Mesa Kitchen (Turkish) – Southgate
Mesa Kitchen & Lounge had only been open barely a week before we decided on giving it a visit in Southgate.
And these impressions were only further reinforced following our dime tour of the 150-seater, with 70 seats available indoors and 80 more in the “all-weather secret garden” at the back, which was having final touches done at the time.
Given the obvious design and architectural similarities, the restaurant appears to have acquired a building that was, at one time or another, a pub. And with the indoor layout remaining relatively unaltered, it manages to retain that cosy atmosphere so unique to a village “local” while still being quite spacious.
This ambience is further enhanced by the decor, which rotates around the dark colours of browns, creams and greys.
A good dose of character is also added by the large wall pictures that depict various animals poshly dressed in the attire of Homo sapiens, including, we might proudly add, a fully suited lion under whose confident, assured gaze we dined.
While there’s a large bar located to one side of the establishment, sufficient privacy can definitely be had at the far end of the restaurant towards the back.
Some extremely well conceived and executed mocktails here, with a fantastic combination of flavours.
The Red Orange Sparkler’s berry and citrus concoction had a zingy sparkle to it, with the ginger beer cleverly lingering in the background. There’s lots of ice though, so be sure to give this a good stir from time to time.
As for the Pear Cloud, then, honestly, this has to be one of the best mocktails we’ve had this year! The melody of flavours in this were such that only a sophisticated palate could properly evaluate and break things down. Nevertheless, in our humble evaluation, we marvelled at the way in which the almond-sprinkled slices of sour green apple married against the honey-like sweetness of the drink, while also working as a refreshing palate cleanser. An extremely clever, mature and highly recommended mocktail this, and one which is, dare we say, worth travelling for!
This was an interesting take on the classic scallop and apple combo.
Here we had expertly cooked and perfectly seared scallops resting atop dried slices of slightly tart apple and drizzled in a light garlic butter. But what really lifted this dish into the extraordinary was the addition of the smoky meatiness imparted by the crispy Turkey bacon.
An exceptional starter!
These were indeed crispy-cum-crunchy calamaris that were well battered, slightly oily, and had a good bite to them.
While the minty coriander salad was a nice touch, the only shortcoming with this dish, given the size and quantity of the calamaris, was the quantity of the deliciously thick and tangy garlic mayo dip; needed to be far more.
Grilled just right, these Tiger Prawns, when pried out of their shells, were moist and soft to the touch, making them an extremely satisfying little nibble.
As to the mildly spiced relish, then it was well seasoned. All in all, this succeeded as an appetiser.
Swiftly looking past the inevitable unaesthetic appearance of the Chicken Liver, then the first thing we all collectively picked up on was the obvious lack of seasoning. Be certain, therefore, to make good use of the available salt grinder, since this will make all the difference in the world.
You’ll then appreciate the soft texture of the meat and its familiarly strong livery taste which, when had with the crusty sour bread, was really quite good.
While the lamb (hidden under the adana) was juicy, meaty and wonderfully succulent, the chicken had an attractive char across the top and was as moist and tender as you’d like.
The adana shish, however, stole the show here, with a crispy barbecued and well spiced exterior that somewhat betrayed the soft, chewy texture of its interior.
The mixture of veg comprising of soft carrots, beetroot and pungent earthy green was the perfect foil to all that meat.
Similarly, the bowl of chutney was a fruity-sour and mildly spiced concoction that helped to combine all the elements into a coherent and delicious mouthful.
In fact, these were arguably some of the best chops we’ve had this year.
With the juices positively glistening across its perfectly charred surface, not only did these cut like butter to reveal a pink interior, but were of such superior quality and taste as to humble us into a collective state of silent mastication over how truly incredible these really were (even the beautifully rendered fat tasted sweet and satisfying).
While you could quite happily devour these alone, our belief in this dish was further reinforced by its accompanying gravy sauce – rich and creamy, buttery and meaty – that went really well with the sweetness imparted by the caramelised red onions smothered over the top.
Meanwhile, the mash was soft and buttery, with some texture to it, and well-seasoned.
