Due to an array of constraints–Bradley Ogden and Restaurant Guy Savoy are closed on Tuesdays and my mother’s show was at Caesar’s Palace–we were prodded into Mesa Grill’s direction. Going in to dinner, I could not help but hope that Ben Bernanke et al. would backstop our bill–as he did for Jamie Dimon when JP Morgan stepped in to rescue Bear Stearns–if the meal turned out to be “toxic.”
When walking into Mesa Grill, one is bombarded by the variegated interior–blues, greens, oranges, and reds. It seems like something straight out of a Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas acid trip. And yet, it makes sense, for once the food arrives, those same colors recrudesce in the form of blue corn meal, pea risotto, Ancho chili sauce, and assorted seafood.
While my mother decided to go with the prix fixe menu, I hopscotched over the appetizers, ordering two entrées instead.
At the risk of sounding querimonious, let me start with the dish’s deficiencies. First, as the picture can attest, it was oily. Second, I have heretofore never understood what people mean when they said that lobster can be chewy if poorly cooked. Just to cut through the tail meat required quite a bit of effort; not even Fletcherizing would have helped. Third, while the lobster claw provides a dramatic presentation, removing the meat meant that I would have to drench my fingers in the aforementioned oily liquid. Chief among the dish’s auspicious elements was the sinus-clearing broth. Coriander balanced the sweet scallop and mussels. Both the blue corn stick and the walnut and raisin-studded bread also served as a palate emollient.
This was a well-seasoned and balanced combination. The dry rub on the pork coupled with the ancho chili packed a peppery punch, leaving me no choice but to lunge my fork into the sweet potato tamale.