Friday afternoon found me in Manhattan, and I had about a 45-minute window for lunch while I was downtown, so I decided to fulfill a long-standing goal and headed to Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill. Overall, I was quite impressed, especially after the disappointment of Mario Batali’s Otto last year.
I sat at the bar and asked the bartender which fish dish he would recommend; without hesitating, he pointed to the ancho chile-honey glazed salmon. It was, as promised, outstanding. The salmon was covered with an ancho chile rub, seared, then glazed with honey and roasted. The three sauces (a spicy black bean sauce, an unidentified sauce that seemed to be based on roasted peppers, and a jalapeÃ±o crema) were all layered underneath the fish, so I could start by tasting the fish on its own and then add sauces to my liking. The spicy black bean sauce was the best option, spicy but not hot, with an earthy flavor that helped offset the spiciness both of the sauce and the rub. The crema was the worst, with almost no flavor, like little dollops of bland crÃ¨me fraiche. The salmon was prepared medium-rare, slightly below where I like it, but the fish was incredibly fresh.
The pre-meal bread options are a bit different. One was a very plain, fresh white-flour roll, good because it was still warm, but otherwise not bringing much to the table taste-wise. The other was a corn muffin, although that doesn’t give you much of a feel for it. It was cornbread, shaped like a muffin, packed with yellow corn, made mostly with stone-ground blue cornmeal, with flecks of bell and jalapeño peppers, dense and moist and definitely heavy on the fat (which keeps a muffin or cake moist). I had a hard time getting through the entire muffin, although I toughed it out in the end.