October 8, 2011 Las Vegas with Jonathan

Originally we were going to drive home through Yosemite N.P. It’s an interesting ride. You get to go on the Extra-Terrestrial Highway, see the old mining town of Tonopah, take a ride on what we call roller coaster road (CA 120 in California east of US 395 has a series of dips and hills) and finally end up in Yosemite N.P. coming in at Tioga Pass at almost 10,000 feet. Unfortunately this week of freakish weather has left the Sierras with a coat of snow and has closed the road. So we decide to make the most of our boring ride home with a stop overnight in Las Vegas.

Not being big gamblers, we decide to stay at a Residence Inn south of the strip for a quick getaway tomorrow. Tonight, though, we plan to go to Caesar’s Palace and have dinner at Mesa Grill. Jonathan is very enthused. After battling monumental traffic due to construction on I-15, we spend a little time at the Shadow Sports Bar. (Since I, of course, allocated way too much time to get to the casino.)

Jonathan at the Shadow Sports Bar

Then it is on to the Mesa Grill. After perusing the wine list and choosing a bottle of Albarinho, we order some appetizers.

Crispy Squash Blossoms with Ricotta, Corn, Basil, Hot & Sweet Yellow Pepper Sauce

Blue Corn Pancake - Barbecued Duck + Habanero Chile-Star Anise Sauce

Rough Cut Tuna “Nachos” Mango - Habanero Hot Sauce + Avocado Crema

We all think that squash blossoms are pretty spectacular, John and I also really like the blue pancake (Jon less so) and the tuna is just okay.

Then we order dinner and some problems start. I have the Sixteen Spice Chicken with Tamarind Barbecue Sauce, Red Cabbage and Jicama Slaw. I am not a fan of the bitter sauce but mostly not a fan of the overcooked chicken. The replacement is much better.

Mary's chicken

John orders the Cascabel Chile Crusted Rabbit with Toasted Cous Cous, Fava Beans, Smoked Red Pepper Sauce and Queso Blanco. He says the breast in very good but surprisingly the thigh/leg portion is dry.

John's rabbit

In the background of John’s dish are three sides we order – Smoked Chile Collard Greens, Roasted Corn with Chipotle Aioli, Lime and Cotija and Chipotle Sweet Potatoes. The greens are fine, the roasted corn is cosmic and the sweet potatoes are disappointing. They are undercooked and crunchy. We’ve had this dish at Mesa Grill before and it was fabulous. So fabulous, in fact, that we’ve spent the last seven years trying to perfect for our Thanksgiving dinner. We send the sweet potatoes back.

Unfortunately I do not have a picture of Jonathan’s Cornmeal Crusted Chile Relleno with Roasted Eggplant and Manchego Cheese, Sweet Red Pepper Sauce and Balsamic Sauce. Apparently Jon’s first relleno explodes in the fryer so he is served his dinner somewhat after us. But he likes it a lot.

Finally we end with some crema di tequila. So, so good. I guess Clark and Lewis agree.

Clark and Lewis hit the sauce

After dinner is done and the check presented, the manager comes over and tells us that all the entrees have been comped due to their inability to get the dinners out together. So all in all, a pretty good dinner at a good price!

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