Monday, May 16, 2011

First Look/Restaurant Review: Mesa

I usually have a deluge of emails in my inbox each morning, which I diligently skim to let you know all the best deals, steals, and you know the rest. Then there are the emails that come in later in the day that I might take a little more time to read, and I’m glad I did just that on Friday, as I found out about the soft opening for Mesa. The official opening party is on Wednesday, and it’s worth the trip to the OC.

The location, on Jefferson, makes you double check to make sure you locked your car, but once you’re inside the nicely appointed space, you completely forget where you are. There are few tables, so be glad when you snag one. The dark brown chairs and banquettes coordinate nicely with the orange accent wall and orange bottles of water placed on your table.

Sig-O and I were warmly greeted by the hostess and the chef owner, who continued to check on us throughout the evening. The service was prompt and friendly, letting us know that they weren’t serving their signature cocktails yet, but the bar was a still available. Their cocktail list is impressive, involving a number of house made ingredients that made us want to return to enjoy the bar. After taking our drink order, the server told us that he’d bring out the Surtido Veracruzano , an assortment of appetizers, so we could try a number of things, as well as their ceviche. The plate includes enmoladas, enfrijoladas, platanos fritos, picada and an empanada. The empanada was the standout appetizer, but I’d certainly recommend getting the sampler plate so you can try things on your own. But the ceviche, with house-made tortilla chips really stole the show. The bright flavors seemed to dance in your mouth. I even bargained with the Sig-O to make sure I could have a little extra ceviche.

After the large appetizer we had, Sig-O and I decided to split the Camarones Enchipotlados. Described as whole Galveston shrimp sautéed in chipotle sauce and served with jasmine rice, we found that we had chosen wisely again. The smokiness of the chipotle sauce married well with the tender shrimp. The side of sautéed vegetables included onion, zucchini and corn. Our charming server also brought out some fresh tortillas, which were wonderful. Since we were splitting, I’m sure that bringing three tortillas would have been perfect for one person, but a restaurant pet peeve of mine would be those that bring an odd number of tortillas to a couple. It would just be nice to have them throw in an extra tortilla. Not as much a complaint about Mesa, but just a restaurant comment. You know, it would just help avoid that awkward, “oh, I took the last one, is that ok?” moment.

Since Sig-O and I had split our entrée, and they had two desserts available that night, we opted to try each. The first was Arroz con Leche. It was wonderful, just the right amount of sweetness with the texture of the rice. But the winner for the entire night was the flan. Sig-O isn’t even a fan of flan, yet the plate kept going that direction. I don’t want to sound crass, but this dessert was like sex on a spoon. It was fantastic. With a creamy texture, rich mouth feel and a touch of orange flavor, this will most certainly be on my must have list.

On another note, Mesa has done a very good job of indicating gluten-free and vegetarian options on their menu. It’s always nice to see the attention to detail. I’m so glad that we got to go to Mesa before the crush that will undoubtedly ensue. I’d recommend heading over there ASAP so you can enjoy it too. Check out their site here and make your reservation!

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