfectly. The sweetness of a hoison like sauce with the duck and the heat from the habanero sauce, my only complaint was that it was only 1 pissant pancake - c'mon if I'm paying ya freakin' $14 give me too of the tasty little suckers!!! (NOTE I didn't give Vicky a look-in with trying mine) Entree's were alot easier to pick. Both of us had been in a serious red meat mood all day, Vicky decided on the "Spice Crusted NY Strip Steak with House-Made MESA Steak Sauce + a Double-Baked Potatowith Horseradish, Green Onions + CrÈme Fraiche" and I on the "Pan Roasted Venison with Crushed Blackberry-Red Chile Vinegar Sauce & Roasted Poblano Pudding Tart". I'm beginning to think I got seriously screwed on my choice here and it wasn't by Bobby Flay :biggrin: I'd had 3 bites of my venison when Vicky announced the steak was a little too spicy for her, easy fixed being a steak eater we swapped entrees :biggrin: . I have no idea where my wife was coming from because the steak wasn't spicy at all (maybe that's just me), but damn it was good - my actual thoughts are she just changed her mind and wanted my freakin' venison :sad: In all honesty both of these dishes were fantastic, cooked to the EXACT degree we wanted - rare, perfect melding of flavours and very decent sides. I'm sorry to say both of us were too full to even look at dessert, that's going to be a next time deal, and after watching some of them go to other tables, I'm definitely leaving room :biggrin: .

Total price $200 including tax and tip (and drinks at the bar)

.

I want food and I want it now

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Great review, thanks.. I tried to go to the Mesa Grill in Vegas when it first opened up about a month ago and it was mobed. The hostess wasnt even excepting bribes that night. :biggrin: Whats the bar scene like, could i go and have dinner there on a random week night? I see a goat cheese queso fundido in my near future..

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Unfortunately I don't know about week nights BUT Saturday night the bar was packed, probably about 3 deep, but it did clear out pretty quickly as people were seated.

Great review, thanks.. I tried to go to the Mesa Grill in Vegas when it first opened up about a month ago and it was mobed. The hostess wasnt even excepting bribes that night.  :biggrin:  Whats the bar scene like, could i go and have dinner there on a random week night? I see a goat cheese queso fundido in my near future..

I want food and I want it now

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I ate at Mesa grill in Vegas last week. Just by chance, I was walking past and my GF pointed out Bobby Flay standing outside watching the NCAA Men's final. I said what the heck, lets eat here. Had to wait about 1 hour, but it was well worth it. We had the chicken tacos with caramelized onions, mint, cilantro, grilled tortillas and peanut sauce along with the cotja crusted quesidilla. Both fantastic! For our entrees, she had the Sixteen spice chicken and I had the Coffe spiced rubbed rotisserie filet mignon with wild mushroom anco chile sauce and horseradish potato gratin, cooked rare.

Let me tell you, I was not expecting to come away from the whole meal that excited, but in all reality it was one of the best dinners I've had in a long time. I will definately be checking out Mesa NYC now. Dollar for dollar it was a better dinner than the one I had at Le Cirque the next night.

Edited by bbq chef (log)

Barnstormer BBQ

Rt. 9W

Fort Montgomery NY

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I've avoided Mesa Grill for years because of my distaste of Flay's TV personality. On Weds, we ate at the bar. Food was very good, margarita's were excellent, especially the pear margarita. Cornmeal encrusted oysters with mango-jalopeno sauce were delicious. The best was the pulled duck and Stinger's right, only a small tortilla was chinsey. We had 5 apps, 4 margaritas, 3 gin & tonics and 3 glasses of wine ( Bartender bought us a round ) for only $140. A great deal. I'm actually lokking forward to going back or hitting his new place.

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What's interesting is that many people don't like Flay's personality, but love his food. Maybe some don't like him because of his success (though not everything he's done has been a winner). However, his 2 NYC restaurants have been going strong for over 10 years - he basically reinvented Bolo after it stagnated, and got himself 3 stars in the Times. I think we can credit him with the margarita/tequila craze, and at Mesa, they sure know how to mix a great margarita.

