This post is part II of the larger series: Celebrity Chef Dining in Las Vegas. Other posts in this series include Part I: Mario Batali's B&B Ristorante.
Unlike many of the other Food Network celebrity chefs, Bobby Flay only has one restaurant in Vegas. That might be part of the reason why that restaurant is always SUPER crowded. It almost seems like it’s a given you have to wait if you don’t make a reservation.
Well, it does not hurt that this restaurant is in Caesar’s Palace, one of the most popular and crowded casinos, partly because it’s attached to the huge Forum Shops Shopping Plaza.
But that can’t just be it – Wolfgang Puck’s Spago (in the same complex) is not nearly as crowded. And even Rao’s is not crowded in quite the same hectic way.
Well, I don’t know the exact reason, but I can tell you that the food at Mesa Grill is amazing. Bobby Flay is truly a master of using interesting, bold flavors to spice up ordinary dishes. His dishes are nowhere ordinary, and everything has some creative kick to it. I love it.
This was my second time here, and Bryan’s third, so we tried to order some newer things, one of which became one of the best duck dishes Bryan has ever had in his entire life. I’ll let you know what you should order if it’s your first time there at the end of the post.
Bread is awesome – I love blue/yellow corn jalapeno muffins.
For starters, I ordered the salmon and tuna tartare. Served with fried blue corn and plantain chips, I thought the dish was pretty good, although not my favorite. I felt that it was a bit too sweet and spicy for me, although Bryan liked it (he can handle more heat than I can). The raw fish pieces were marinated in some sort of sweet and tangy dressing, and then each one was paired with a different chili sauce.
Bryan got the fried calamari, which was paired with an avocado chili sauce that was amazing! Definitely we both liked Bryan’s appetizer better than mine, even though mine was still pretty good.
Bryan got the ancho chili duck, which he thought was incredible. He said it was one of the most enjoyable duck dishes he's ever had. That’s saying a lot, considering he’s had the famous Peking Duck at Celestial in Taiwan, the signature “Duck for Two” at Salts, and the pressed duck with fois gras terrine at Daniel in NYC. The duck breast was juicy, flavorful, and paired immaculately with a sweet and spicy sauce that had hints of fruit and chili.
The duck came with a tamale filled with bacon - yum!
I ordered the "Tiger Shrimp and Roasted Garlic Corn Tamale" off of the appetizer menu as my entrée. The shrimp was perfectly cooked, and tasted delicious when combined with cornmeal of the tamale and the sweet, rich, and creamy corn sauce covering the entire dish. The tamale has a wonderfully strong sweet corn flavor. It’s definitely a rich dish, and is probably better shared as an appetizer!
We got a side of carrots, which was only OK. I’d order something else next time.
Dessert was freshly made cinnamon and anise churros dipped in dark chocolate. These were good, and the chocolate sauce was a fun touch. Compared to the monster-sized churros I like to get at Costco, these were more refined and had a lot more sugar on the outside. Honestly, I think I like the Costco ones better (shhhh!!!). These were still delicious though (especially after I brushed off about half of the excess sugar), and were immensely enjoyable with the dark chocolate sauce.
Over all, this place makes excellent Southwestern food with various creative kicks. If it’s your first time, you should order some of his signature dishes, which are all amazing. Definitely get the duck blue corn pancakes as an appetizer and the New Mexican rubbed pork tenderloin as an entrée.
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