I dedicate the carne featured in this post to LG, who celebrated her birthday Monday.
My folks were driving through Raleighwood this past week and we decided to meet up for dinner at Mez, the contemporary Mexican restaurant in RTP operated by the Chapel Hill Restaurant Group (411 West, Squid’s, Spanky’s in Chapel Hill and 518 West in Raleigh).
I had been here before, so I was pumped to return. Last time I got the Tacos de Pescado, which were lightly fried tilapia topped with a cabbage slaw, salsa and a spicy aioli. I highly recommend that entree. It’s a good serving size, balanced, and an all around good rendition. From that former trip, I can also recommend the chips and salsa sampler with three different salsas–roasted tomato-pepper, fresca and avocado-tomatillo green salsa.
Back to this more recent visit. My family ordered diversely. Dad got the beef fajitas (flank steak with red rice, onions, peppers, served with flour tortillas, guacamole, crema and chimichurri). Fajitas are always a winning order because they can be customized! Make it just how you like it.
Mom got the scallop special. These large sea scallops were seared delicately and to perfection: still very tender, like butter melting in your mouth. The scallops came with a jicama/carrot/cilantro slaw and a coconut rice ball, lightly fried. This plate was beautiful and healthy, but more in line with a small plate, not an entree. Serving size = weak.
Well, Mez did not fail in the serving size of my 14 oz. Rib Eye Adobado with sauteed spinach and poblano mashed potatoes. My stomach feels full just thinking about it. The steak was seared to a crisp outside finish with a juicy inside and rubbed with ancho chili, cumin and brown sugar. Then, perched on top was a dollop of a wild mushroom butter.
I felt like Liz Lemon devouring the steak in front of Jack following his secret heart attack. “A dog took it..it came out of nowhere…!” The steak was the hero of the plate, but the spinach was insanely good. Bright and seasoned well. The mashed potatoes were Yukon golds, so they naturally had a delicious buttery texture. I didn’t notice much poblano pepper flavor though.
What an enjoyable experience. It’s also worth noting that Mez is North Carolina’s first restaurant designed to meet LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards for site development, water conservation, energy efficiency and construction materials. Mez collaborated with UNC-CH students and faculty during planning stages.
Some differences you may notice in the restaurant’s operation: the use of local organic ingredients, mostly natural lighting, washcloths (not papertowels) in the restroom and hybrid vehicle designated parking.
Because of their commitment to recycling, community involvement, and green operations, the Chapel Hill Restaurant Group was named the 2007 Sustainable Business of the Year by the Foundation for a Sustainable Community. Hoorah! What a great example to set for high quality food (The Foodiest Small Town in America, Bon Appétit), environmental consciousness and green advances in engineering.