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How to Survive at Mesa Grill

lexismore Apr 10, 2012 01:40 PM

I don't think the food at Mesa Grill is very good. My boss does not share this opinion, so he generously treats me to dinner there once every week or two. He has no interest in trying new restaurants.

Since I have yet to some across any dish that is worth ordering repeatedly, I find myself in the unique position of being able to work through the menu. I have tried almost everything on it.

I hope this post can provide some guidance to any 'hound unfortunate enough to find him or herself eating at Mr. Flay's flagship restaurant.

One of the most important things to remember is, when you order a dish, ask if it comes with the special Bobby Flay sauce. Many of the dishes on the menu do. If so, ask for the sauce on the side. Now, I seldom ask for any kind of substitutions at restaurants, I'm a strong believer in leaving myself in the hands of the chef. The problem is, the proteins at Mesa grill tend to be of good quality, and cooked quite well. Then they're drowned in a cloyingly sweet semi-spicy Mexicanish barbecue candy sauce that completely masks the flavor.

Here are some of the better dishes I've had:

-Shrimp & Roasted Garlic Corn Tamale

Sweet and creamy. While a bit heavy, this is not a bad dish at all. And the usual barbecue sauce is absent, replaced with a creamy corn cilantro sauce.

-Mango & Spice Crusted Tuna Steak

A big hunk of tuna, cooked medium rare with a not-too-overwhelming spice rub. It comes with decent couscous.

-Chipotle Glazed Rib Eye, sauce on the side

This is a pretty nice boneless rib eye, and they cook it perfectly. It's quite flavorful, perhaps too much so (the sauces, not the meat).

-Sticky Toffee Pudding

This is a pretty straightforward, but pretty solid example of a sticky toffee pudding. Even though most of the savory dishes on the menu are too sweet, this dessert is not.

  1. t
    thegforceny Apr 10, 2012 01:43 PM

    How to Survive at Mesa Grill?

    Easy: Prickly Pear Margaritas.

    1. r
      RGR Apr 10, 2012 02:20 PM

      Haven't been to Mesa Grill since the mid-1990's. And then, it was just once for dinner (excellent) and once for brunch (meh).

      I'm a sticky toffee pudding fanatic, so I will have to try it there.

      I prefer lamb to steak. I see there's a lamb porterhouse chop on the dinner menu. Also, the chili relleno sounds good. It's stuffed with eggplant, which I love. Have you tried these?


      4 Replies
      1. re: RGR
        lexismore Apr 11, 2012 08:45 AM

        I'm not a sticky toffee pudding fanatic, but I do enjoy it. If you do try it, I'd be curious to know how it stacks up.

        The lamb is actually next on my list. I'll report back.

        1. re: lexismore
          RGR Apr 11, 2012 10:09 AM

          You'll probably get there before I do, so I look forward to hearing what you think of the lamb. And I'll definitely let you know about the sticky toffee pudding. But in case you want to try it elsewhere and make comparisons yourself, two places that have excellent versions are Blue Smoke and North End Grill.

          Photo of Sticky Toffee at Blue Smoke: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391@N03/6170274814/in/set-72157627598128859

          and at North End Grill: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391@N03/6794029215/in/set-72157629109653881


        2. re: RGR
          lexismore May 1, 2012 08:12 AM

          So, I tried the lamb.

          It's a good amount of lamb, and mine was cooked to a perfect medium rare. But there were two large problems with it. The first is, the lamb itself was pretty bland. The second is, it was smothered in thin slices of hot (I believe Serrano) peppers and mint. Unfortunately, it managed to be quite spicy but with very little flavor. Not a great combo, imho.

          1. re: lexismore
            RGR May 1, 2012 04:38 PM

            Thanks for coming back to report about the lamb, lexismore. What a shame!


        3. princeofpork3 Apr 11, 2012 07:13 AM

          Stick with the steak. Its a good cut of meat and doubtful they will screw it up.
          Of course, sauce on the side.

