Brunch at Mesa Grill

Last weekend, Shaun and I headed into Manhattan for an extra special Sunday brunch at Mesa Grill. Since Shaun's 2009 birthday dinner made my personal top ten best meals list, and subsequently lead to my early demise at 10PM that night, I had high hopes for this one. The outcome? It was nothing short of Southwestern deliciousness. Let's get down to the goods...

Any good brunch begins with a good bread basket and this one ranks supreme. Filled with coffee cake, moist blueberry scones and mini cheddar-jalapeno biscuits with red pepper jam, the bread basket was the perfect way to kick off our decadent meal and within minutes, I'm semi-ashamed to say, we had polished off most of its contents.

I should point out one of our favorite pieces, a blue corn muffin, made with real kernels of corn - the only way to do corn muffins in my opinion.

Though we easily consumed the entire basket of baked goods, we still deemed it necessary to also have an appetizer before the main attraction. With lots to choose from, we just couldn't pass up the Queso Fundido, a burning hot skillet of cheese and roasted peppers served with blue corn chips. We had sampled this during our last visit, and it was just as good as I've dreamed about ever since.

For my meal, I had poached eggs (something that is oh-so-hard to get right) over sweet potato and shredded chicken hash. It was enough to feed two, yet somehow I managed to put a good dent in it all by my lonesome. Perhaps it's my penchant for dipping or my childhood memories of my parents serving up birds' nests for breakfast, but there's nothing like a good, runny egg yolk.

My faith in Bobby Flay paid off and the poached eggs were perfectly cooked; the whites completely cooked while the yolk was completely runny with no hardened yolk to speak of, causing a veritable puddle of rich egg yolk over my sweet potato hash. Yum.

And though by this point we could scarcely move, I still found it necessary to hear the dessert specials of the day. Once the words pineapple upside down cake were uttered, I was smitten and convinced Shaun that it was in fact necessary to sample the goods. You know, for research purposes.

Encased in a layer of carmelized brown sugar and topped with pineapple ice cream and a slice of fresh pineapple, this dessert was no joke. Even Shaun had to admit that it was a good call. It also was the moment I was completely convinced that I must get myself the ice cream maker attachment for my stand mixer so that I too can come up with out of the ordinary ice cream concoctions.

So there you have it - a delectable roundup of our fancy Sunday brunch. Though I was on the verge of food coma for the rest of the day and it came with a heftier-than-usual price tag, Mesa was the perfect spot for a special Sunday brunch. And what I'd really love to know is, where is your favorite place for brunch?

Psst...for even more brunch fun, check out my roundups of B Bar, Elysian Cafe and Cercle Rouge!

Restaurant Roundup: Mesa Grill

What: Chef and Restauranteur Bobby Flay’s first restaurant, mixing Southwestern flavor, spicy spices, and lots of grilled meat.

Where: 102 Fifth Avenue
Why it Rocks:
Okay, perhaps this is a given New York must, but in all of my city years, I had never been to Mesa, or any of its counterparts, in any other locations in and outside of the country. This has been on my to do list for a looooong time. In a none-too-pretentious atmosphere, the décor was simple and the restaurant was fairly small, both huge pluses in my book. Reservations are recommended (via OpenTable) and we were sat only slightly later than our designated time. Be sure to arrive early for a drink at the super Southwestern chic bar. The food caused surge of new respect for Bobby Flay, whom I’ve always loved in my irrational Food Network obsession. Not sure if it’s the dorky Irish thing or his beyond gorgeous Brooklyn apartment, but Bobby Flay has that sort of geeky sexy thing going on, and his food is delicious to boot. Do NOT skip the Goat Cheese Queso Fundido with blue corn chips appetizer. The only downside is that it essentially diminished my palate for any other cheesy fundidos that I may have had in the past (my beloved Rosa Mexicano, this means you). For dinner, I had the Spice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin and hubby had the Sixteen Spice Duck Breast. Although I’m not by any means a duck-lover, both dishes were the best of their kind, but beware, the pork had a spicy kick. While there are no substitutions on the offered side dishes, if you ask nicely, they may oblige. Either way, the roasted corn is a must. The only downside was that we were both too stuffed to try the
 varied dessert options.
Gripes:
While very open and inviting, it is loud as the high ceilings just allow the noise the travel. Sit upstairs for a little less noise, but be prepared to speak loudly to hear your counterpart. Beware: Blink-and-you-miss-it restaurant entrance
Bottom Line:
I was skeptical that the hype would outdo the actual experience. Fear not, because Mesa delivers in taste like few others. 2 restaurant meals in my recent past stand out in the ‘best food I’ve ever had’ category. The first was a teeny, virtually unoccupied bistro in Budapest. For me, the second is Mesa Grill.
2 drinks a piece, 1 shared app, 2 delicious meals…
Total dinner price: Under $150