Mesa Grill layers on the flavor
Chef Bobby Flay knows a thing or two about cooking—he’s one of the most successful faces to grace the Food Network and has a boatload of restaurants to boot. In Las Vegas, his Mesa Grill has been open since 2004, serving up Southwestern-style cuisine.
The restaurant at Caesars Palace recently underwent an update to its menu, and the results are spectacular. In addition to his signature dishes, Flay introduced a focus on the flavors of Veracruz, Mexico, with seafood still a staple, and draws on some European spices, too.
Many of the dishes on Mesa Grill’s menu are vegetarian-friendly, such as the roasted corn soup. Smooth, creamy spoonfuls are accentuated by a lovely smoked chile crema and a smattering of blue corn tortilla chips.
Mesa spreads present a take on chips and salsa that is so much better. Thick, puffy masa triangles have a bit of crispiness on the exterior while the interior is softer, like a tamale—perfect with the crushed avocado relish (yes, it is a bit like guacamole) and cucumber-jicama relish. And the ricotta cheese with red chile pipián salsa, exceedingly flavorful with a bit of spice, will have you returning until every bite is gone.
The tostadas are created with that same masa, and the thick fried base is similar, crispier outside, tender inside. One of the varieties on the menu layers crusted avocado tostada with black beans and piquillo relish. A cumin crema is drizzled atop. The burrata tostada recreates a caprese salad, but in a very different way, with tiny tomatoes, basil and a tremendous dollop of ricotta accented with a tasty tomatillo sauce.
That layering of flavors and textures is a theme throughout the menu, sometimes more mellow and sometimes more evident. The roasted beet tamale showcases a brilliant pinkish red masa, which is flavored with beet. A mellow yellow beet salad, tangerine yogurt, sliced radish and goat cheese put this over the top.
Two entrées really demonstrate the layering effect. The cornmeal-crusted chile relleno, with porcini mushrooms, cotija cheese and sun-dried chile sauce, leaves you pleasantly sorting out those flavors in each bite. And the steamed halibut features a mild, tender piece of fish in a rich posole. The ancho chile posole is superb, washing over the tongue in waves of flavors, with the spicy aspect coming on last and making each spoonful so delightful.
Chocolate sticky toffee pudding, a cakelike confection, keeps the layering going, with Cocoa Rice Crispies decorating the top, Medjool dates adding richness, a compact little scoop of chocolate-vanilla ice cream to the side and cajeta, a goat’s milk caramel sauce covering it all. Try to get a bit of each element with every bite, and your meal’s ending will be heavenly.
Caesars Palace, 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri., brunch 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Sat.-Sun., dinner 5-11 p.m. daily. 702.731.7731