Mesa – Nottingham

Rejoice, for dining out has returned. I’ve spent most of the last few weeks revisiting some of my favourite spots that I missed most. I am pleased to report that Kushi-Ya, Iberico, Baresca, Cumin, Tamatanga and the Ruddington Arms have all been as good as I remembered. Perhaps understandably there have been less new openings than under normal circumstances but a few have still caught the eye. One of those I was most interested to try was Mesa.


My reviews usually list a cuisine alongside the title of the post, Mesa is already different. The offering ranges from small plates to larger dishes of a wide range of cultures and inspirations. I can’t think of anywhere else with a menu quite like it. As you enter what was Pizza Express in Hockley you get the feeling its a cool place to be, its a bit hipster but casual with an open kitchen creating a buzz of atmosphere between the socially distant bench tables. Cementing my stereotypes the drinks options are really quite good for craft beer with Deya and Track breweries amongst my favourites, but distinctly lacking for wine! The food takes influence from China, USA, the Middle East to name but a few. The suggestion is a “plate” £8-14 and a “side plate” £4-7 would probably suffice as a meal but as there was three of us we just ordered a range of things. One thing to note is that the menu does not list any specifically vegan dishes but mentioned certain dishes could be altered to accommodate dietaries.

Bavette Steak

A whipped feta salad was amongst the first to appear, a summer stormer with flavourful heritage tomatoes, zingy dressing and herbs bought together by the rich cheese. Another side of fries with Lincolnshire poacher are always likely to be a crowd pleaser, I’d have liked a touch more colour on the chips but they were still crispy and it was good to see a more interesting cheese being employed than usual. The first of the main dishes I tried was the bavette steak and I noted the plating had changed from having seen it on Instagram. Not convinced the smear suited the dish but presentation aside the steak was really well cooked to my taste, medium rare with smoky char from the cooking adding to the natural flavour of the meat. The chimichurri bought a lovely tang of vinegar, freshness of herbs and warm from a subtle heat.

Hispi Cabbage

My favourite dish of the evening may be a surprise but sometimes you really can’t beat a bit of cabbage. The grilled hispi’s crispy blackened edges complementing the fresher leaves within. The romesco sauce was also a winner, something I’ve had on occasions that’s been bordering on tasteless. Not here though, the garlicy, tomato kick working really well with the hispi. Lamb flatbread was a serious amount of food, the slow cooked meat had a subtle spicing but there needed to be more pickles, more than the small side pot of yogurt to really bring this to life. As it was there was little to fault but it was less special than the other dishes and much more reminiscent to something I’ve cooked at home . There was a singular dessert of yuzu white miso cheesecake which had enough intrigue about it for us to fit it in. It was served in a ramekin which lost a bit of that layer effect that you usually get with a cheesecake. The overriding flavour was yuzu and I could detect very little miso which was a shame. Perfectly pleasant to finish but quickly forgettable.

Lamb Flatbread

There is lots to like about Mesa. I was slightly sceptical about the breadth of the offering that includes such diverse cuisines but the food was pretty consistently good so its hard to criticise. It is rare to find something unique and Mesa does feel like an interesting and welcome addition to Nottingham. It is one of those places that is hard to rate for value as you probably end up ordering too much! One could easily just have that lamb flatbread and spend something like £12-15 and go away full. One thing that wasn’t clear is how often the menu might change, currently with how small it is you could easily order almost all of it as a party of 4. If it does get a regular shakeup I’ll be keen to go back and try more of their creations.

Check Mesa out here: