Costa Mesa, CA, USA

Travel Costa Mesa Blog

Birthday Dinner and Drinks at Mesa Restaurant

Posted on September 21, 2009 | 9:00am | Travel Costa Mesa

Girls’ mini-weekend in Costa Mesa and we headed to Mesa Restaurant just a few minutes from our hotel and a short walk to several interesting bars.  Mesa is owned by the same investment group that owns Firefly in Studio City, not suprising considering the minimalist nature of both their websites.  Neither website is a good place to go when looking for information about the chefs, how long they’ve been open, the architecture and design, etc.  The website does not even offer the cocktail menu or the wine list.  Le sigh.  I must make phone calls.  And this review?  Again with the iPhone.  I brought both my cameras for the weekend, but left them both in the hotel room.

Mesa’s interior is nothing less than striking, with a retractable open ceiling, a giant bar in between a lounge and terraced restaurant seating that overlooks the entire room.  The stage is set for prime partying in an upscale but unstuffy fashion.  Mesa is a little (a lot) night clubby, but I like that.  I never go to night clubs and even a girls’ night out is a rarity these days.  Mesa would be very successful in LA, but LA has a short attention span for evening entertainment.  I prefer that Mesa stay south where it might continue to thrive under the radar from LA.  PYTs and striped shirt brigade, well beyond the geographic reach of Paris Hilton’s panty-less crotch.

C starteed with a Dragon Lady cosmo decorated with a dried hibiscus.  It may be a hibiscus, they said it was a hibiscus.  I usually think of hibiscus as red, but at any rate this was beautiful to look at and nice to drink.

The birthday girl and I started with lychee martinis.  No simple syrup, simply housemade lychee puree.  Always my go-to indulgent sweet girly drink.  One of the girls thought the lychee looked like balls, I personally think they look a little like brains.  My mind is not in the gutter.  Well, it is, but just not with the lychee.

S started with a champagne cocktail and said it was crafted with perfection.  Not too heavy on the bitters, and iwth a sugar cube as she prefers, rather than sloose sugar in the bottom of the glass.

To get our appetites going, we started with a lovely little cheese plate.  Rachelle ordered this, a regular guest at Mesa, this is not on the meny anymore but they still offer it if you know to ask for it.  From the left: Roaring Forties, a semi-soft cow’s milk bleu cheese from King Island, Australia.  In the middle is a lovely little manchego.  Manchego is a sheep’s milk cheese from La Mancha, Spain created solely from the milk of Machega sheep.  And all the way to the right is my favorite, the Bermuda Triangle, an artisanal goat cheese that hails from Cypress Grove, California.  Served alongside out cheeses was a cherry jam, honeycomb, and quince jelly.  Perfect to coat four girls’ tummies before a hard night of celebrating our girlness.

To start I ordered the mushroom salad for the table: Shaved Cremini Mushrooms, Radicchio, Parmigianino-Reggiano, White Truffle Oil, Sea Salt.  It was delicious.  No one elsew really dug into these beautiful shrooms, and I don’t know why.  More for me.

My three friends shared the Hamachi Sashimi on Crispy Rice Cakes, Local Hot Chilies, Green Garlic, Tobiko, Ginger Infused White Soy.  They ooh’d and aah’d.

For an entree C took on the Caramelized Leek Pizza with Goat Cheese and Pancetta Pinwheels.  She has a teeny tiny appetite and most of this beautiful pie went to waste even though we all considered hauling it around with us during our rounds of local bars in order to have something to snack on later.  Our vanity got the better of us and we had them clear it away.  It was delicious though, nice thin crust, goaty cheese presence…the pancetta was not overpowering.  Is it wrong that I want a couple slices of this pizza for my breakfast right now?

The birthday girl ordered these beautiful prawns wrapped in pancetta, piquillo sauce, quince and parsley salad, XVOO.  These are exquisitely yummy.  Spanishy tapas kind of in nature, perfect for sharing, and sharing she did.  We all ate a prawn.

I nommed on this hanger steak, being extremely carnivorous this weekend.  It was cooked to perfect medium-rare doneness, was lean yet extremely tender.  Broccolini served with generous amounts of slivered garlic, all of which I ate.  The tops of the broccolini were just dark enouh to taste broiled…this is a perfect plate.  Another thing I really loved about Mesa, the food comes on small plates and with artful organization.  This was not a huge amount of food, which is really appropriate.  I don’t need to be served a side of beef a la Mastro’s or BLT (although I do adore both these steakhouses).  I can only eat so much food.  I would rather be served less and not waste it than be served Paul Bunyon-esque portions.

The plating of the burger was no less inventive.  I was kind of in love with it.  Served on a long narrow piece of slate, and accompanied by pickles, catsup and mayo.  The slate was a little small for such a big burger, and I couldn’t help but teach over and clean some of the crumbs from the edge of the table.  There was really nowhere for S’s errant beef bits to fall.  I love this though, I kind of want to hunt down some slate for my own kitchen.

A+ burger construction.  Fresh produce generously piled high.

And a lovely piece of beef burger…S waxed on about how great the bun was, although I think toward the end she said it got a little too soggy.  A challenging bun will do in a great burger every time.

One of the best things about Mesa is the service.  We experienced stellar service from both our waitnress and the simmelier.  S, our resident wine expert, was torn between a few wines and the sommlier steered us toward a wonderful $38 bottle, less expensive than either of the wines S had been considering.  It was soo good, we drank two!  Unfortunately, our server wasn’t feeling well and went home early (we were done eating).  Sadly our replacement kind of *poofed*.  But upon moving to the bar, we again were taken well care of by an excellent bartender, so three out of four people who handled us did work that was beyond gracious and welcoming.  Spin it how you will, we had a great time, good food and are all left with a rare night to remember.