Posted by Lauren
Nicole and I have not done a WIAW post in quite a while!
Monday was my first full day of NYC eats and it more than inspired me to dust off my WIAW pencil. From the accidental breakfast to the overwhelming dinner at Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill, I have quite a bit to show ya. Here we go! (Check out the other WIAW posts on Jenn’s blog!)
I thought breakfast and coffee/tea would be provided at my training, but nope, there wasn’t anything! I chewed on 4 slices of Trident (always have a stash in my backpack), anxiously awaiting our 10:30 break. As soon as it came, I dashed downstairs like a kid on Christmas morning and
ran walked out the door in search of food.
I didn’t get very far! (as in, this place is next door!)
Essen is very clean, has a ton of food options, and they have a variety of coffee flavors. Really, that’s all that mattered at this point :)
I grabbed 3 bananas for $1 and a large cup of this brew:
A banana and coffee held me over until lunchtime. I would have made myself a giant cup of oatmeal, but they had already put away the toppings. Note: I did get oatmeal on Tuesday and it was amazing; loved the flat rate + unlimited berries/raisins.
I walked around during our lunch break, going south on Madison, and then west, and then north, and then east. Exploring Outside > Inside Eating. Eventually I popped into a cute deli:
I ordered the signature turkey sandwich (mesculun greens, aioli, baked turkey, aromatic herbs, tomatoes), which also came with a small side salad. I did a little people watchin’ while I waited…
I grabbed the to-go bag and ate my sandwich in the training room. I’m not sure about you, but “aioli” makes anything taste good!
When we ended at 5, I headed back to the hotel to get ready for a few west coast calls. Suddenly, I was hungry again (not surprised), so I ducked inside Grand Central since the food stalls were now open.
I ordered a medium Ambrosia juice from Dishes kiosk – banana, strawberry, banana (and I asked them to add carrots).
I didn’t take a photo, but it was good and just what I needed to make it until 9 pm’s dinner. Sean convinced me via g-chat to forego a NY pizza dinner in favor of one of my bucket list items… dinner with Flay.
I took the subway down to 14th street and stumbled into Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill. I think some people turn their nose at “celebrity” food chefs and can be more critical of their food/restaurants because they need to almost exceed the hype, but I’m just an open-minded fan so… yeah.
Dinner & Dessert
I sat at the bar, book in hand, relishing my solo-date-ness. When I asked for the menu, the bartender handed me two: the standard menu and a Restaurant Week menu. Um, say what? The concept of Restaurant Week is brilliant. Pre fixe lunch or dinner menus, slightly discounted, at the coolest restaurants? LOVE. I decided “why not?” and went for the full shebang…
White Peach Margarita
Fresh Tomato Tortilla Soup with Avocado + Queso
The SOUP. The SOUP. The SOUP!! WOW. The soup was just impeccable. More of tomato soup’s Western sister, this “tortilla” soup was hands down the best I’ve ever had. (My all time favorite soup, to this day, is the French Onion soup I had at my Uncle Tony’s wedding. Family reading this, do any of you remember where that was?)
Between the perfect soup and pages of Charles Dickens, I scanned the room. The upholstery was so kitsch, I wish I would have taken a better photo.
It was hard to pick what to have has my main entree: chicken, fish, or chile relleno?
Wild Striped Bass with Roasted Corn Sauce, Jalapeno Pesto + Charred Corn-Tomato Salsa.
This bass had a crispy outside layer and was warm and flaky on the inside. The roasted corn sauce became the dominant flavor – thankfully that was my favorite part!
My view. Notice the half moon above the bar?
Nicole helped me choose dessert from all the way across the country. Thanks, sis! She vetoed the caramel chocolate pudding in favor of this beauty:
Vanilla Bean Custard with Summery Berry Salad
The ladies next to me pleaded with the waiter to get the same dessert, though they did not order from the Restaurant Week menu. Not one to get in the way of two pretty females, the smart bartender sent them one right away. The custard was silky smooth and I made sure to eat every last bite, despite the fact that I was quite full. I thought it was strange how the vanilla bean pods only showed on the top of the custard…… curious.
Then the bill came.
Now I don’t have to longingly pass by Mesa Grill in Caesar’s Palace (Las Vegas) and lust after it. Phew! Got that out of my system.
I left Mesa Grill, walked east towards Greenwich Village, and then north to Times Square. #tourist #sowhat
So sweaty. So alone. HAHA
I headed back to the hotel (3 miles on very tired feet) and eventually fell asleep at 2 am. Not sure why I’m having issues with the time change, but such is life!
Before I finish this insanely long post (I doubt Nicole is still reading at this point. Mom? You there?), I want to tell you a story about the guy who sat a few seats away from me.
- He was a ginger.
- A curly-haired one.
- He had fair skin.
- He said the word “season.” (TV??)
But he was most certainly not Bobby Flay. As I sat there by myself, I imagined up a whole pretend life for this Bobby Flay look-a-like. He probably hits up Mesa Grill, hoping to be confused for Bobby, or Bobby’s cousin, or Bobby’s brother, or the eldest Weasley. And as he sits at the bar, he waits for women (in this case the blondie blocking my spy shot) to approach him. He then spins lies about his chef brother/cousin/uncle, drinks, eats, and gets their numbers. Game, at its finest.
Question: Who is your favorite Food Network chef? Ever been to a “celebrity” chef restaurant? How was it?
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