Shortly after I reviewed Mesa in Costa Mesa, I vowed never to mention it in this rag again. The owners wouldn't allow anyone to take pictures of the inside--not the Los Angeles Times, not the Orange County Register, not even Riviera (I'm not sure if Riviera ever reviewed them because of this). It's a common tactic of restaurants trying to create "buzz," a concept that belongs in its manufactured meaning to bands, one that should never migrate to the world of food. Such arrogance! Even haughtier was the intentional lack of a sign denoting its existence--unlike Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen, which wanted a sign but never got around to it because of the bureaucratic hand of Orange planning commissioners--Mesa owners wanted to create "buzz." Blecch.
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I laughed when Mesa finally got around to putting up a sign last year and began allowing photographers in. The owners claimed that they had finally settled on a concept and were thus ready for business, but no one bought such bullshit. It's the Great Recession, silly! On my ways to Old Vine Cafe, I'd see the one-huge lines to get into Mesa recede. I laughed.
A couple of weeks ago, I returned on a whim. Was waiting for someone with time to kill, and Ikko was too crowded. A hostess took me to the bar area, where I was promptly ignored for a good 15 minutes. I was ready to take out the red pen, when a kind waitress finally arrived and apologized. She quickly got me a Maker's and my order, some sliders. They were great--a blue cheese that imparted the right amout of tartness, fluffy-yet-substantial bun, and juicy meat. I still prefer the sliders over at Manhattan Supper Club and the burgers at TK's just across the way (more on those beauties soon), but Mesa's duo was yummy.
But the best part was the staff. Before I got the sliders, the chef came out from the kitchen to ask if I had any food allergies because I ordered the mini-hamburgers without avocado. When I received the bill, the waitress wrote "Thank You!" with a smiley face. Perhaps she does it to all her customers, but it's a nice flourish. To right my karma in this world when it comes to waiters and tips, I left her 50 percent. All is forgiven, Mesa. Don't let your cabeza get too big ever again.
Mesa Restaurant, 2937 Bristol St, #H, Costa Mesa, (714) 444-4267. No photo of Mesa yet available; hence, a mesa.