First reports that I've heard about Bar Americain are that the room is really great, and while there are some kinks to be worked out in the dining room, the food is pretty damn good too. And it sounds like Vegas is good too, though on my last trip it was just opening and we didn't get to eat there.

So, I'll put aside all the issues people have, and say congrats to a pretty damn good real NY chef.

And, as Lreda mentioned, the bartenders know what they're doing - not many places buy you a round even after you've bought 3 or 4 yourself!

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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What's interesting is that many people don't like Flay's personality, but love his food....

I hear this so much about people not liking Bobby Flay on eGullet, but not elsewhere. Honestly, I'm at a loss to understand it. I don't find him offensive. I used to watch him on FN often, and I never noticed arrogance (except maybe towards his ex-wife, on the grilling show, and that did not sit well with me.) It could be that I remember him when he was doing spots on daytime TV programs and seemed nervous and unsure. Regardless, I like him and I like Mesa Grill. He seems to me like any hometown person. ( :hmmm: maybe that's it. People also think New Yorkers are rude, and you know what they say about not being able to smell anything bad in your own home. :wink: )

Emma Peel

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So last nights plan was, start at Mesa Grill for appetizers and head to Bar Americain for dinner.. Our Bobby Flay Crawl started because we were both in the area of Mesa Grill early and were only able to get a 9 o'clock at Bar AmericainI. We showed up at Mesa Grill and had a couple of the Pear Margiratas.. They were really unimpressive.. The tasted nothing like Pear and they were two dollars more then there regular Margarita, which happens to be fantastic..

After looking over all the appetizer options, all of which looked really good, we went for the duck pancakes, the goat cheese queso fundido, and the oysters. The duck pancakes were ok.. It was shredded duck served in a rich thick ancho or some type of chile sauce. It was certainly prepared well and was tastey, however it was predictable and boring. The queso fundido was really good.. It was served with four goat cheese buttons. So at like 2.25 a button retail, i could see some of the cost that went into this 14-15 dollar dish. But again, there werent any surprises.. I could have been wowed with some chorizo or more peppers or something else.. . Then we had the oysters.. This was the most attractive dish.. Served on a long plate where the oysters were fried and then placed back in the shell resting on top of a mango salsa. The salsa was boring. It wasnt spicy, it wasnt sweet. Oysters were fried perfectly. And we got six oysters, justifying the cost around 14-15 bucks.

Overall, i was really unimpressed. The place was expensive. Not to the point of it being a rip-off because the ingrediants appeared to be expensive. But it seemed that the only reason the place was good was due to the ingrediants. I mean if someone serves four buttons of goat cheese with some chips, is it going to be bad? Is this what you expect from one of the "best chefs in new york", no way. !I wouldnt say there is really any "magic" happening there.. If i want mexican food like this would i go to Zarella's first.. Most definately.

Again, i only ordered apps and it looks like the dinners are rather exciting.. I wanted to try the rabbit, or the venison. So, i might go back, but i am in no hurry.

In terms of Bar Americain, we ended up doing a bar crawl instead of our Flay Crawl..

EDIT: GEEZE, SORRY FOR THE CONFUSION.. DIDNT MEAN TO POST THIS HERE..

Edited by Daniel (log)
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  • 2 years later...

Had dinner there last night with two friends. Pretty good, but a little bit of a mixed bag. Three apps: chopped salad (did not taste like much), fried green tomato topped with crab (excellent and probably the lighest fried green tomato I have ever had) and a duck filled soft tortia (good). Three mains: fried softshelled crabs (excellent, well made and very good flavor in the crabs), grouper (fine, but not very interesting) and twelve spice chicken (fine, but not that interesting, served with a very good tamale). Two excellent additional sides, roast corn with lime and caulfflower baked with a sharp blue cheese. Two excellent desserts, coconut cake and white peach shortcake (excellent and light biscut). Nothing was bad, at worst, not interesting. They have a light touch, from the soft shell cracb to the tamale to the desserts, everything was lighter than I would have expected.

