Ambiance is a factor for me. Somehow a fillet, dry aged for 3 weeks and cooked to perfection just tastes better when I'm overlooking a beach lined with palm trees rather than peering out a window into a smoky casino. This was our experience last week when Liv's National Dance Competition took us to Las Vegas where the kids and I grabbed the opportunity to visit Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill in Caesar's Palace. Don't misunderstand, we had a fantastic dinner! We had driven 6 hours (including a 45 minute full stop on I-15 for the removal of an overturned big rig), unloaded costumes, suitcases, backpacks and a cooler, changed clothes and driven 10 miles back to the Vegas Strip... all without lunch!
I-15 Traffic... definitely not 80 MPH!
The three of us were weary, hungry and a bit grumpy as we eagerly took our seats in the Mesa Grill. To ease my aching back and head I treated myself to a Chimay Ale that was highly recommended by the waiter. Heaven! I soon confirmed Chimay Ale to be far better than Advil for relieving head and body aches. Pictures of the warm Blue and Yellow Corn Muffins had been dancing in my head for hours, so I was a bit disappointed when they arrived at the table cold, and slightly dry. No big deal... the Pork Tenderloin was on it's way!
The waiter was agreeable to bring Olivia her fillet without the coffee rub and her mouth was watering in anticipation. After what seemed like hours our meal arrived. The fillet was everything it was meant to be... cooked to perfection, tender and bursting with flavor. Liv had that smile on her face, the one when the meal lives up to the dream! Unfortunately Drew and my Pork Tenderloin didn't have the same effect. The meat was not as warm as her fillet (almost as if it had been sitting out while they waited for her fillet to be done), both were a bit overcooked and no where near as tender as I remembered. Not to say that it wasn't delicious, but it just wasn't as good as I remembered. Perhaps I over anticipated the meal, or maybe it was my view of the smoky casino with a sports scoreboard flashing over the tops of the glitzy slot machines. Maybe it was the fact that my husband was 300 miles away, working, or maybe it just wasn't as good. Whatever the reason, I didn't enjoy this visit to Mesa Grill as much as my prior visit in the Bahamas.
Thankfully, Liv did have one of the best meals of her life. She ate that entire fillet and topped it off with delicious Churros and a Chocolate dipping sauce. The smile on her face made up for whatever was lacking from my meal, and next time we visit the Bahamas I will eagerly return to the Mesa Grill with the anticipation of another delicious meal... this time with ambiance. But until I get there, I know that I can still have those corn muffins, warm, any time I want.
Oh, and as for the dance competition, Liv is now the proud owner of a 6th Place National Trophy which she received for her solo performance! Woo Hoo!!!!
Bobby Flay's Blue and Yellow Corn MuffinsBobby Flay's Mesa Grill
6 Tbs unsalted butter
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1⅓ cups whole milk
4 large eggs
2 Tbs honey
1/2 cup finely diced red bell pepper
2 jalapeño chiles, finely diced
1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
2 Tbs finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup blue cornmeal
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
4 tsp kosher salt
Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a 12-muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Divide the mixture evenly between 2 large bowls.
In another large bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, honey, red pepper, jalapeños, corn and cilantro. Pour the mixture into a measuring cup and add half of the mixture to each of the large bowls containing the onion mixture.
Put the blue cornmeal and yellow cornmeal in 2 separate bowls. To each bowl, add ⅔ cups flour, 1½ teaspoons baking powder, ¼ teaspoon baking soda, and 2 teaspoons salt. Mix each cornmeal mixture into a bowl with the liquid mixture.
Pour an equal amount of each batter side by side into each muffin cup and bake for about 16 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out with a few moist crumbs on it. Let the muffins cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then remove to a cooking rack.