A large 400g T-bone steak that was thick and tender and easily cuttable sans a steak knife, which was supplied nonetheless.
While the accompanying gravy was a tad salty, it was sufficiently dissipated when had with the steak, leaving a tasty, chewy and meaty mouthful of utter goodness.
Mind you, the dish is a hefty one so be sure to order this on an ultra-empty stomach.
Who would have guessed that a burger covered in gravy would turn out to be a bona fide contender for best burger of the year.
Yes we know that this is the third such item in this review alone described as a potential candidate for the end of year FtL Awards, but this Roast Burger was genuinely that good!
It’s true that you may need a knife and fork to finish this off, but by that stage you won’t really care anyway, we promise you.
Here we had a flavourous burger revolving around a couple of succulent charcoal roasted patties, wherein the sourness of the horseradish delivered a tangy edge that married masterfully with the sweetness of the caramelised onions, all brought together by lashings of meaty gravy.
The fresh, crunchy slaw that came with this dish also helped to cut through the richness of the burger.
Need we say: RECOMMENDED!
MESA SPECIALS & SALADS
Although the fillet of Salmon had a crispy exterior, it wasn’t as moist as it should have been.
Nonetheless, the huge sweet potato wedges were superbly roasted – crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the in. The wilted spinach and cherry tomato salad provided a good foil to the strongly flavoured Salmon.
In the end, however, this seemed uninspired and tame in comparison to its predecessors.
Perfect with a good bite to it.
The best of the sides had with a crispy-cum-oily batter that had a sweet undertone, and thus went well with the yoghurt dip.
Not quite; in fact, pretty poor!
While the sweet potato fries were overly soft and wilting, the beetroot fries were fairly hard, as though undercooked.
Crunchy and good, with drizzles of mint butter over the top.
When it comes to chocolate brownies, there’s two schools of thought: cakey and crumbly, or dense and fudgey.
This was definitely the former culminating in an inevitable debate over the issue of what defines a true brownie.
Suffice it to say, if you enjoy yours cakey, then you’ll enjoy this, since it’s light with a mild chocolatey taste to it, and combines well with the smooth vanilla ice cream.
But, if you’re of the latter, then this will be sacrilege.
Certainly looked the part, especially with the show-stopping dissolution of the chocolate sphere via the hot syrup sauce.
Nonetheless, this might, on account of its sugary richness, split the crowd.
If you have a sweet tooth, then you’ll probably appreciate the way in which the dark chocolate sphere’s bitterness is tempered by the sweetness of the caramel sauce and the fruity tartness of the sauce.
Otherwise, when had with the vanilla ice cream, some may find this, as one Lion did, “a tad overwhelming”.
The best thing about it, and a factor that usually makes or breaks this dessert (no pun intended), was the crunchy shell, theatrically caramelised at the table, and shattering satisfyingly under the spoon as it ought to.
As for the layer of custard underneath, then it was well balanced in terms of sweetness, and smooth in terms of consistency.
What’s more, it went really well with the pear tea below.
The restaurant offers an interesting assortment of teas, 10 to be exact; and of the trio we sampled, the best had to have been the pear, which went best with the desserts.
Though the dry jasmine was fairly strong and earthy in taste, it was the peach and apple that was easily the strongest of the three, with the flavour of the former dominating over the latter, and coming across as soothingly medicinal more than anything else.
- YES/ NO
- CHILD SEATING
- QUANDOO (DISCOUNT)
It was obvious that the team behind this restaurant knew exactly what they were doing, from the well-oiled and friendly serving staff, to the quality and execution of much of the food.
After all, it isn't often that FtL reviews a place only to be confronted by three potential contenders for dishes and beverage of the year.
In all honesty, had it not been for a few poorly executed dishes on the night, Mesa Kitchen would have been looking closer to a 4.5, and perhaps even a 5, as opposed to a 4. It most certainly has the potential that's for sure.
This is an exceptional restaurant that has to be on everyone's list, particularly those seeking after good burgers and steaks.
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