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In flavor, seasoning?

I'm partial to Grouper, from my Florida trips, and this grouper was very mild, and didn't taste like much (it said Florida grouper on the menu). The salad really didn't taste like much, the Romane had little flavor and the dressing seemed to be missing something.

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I don't know, I used to eat there quite a bit between '94 and '98, 2K, as well as Bolo, and I never thought anything was that wistful.

But then again, I rarely eat salad out or fish.

Maybe the grouper was farm raised?

What are some of your favorite restaurants?

Maybe that would give us an idea of what you consider the standard to bear?

2317/5000

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I don't know, I used to eat there quite a bit between '94 and '98, 2K, as well as Bolo, and I never thought anything was that wistful.

But then again, I rarely eat salad out or fish.

Maybe the grouper was farm raised?

What are some of your favorite restaurants?

Maybe that would give us an idea of what you consider the standard to bear?

Bouley and Danube.

Bouley Upstairs.

Perry Street

Jean Geogres

Sugiyama

There was nothing offensive about the fish or salad at Mesa Grill. Some people might have liked the fish. The salad was hard to like I think for anyone.

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With all due respect to Mr. Flay., I don't think even he would argue that the restaurants you just listed and the 'Grill are on the same wave length.

C'mon...

Edited by tan319 (log)

2317/5000

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With all due respect to Mr. Flay., I don't think even he would argue that the restaurants you just listed and the 'Grill are on the same wave length.

C'mon...

Mesa Grill has two stars from the NYT, so does Bouley Upstairs. Better call the Times, they got the wrong wavelength again. The other places have three stars. But you are not asking the question of what I think are comprable restaurants to Mesa Grill, you aksed for ones that I like, to establish a frame of reference.

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With all due respect to Mr. Flay., I don't think even he would argue that the restaurants you just listed and the 'Grill are on the same wave length.

C'mon...

Mesa Grill has two stars from the NYT, so does Bouley Upstairs. Better call the Times, they got the wrong wavelength again. The other places have three stars. But you are not asking the question of what I think are comprable restaurants to Mesa Grill, you aksed for ones that I like, to establish a frame of reference.

how long ago did Mesa Grill get two stars? ten years? maybe more?

nuff said.

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With all due respect to Mr. Flay., I don't think even he would argue that the restaurants you just listed and the 'Grill are on the same wave length.

C'mon...

Mesa Grill has two stars from the NYT, so does Bouley Upstairs. Better call the Times, they got the wrong wavelength again. The other places have three stars. But you are not asking the question of what I think are comprable restaurants to Mesa Grill, you aksed for ones that I like, to establish a frame of reference.

I don't think so....

I worked at a Latin NYT two star ( was on the team that got them) and while I thought a lot of our food was sublime, exquisite even, it still didn't compare to your list.

My chef/owner would have agreed with me.

We got two stars because we were great at what we did, no one else was really doing it, it was a sexy, fun place to go.

We were 'bringin sexy back!

Mesa probably got reviewed by Riechel, maybe Grimes, in the heat of the Bobby Flay fervor.

He's a solid guy, a great chef, I think he deserves 2 stars in providing his clients with a good atmosphere, dependable and above average on most counts food & drink.

Edited by tan319 (log)

2317/5000

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Mesa Grill got reviewed by Brian Miller in 1991 and Grimes in 2000, garnering 2 stars each time. Reichl gave 2 stars to the short-lived spinoff, Mesa City, in 1997.

I've expressed the opinion a couple times that more recent reviews hold restaurants to higher standards than older reviews by the NY Times critics, as evidenced by the fact that the relative frequency of ratings given out hasn't changed much over the years, even though arguably the numbers of ambitious restaurants, and hence the average quality, has gone up.

The other thing is that the Times used to have a statute of limitations on ratings, which was somewhat variable, but was 5 years-ish. From that standpoint, Mesa Grill's rating might be considered too old to be of use.

Edited by Leonard Kim (log)
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