          1. j
            justme123 Apr 11, 2012 07:49 AM

            DH LOVES, I mean LOVES Mesa Grill. Me, not so much. I am so glad to know I am not the only one who is not a fan. We live in CT and he wanted to take a trip down to have dinner there one night. So far I have successfully talked him out of it. Thanks for your advice Lexi in the event I am over-ridden some day :) . And, yes- prickly pear margaritas will help!

            1. princeofpork3 Apr 11, 2012 08:24 AM

              Try some expensive Tequila.
              Cant you convince him to try one of Bobby's other places?

              5 Replies
              1. re: princeofpork3
                justme123 Apr 11, 2012 08:35 AM

                hmm...maybe. We had eaten at Bolo as well, but he liked Mesa better (go figure). How is Bar American?

                1. re: justme123
                  princeofpork3 Apr 11, 2012 08:53 AM

                  Average. You could always decline the invite. Bad dinner at a place you have been 20+ times is not necesary a treat or reward.

                  1. re: justme123
                    RGR Apr 11, 2012 10:01 AM


                    Bolo served Spanish-influenced cuisine, so very different from Mesa Grill's, I was sorry that Bolo closed as the food we had there was delicious. We had dinner at Bar Americain once. Horrible!


                    1. re: justme123
                      Cheeryvisage Apr 11, 2012 10:10 AM

                      Bar Americain is mediocre.

                    2. re: princeofpork3
                      lexismore Apr 11, 2012 08:59 AM

                      I do explore their tequila when I'm in the mood. Unfortunately, it's not my favorite hard liquor.

                      And no, he only goes to places he's already been to. It's quite the paradox. I could decline the invite. But I won't. Not a wise move for me job-wise.

                    3. sgordon Apr 11, 2012 10:30 AM

                      I don't think Mesa Grill is horrible. Do we have better in NYC? Of course. But for their price point, they're not bad. I do agree the ubiquitous sauce tends to be a bit cloying, though. He does gravitate towards sweet flavors quite often, in general.

                      I find Bar Americain far better, and were I to recommend a BF restaurant to anyone that'd be the one - the menu options are more varied, for one, and the price:value ratio is pretty decent. The portions a bit large, which is a rarity these days - probably why it appeals to tourists, who expect everything in NYC to be miniscule. But for the $$, you get a decent amount of well-enough-prepared (if not exactly creative) food. The kind of place you could just get apps and then split an entree between two people, and not leave feeling ripped off. I wouldn't recommend it to a local or a "foodie" though.

                      I was actually quite surprised one time visiting my folks (in Southeast CT, land of casinos) - we had dinner one night at the Foxwoods BA, and everything was excellent across the board. Don't know who's running the kitchen there, but they did a bang-up job that night.

                      Granted, it's been probably two years since I last foot in Mesa Grill, and BA I might only find myself in once a year or so, and never by my own choice. But I'm not opposed to it when it's suggested.

                      1. s
                        sushiman May 1, 2012 08:55 AM

                        Never thought it was good when it opened. Too much heat in the early days. You could not taste anything but heat.

                        Went recently with a friend that was curious after watching Flay on TV forever. The food is not just bland and uninteresting.

                        I never understood the big deal about this place.

                        1. f
                          FoodChickNYC Mar 14, 2013 05:51 AM

                          Ask to go for lunch and have the chicken and sweet potato hash. Also, they have burgers at lunch which are pretty good.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: FoodChickNYC
                            chervil9 Mar 14, 2013 06:23 AM

                            Bobby Flay's cooking and restaurants have always been mediocre. He has a lazy palette and does not know how to cook without honey. The only reason he is popular is because he is on TV, has a high powered pr machine and alot of woman find him attractive.

                            1. re: chervil9
                              foodiemom10583 Mar 14, 2013 11:01 AM

                              The last time I was in there was almost 16 years ago when I was 8 months pregnant. My tamale was meh. Husband's cornmeal-crusted soft-shell crab was eh.

                              What I remember the most was the "skanky ho"-stess who completely ogled my husband as we left, arm in arm. Yeah, pissing off the pregnant wife who makes the restaurant choices is never a good idea. I called them later and told them so.

                          2. melpy Mar 14, 2013 11:06 AM

                            Went once and had the whole fried fish, snapper maybe? I enjoyed it. Never gone back as there are other places I like better.

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