Friday, January 13, 2006

Eating Las Vegas: Part Three, Day Four

So why do I skip from day two to day four? Well, day three was spent on a 17-hour bus extravaganza to the Grand Canyon, and lunch consisted of a buffet somewhere in West Bumblefuck, Arizona, and dinner was a sandwich from a Subway in Kingman. Nothing worth writing about.

Day four, however, was my birthday. Our plans consisted of wandering through more casinos, souvenir shopping, and dinner at Mesa Grill. But first, lunch.

My Dad had been all excited about a pastrami sandwich he ate in a chain deli called Jason's. He rhapsodized over the flavor so much, Neal and I decided it was a must for our eating itinerary. After all, Neal hadn't had a good pastrami sandwich in ages.
We had passed the restaurant on one of our sojourns around town earlier in the week, so after sleeping in a bit longer than usual, we made lunch at Jason's our first meal of the day.

Obviously a California-style deli, the place offered salads and soups as well as various sandwiches. We ordered hot pastrami, on rye, with mustard. When the woman taking our order looked at us funny and asked if we didn't want lettuce and tomato too, I said, "no, we're purists." She made some comment about it not looking that way to her and shooed us towards the cashier. Pastrami on rye with mustard isn't pure? What the hell else do these freaky west-coast-type people put on pastrami? Oh, the horror of it all!

And the verdict on the sandwiches? Eh. They were ok. The meat was cut too thickly, and there was plenty of fat on the edges. It was warm in spots and cold in others, due to the nature of microwaving food. It made me long for a corned beef sandwich from Jack's or Attman's, back in Baltimore (we never ate pastrami as a kid, just corned beef or beef brisket). There we could get the meat extra lean, sliced paper thin so one doesn't pull a slab of meat out from between the bread while taking a bite, with just the right amount of yellow mustard on fresh slices of rye. And a well-done pickle. Ah, the memories....

Out of all of the restaurants in Las Vegas, why did I choose Mesa Grill? Because I was familiar with the place; we had eaten in the New York restaurant a few years ago, and it still remains one of our favorite dining experiences. The food was amazing, the service excellent, and the atmosphere casual and hip. This time, I was turning 40 and didn't want to be disappointed by my celebratory meal.

We had seen the Food Network special on Mesa Grill LV and were pleased to have the chance to actually go inside the place. A shame they never got those giant flaming grill/rotisserie gadgets working, but they probably would have been: 1) dangerous; 2) too hot, which might affect the climate of the place.

I was a bit afraid of drinking wine because of my maybe-allergy to grapes, so I ordered a cosmopolitan with Absolut. Neal, no longer afraid to spend some money in a restaurant, ordered a Glenfiddich and water. They were very generous with the scotch, and the cosmo was excellent. The best part was the price - only $7 apiece with a $2 surcharge for my premium vodka. Definitely one of the best deals in all of Las Vegas!

Unfortunately, it's been so long since this dinner, I can't remember what my appetizer was, but it may well have been the roasted pumpkin soup. I'm pretty sure Neal had the bbq duck on a blue corn pancake; he can't pass on duck if it's on a menu! If memory serves, both were terrific. For entrees, I went for the Sixteen Spice Rotisserie Chicken with Caramelized Mango Sauce and Buttermilk-Chive Mashed Potatoes, and Neal had the Coffee Spice Rubbed Rotisserie Filet Mignon with Wild Mushroom-Ancho Chile Sauce and Horseradish Potato Gratin. I had seen Bobby Flay make a sixteen spice chicken dish on Iron Chef, and was intrigued. It was amazing - a tender, juicy leg portion of chicken, absolutely coated with a suprisingly delicate spice concoction, sweetened with mango sauce. The mashed potatoes were creamy and delicious. Neal's filet was huge, tender and perfectly cooked. The coffee flavor didn't stand out, but the sauce was exquisite and the potato gratin was a dish I'd want to have in my Last Meal. Wow.

We couldn't decide on dessert, as there were far too many choices, so we tried the sampler - what I thought would be three half portions of blueberry shortcake, caramelized apple cheesecake, and molten chocolate cake. But nooo...three full-size desserts (full-sized these days thankfully means pretty small) arrived on a boat of a plate, each garnished with various scoops of sorbet and drizzles of sauce. We managed to finish all but one bite of the cheesecake.

What a fabulous meal. The service was great, the food decadent. I don't know why people hate Bobby Flay so much - the man knows how to design a menu.

Jason's Deli on Urbanspoon
Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill on Urbanspoon