Last night, there was a Merengue in my mouth. As the sultry Latin flavors melded together, there was an explosion of flavor that was as vibrant as the dinnerware on which the food was served. Every course heightened my anticipation for the next. Last night’s culinary experience at Mesa Latin Kitchen, located in Durham, left me longing for more….
When my friend Melissa, from Adventures of Frugal Mom, invited me to join her for the preview dinner, I eagerly accepted. For a moment, I worried that I’d have a difficult time finding healthy fare. In years past, I’ve turned down many invitations, fearing that any food other than my usual “safe” foods would cause a binge. Immediately, I thought of Bethenny Frankel’s book, Naturally Thin. In her book, Bethenny always suggests that we should “taste everything, eat nothing.” Of course, she doesn’t mean that you should eat nothing! She merely suggests that instead of always cleaning your plate, you should simply have a few bites of everything, so that you don’t feel deprived. Since reading her book, her saying has become my mantra. As a future health coach, I realize the importance of treating yourself. I decided that Mesa would be the perfect opportunity to test Bethenny’s theory of “tasting everything, eating nothing”.
Upon accepting Melissa’s invitation, I immediately began researching Mesa Latin Kitchen. Mesa officially makes it’s debut this weekend. I was thrilled to discover that Mesa is a tapas restaurant. Sometimes, for me, an entire entree is overwhelming. I’m always more comfortable with smaller servings.
With Melissa’s navigational skills, we easily found the restaurant. We were greeted at the door and I immediately fell in love with the colorful, eclectic decor. It was festive, yet intimate. There was a separate room, large enough for a party.
After we were seated, we poured over the menu as our drink orders were taken. Several of the other bloggers ordered the Sangria. My friend, Melissa, ordered the Pineapple Rumtini. I opted for a wine spritzer. I love the spritzers because they are lower in calories and alcohol.
I quickly discovered that I was not alone in my love for eating, drinking, and blogging!
As the food began to come, we furiously took notes and pictures, while simultaneously posting on our social media. Let it be known that bloggers can multitask. In fact, that’s what we do best!
First, we were served homemade salsa with plantain chips.
Next, we sampled the Fried Queso Blanco and the Mixed Marinated Olives. I really need an olive etiquette class. There is nothing graceful about disposing of the olive pits!
One of my absolute favorites was the Coconut Rice, which featured crab, coconut cream, and peas; served in a coconut shell. The coconut shell was atop a banana leaf. What attention to detail! I could easily eat this every day of my life.
There were several different items included in the next course…
I adorded the Shrimp Ceviche. I’ve been a long-time fan of cheviche, but this is much different than what I make at home. Fabulous!
The Avocado Tomato Salad was fresh and light!
My horizons were broadened when I tasted the Grilled Octopus. It’s not often a person has an opportunity to eat octopus! Although I was skeptical at first, the octopus was cooked perfectly and was very tender.
I very much enjoyed the flatbread.
Since, I’m not much of a meat eater, I didn’t try the Crispy Braised Skirt Steak, served with tomato escabeche, black beans, and white rice. The others raved about this dish. It was the favorite of many.
Another of my favorite dishes was the Chicken Imperial. It was served with a yellow rice made of manchego, olives, peas, and peppers. The chicken was so tender, it nearly melted in my mouth. Much to my dismay, the chicken I cook at home never tastes like this.
After the ribs, we were brought bowls of water to cleanse our fingertips. So thoughtful! These are Lee’s nails. I reminded that I must have a manicure soon! Check out Lee’s blog, here. I really enjoyed chatting with her!
The service at Mesa was absolutely outstanding! We were treated like royalty.
Of course, the asparagus was delectable. The lemon on top of the asparagus was fried! Of all the fried things I’ve tasted in my life, the fried lemon was among the best. So adventurous!
Next, was the Curried Quinoa. It contained carrots, shrimp, bacon, and coconut curry. Curry has so many fantastic medicinal qualities.
We shared all of the courses with the people at our table. I made sure to eat only a few bites of everything and was amazing satisfied! I once read that the first few bites are always the best. I was pleased that I felt satisfied, but not full. I’ve found that as long as I don’t feel full, I don’t feel guilty.
After our main courses, we had a visit from the talented chef, Douglas Rodriquez. You can read more about him here. He was once on Bravo’s Top Chef.
We began with a goat cheese flan. This was the favorite of one of the servers. I have to agree. It was so tender!
Next, was a guava pistachio pound cake. Light and flaky, this was my favorite!
Before last night, I’d never had tapioca. The presentation was mind-blowing! It was served in a coconut!
Although not technically a dessert, we were served the Smoked Bacon Wrapped Dates. Anything that contains bacon is a winner. I have no problem eating bacon as a dessert!
Before making the hour-and -a-half drive home, I opted for an expresso. This was my first expresso ever. Not only was I very alert for the drive home, I was awake until four in the morning!
Without a doubt, Mesa Latin Kitchen is a place that I will visit over and over! The food and service were among the best I’ve had. From last night, I learned that I can indulge in fantastic new foods without the guilt if I eat small amounts. I learned that food actually tastes much better in small amounts. I appreciated being able to meet new people that share my passion for blogging. I learned that I can drive in heavy Raleigh traffic (as long as I have a fantastic navigator). I learned that I can eat octopus. And, finally, I learned to never drink espresso before bedtime.
Thank you, Mesa Latin Kitchen, for an amazing experience!