Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Brunch Bug

I think I caught the brunch bug, because I've gone the last 3 weekends. I've always loved brunch, but sometimes its hard to get motivated and go out. This Sunday, I went to Mesa Grill with my friend Dana. Mesa Grill is part of the Bobby Flay empire. There are three Mesa Grill locations including the one in New York on 5th Avenue (and 16th St.). The other Mesa Grill locations are in Las Vegas and the Bahamas. The Iron Chef also has a chain of burger joints (Bobby's Burger Palace) and steakhouses (Bobby Flay Steak), Bar Americain is also among the Flay empire.

Bobby Flay is known for his spice combinations, so I've been wanting to go to Mesa Grill for quite sometime. Mesa Grill opened in 1991 with the idea of marrying the flavors of the southwest with Bobby's love of grilling. Grilling and spicy food, bring it on Bobby!

I wasn't in love with the space that Mesa Grill occupied, but I liked the decor. The New York Times described the atmosphere as "a Southwestern fiesta on two levels, with splashes of red, green, orange; cowboy motifs; and an extra-long bar; and a partially open kitchen." The service was a bit unusual. I felt like we were being rushed, but yet it took forever to get our food. We had two servers who took turns trying to take our order. Having two servers isn't a good idea, especially when they don't communicate between each other. Guest could feel confused and overwhelmed--and rushed when they keep coming back.

Every table gets a basket of muffins in leu of bread. The assortment of muffins was paired with an orange marmalade that had a distinct spiciness. We started with the bacon and hash brown quesadilla ($11). This was a great way starter, especially for brunch, because it fulfilled my breakfast craving allowing me to get lunch for my entree. The bacon and hash brown quesadilla came with a fried egg on top of it which allowed for dunking the quesadilla into the runny egg yolk! The quesadilla also came with a spicy tomato salsa which added another component to the already delicious dish.

Our entrees must have gotten lost, because they took forever. We sat at 1:30 and it was 3:00 and our entrees hadn't hit the table. Our server brought over a complimentary dish to compensate for the wait. They brought out the rough cut tuna nachos with mango-habanero hot sauce and avocado crema ($11). This dish made me forget the wait, so good recovery Mesa Grill. The tuna was fresh and flavorful and paired well with the mango-habanero hot sauce and avocado crema. Dana, who doesn't like raw fish, even enjoyed the dish. Our entrees hit the table alittle after 3, which gave me around 10 minutes to eat. I had work at 3:30, so I was in a race against time.

Dana got the Mesa Burger ($15) while I opted to get the pork sandwich ($14). I didn't try the burger, but Dana seemed to enjoy it. Bobby is known for his burgers, so I could see the massive burger being awesome. The pressed pork sandwich came with grilled red onion, arugula, ancho mayonnaise, and southwestern fries. The pork was well cooked and packed some great flavor. It was a simple sandwich, but it was done right. The fries were good!

Only being able to eat half our entree, we packed up our food and headed out. I thought Mesa Grill did a good brunch despite their timing problems and somewhat clumsy service. "Just keep your head down and don't stop eating", says NY Magazine.

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