Monday, May 23, 2005

American Iron Chef Kicks Butt in Vegas

Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill Impresses and Delights

I must say I never really liked Bobby Flay all that much. Not that I knew him personally, but way back when he got started he had a show on FoodTV where he'd grill with a hillbilly, let's call him Billy. Bobby would treat Billy like trailer trash on national TV and and Billy, being the southern gentlemen he appeared to be would just take Bobby's crap. Whether Bobby Flay could grill or not, he certainly came off like a real jerk.

After seeing Bobby on Iron Chef America and watching his Vegas restaurant come to life on the Food Network I couldn't help but be impressed by what I saw. His culinary genius really seemed to come through in his recent work and I wanted to try everything I saw him prepare. A recent trip out to Vegas for a friend's bachelor party afforded me the very opportunity to see what Bobby Flay was up to. It's not all that often I get out to the desert and Bobby's other restaurants are way out in New York.

The restaurants atmosphere left nothing to chance, it was bold and dazzling from the get-go. The charming, futuristically-retro interior sported multi-colored stained glass "walls" facing the Caesar's sports book, a small bar and 4 or 5 small areas of dining tables surronding the giant copper rotisserie where Bobby brings so many of his creative entrees to life. The staff was attentive and knowledgable without being doting. When it came time to choose a beverage, not only did they agree with my wine choice but they assured me it would be wonderful with my entree -- and they were right. So enough, let's eat.

At first glance the menu doesn't seem all that lengthy, in fact you don't realize how daunting your choices are until you find that you want to order everything. I bought us some time with a quesadilla: Smoked Chicken + Black Bean with Avocado + Toasted Garlic Crème Fraiche and some Southwestern Fries. These 2 items we're a smash, even though the quesadilla was tough to split between 5 we really enjoyed it. The fries were fine, but if I want fried food I'll go elsewhere.

Go time. After serious discussion between the 5 of us I ordered the Pork, as did Sean. Lyle and Gordon each had the Tuna and Dale went with the Salmon. They were prepared as follows:

I apologize for the Camera Phone pix, they don't do the presentation or food justice.

The Pork

The pork was spectacular. The loin were cut into small rounds, cooked medium-rare and tender to the fork. Smoky, grilled, sweet, spicy, BBQey, buttery, succulent and almost chocolatey are adjectives that come to mind. I went with a spicy Sonoma Zinfandel to go with the pork which was (luckily) right-on. The Zin stood up to the spice like a champ. It goes to show, when in doubt, go with a good Zin. Don't skip the corn husk! The sweet potato tamale is perfect, rich corn embodies sweet potato and the occasional pecan crunch. Buttery sweet and blissful, you don't want to miss this tamale. I for one cannot wait to have this dish again, in fact I think I'll have to see if Bobby will give me the recipe.

The Tuna

The tuna was really good -- and I'm glad since I think I convinced a few folks it would be. The rich, buttery tuna steak comes alive beneath the Apricot-Mustard-Mint Glaze and the flavorful Couscous offered a welcome departure from the fish's rich texture. This was Tuna done right (and even rivals my favorite Sashimi at Sonny's).

I didn't try the Salmon nor did I get a shot of it (since it was pretty clear my camera-phone was sucking wind at this point). Dale swears it was great, it was gone faster than my pork and I must admit a little Jalapeño Crema on my Salmon sounds good right about now. Maybe next time, but there were some other "regrets" that I hope we can make room for at the table next time:

We didn't want to do it. We already overdid it the night before at Emeril's. We shouldn't have done it. We ordered dessert. Hey, we needed to have a little something with our coffee and Bobby was already batting a thousand, so why not? Why not is because the night before they had to roll us out of Emeril's Steak House after bread and potatoes and wine and ribeye steaks and crazy desserts with coconut chocolate and cream. Ugggggh.

So, we only got one dessert. One bite each we said. We arm wrestled for quite a while with the decision but concluded on a peach cobbler of sorts.

Peach pound-cake croutons, small scoops of peach ice-cream and a few blackberries all drizzled in warm caramel sauce. Sure, it sounds good but I didn't expect it to taste like peaches. Was I wrong, the ice cream must have been made fresh - outstanding. The pound cake croutons were rich and fruity, like a perfect peach without the pit. With a warm caramel sunset drowning the tall goblet of greatness, this dessert reminded me of summer and tasted no less sweet.

What's left to say? Mesa Grill exceeded my already inflated expectations. The food was great and we enjoyed chatting with the staff about their menu, Wine and Local events. Given its Las Vegas location where even Big Macs cost more, the prices were fair and the portions large enough to satisfy. I don't know when I'll be back to Sin City but when I am you can be sure the first reservation I'll make is Mesa Grill. Did somebody say Vegas?

Mesa Gill, Las Vegas

-Vince Eats

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Thank you, very interesting!
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