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Jan 23, 2008 12:24 PM

Bruni Has His Say About Mesa Grill [moved from Manhattan board]

Bruni gives Mesa Grill 1 star but the review was pretty scathing. I agree with just about everything he says and I've often contended that the food is no longer innovative or exciting and that the flavors can be found at many chain restaurants and Bruni seems to agree as exemplified by this passage, "At the same time the margin for clumsiness at Mesa Grill is narrower than ever. The restaurant can no longer lean on novelty; its Southwestern swirl of peppery rubs and smoky glazes, of tropical sweetness and desert fire, has been popularized to the point of cliché. It informed the menus of Chi-Chi’s, Chili’s and Chipotle."

Here is a link to the whole review.

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  1. If Mesa is serving dessicated poultry in its tacos, that's bad. But assessing restaurants for "novelty," as if they're the latest Doctor Frankenstein Paris Fashion Shows ... also bad..

    1 Reply
    1. re: mpalmer6c

      I don't see why a comment on novelty or creativity is out of bounds.

      If I go to a premium steakhouse or high-end traditional French bistro and pay out the nose for a dish that's on the menu at 1,000 restaurants in this country, I damn well expect that the food and everything else is going to perfect. Heck, that's the whole reason $200 / person steakhouses exist. Their menu is the same as Outbacks ...

      Fifteen years ago Mesa's menu was risky and quite different from what else was available. That to me at least justifies a certain amount of leeway in assesing the success of each dish.

      I thought Bruni did a nice job of fairly critiquing Mesa while at the same time recognizing that part of its challenge is how pervasive its influence has been.

    2. I've always believed Mesa was overrated and their service terrible. This confirms I'm not alone. How many times can you hear about Flay using blue corn or chipotles?

      1 Reply
      1. NY Magazine reports that the GM at Mesa has been fired, possible fall-out as a result of the 1 star review in the Times.

        1. I find it interesting how some chefs ride the wave of fame and fortune as the grand master of that style, while others, once they become widely immitated, are classified as "cliche." Seems to be what Bruni is trying to dump on Flay. Or maybe it's just because Flay hasn't gotten fat and gray. It's still a crime to be successful and look youthful in some circles.

          I've never been a huge Flay fan. I haven't handled spicey hot (picante) foods well ever since I unwitting cauterized my taste buds with a "lady finger" chile in Turkey. Killers! But there is no denying that Flay has put chipotle on the map! I'm just not sure that any man, whether it be Flay or Lagasse or Puck, can find enough hours in a day to keep up with how well the kitchens are running in a string of his name-beareing restaurants, star in a passle of TV shows, write a myriad of cookbooks, and meet a schedule of personal appearances that should reasonably require cloning. But it's a wave that anyone in their right mind would do their damndest to ride. I just don't think it's possible to ride it to absolute perfection. Everyone deserves a little mediocrity allowance.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Caroline1

            Now don't get me wrong, I think everyone deserves a break.........But who says he has to do all that stuff? Appearances, tv, restaurants, cookbooks (Although I guarantee he is not the one writing the recipes. I know from experience). Food network, PR and marketing aside, he is in charge of himself. No doubt doing all this is making him an absolutely boatload, and I can't blame him for cashing in. This is the trade off, he's made himself a lot of money as a public figure who is instructing others on how to cook and eat. He has (or at least the food network has) made himself a brand, brand Bobby Flay. Anyone in this position is up for severe scrutiny, and they are fools if they even let one aspect of this brand (restaurants in this case) slide into mediocrity. He can get people for that, right?

            1. re: charlottecooks

              "Anyone in this position is up for severe scrutiny, and they are fools if they even let one aspect of this brand (restaurants in this case) slide into mediocrity. He can get people for that, right?" charlottecooks

              Apparently he thought he had. If what I read is accurate, he has also releaved that person of the slacked responsibility.