Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Red Mesa - Quite the exquisite outing!

Red Mesa Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Our post-Freefall Theater ('Cabaret'!) dining choice brought Watson and myself to the Red Mesa Restaurant on 4th St. N. with Dr. Juan and Lady Cynthia in attendance after a wonderful night at the theatre.

In the schema of an upscale Mexican restaurant in contrast to a rudimentary 'burrito with rice and beans' ambiance, the casually appointed Red Mesa delivers quite the number of vibrant treatments on dishes of Pollo (Santa Fe Chicken Breast stuffed with spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, and gouda cheese), Mariscos y Pescados (Grouper Al Mojo y Ajo), Carne (Gorgonzola Stuffed Filet) and a delectable host of others; nothing about this restaurant is as one might expect from your typical Southwestern fare....I felt something was afoot! 

When I espied an entry categorized as 'Enchiladas' I was sure I had them! Yet when I read the very first entry - 'Duck Enchilada's' with Roasted Duck, red onions and peppers with a rasberry chipotle sauce.............I was quietly elated for their benefit (for far be it from me that I could yield so much as a hint that they had pulled one over my keen intellect!). This approach was simply outstanding! From the outset it appeared that they had every angle covered! Outstanding!

A pitcher of fresh Sangria, fresh guacamole, and a starter of Tuna Ceviche was soon followed by our carefully chosen entree selections (and as an aside there was seemingly zero delay in any order we placed and our server was a delightfully cheerful woman who was quick on the uptake).

My choice of Southwest Tuna on Plantains which was simply the largest Tuna Steak I have ever had and done in such a delicious Southwest flair it left me speechless and satiated!

Watson's Southwest Grilled Grouper over a chile verde sauce with tequila braised field greens nearly silenced my friend for the evening! (But THAT was not to be.............)

Dr. Juans' Wild Mushroom Quesadilla with Vegetarian Black Bean Soup was perhaps the least adventurous choice on it's surface but as a Vegan this offering was very much appreciated and salivated over by our guest.

Yet it was the Chiles en Nogada of Lady Cynthia that stirred our thoughts most; a large chile relleno filled with roast pork, apricots, plantains, raisins, chipolte chile and garlic with a walnut cream sauce with Pomegranate seeds. 

By evenings end our little party was feeling like we had discovered a lovely jewel in the crown in all of Tampa Bay and one that we will most definitely look to frequent again! It even made us forget, at least temporarily, Lady Cynthia's wardrobe malfunction which she seemed to struggle with right from the start but that got progressively less obtrusive as the day (and alcohol) wore on.

We look forward to ur next gathering with our friends in such a wonderful ambiance of fine food and friends.

Now off on another adventure!

CABARET - The Freefall Theater, St. Petersburg, FL

After so many years of enjoying the theater on London's West End, and with a predisposition towards disguises, ruses and the like, Watson and I over the years have attended many of the best performances in the theater that this fine country has to offer. From the exemplary performance of George Rose in 'The Pirates of Penzance" at the Marriott Marquis Theater in Times Square 100 years ago to the more recent stunning exhibition this year by Nina Arianda at New York's Lyceum Theater in "Venus in Fur",  our penchant for fine theater takes us far and wide in search of such excellence.

It was on just such a foray that we found ourselves inside The Freefall Theatre in St. Petersburg, FL recently for a performance of 'Cabaret' at the invitation of our dear friends Dr. Juan de Tarpone and his vibrant wife Lady Cynthia who suggested this as an opportunity to get together after too-long a respite and reacquaint ourselves with both the Theatre and with each other.

Being our first visit to the Freefall Theater on Central Ave. (located on West Central and halfway to Treasure Island, not as I was first believed in downtown St. Pete.) we arrived 10 minutes early and were pleased to see a well stocked adult beverage bar service of fine wines, an plethora of bottled beer selections, cocktails for those more adventurous, and an assortment of minor confections (yet regrettably no fine pipe tobacco.) So with fine libations in hand, we retrieved our tickets from will-call.

Upon entering the theater we were pleased to see that our seats were actually a 4 person 'table' within the 'Cabaret' itself, thrusting us and many other patrons directly into the experience. As the house lights dimmed we noticed a character enter and, without a word spoken for almost 5 minutes, slowly and almost in pantomime took us thru his mental anguish, his memory haunting him of his past within the now darkened theater..... facial expressions and despair clearly in place...........enthralling(!) was this introduction and portended the gift of what was to come!

With an inventive little set that completely transports you fully into the environs imagined, from train car, hotel flat and hallway, marketplace, and Berlin nightspot, it was a well done design that gave the viewer a clear sense of belief and not 'small theater production'.

But the beauty of this show was clearly in the performances themselves. Our Emcee, performed by David Mann (he of exasperated and painful memory above) completely owned this show. His fine hand permeated the stage every time he made an appearance (which was often) and controlled the aura in such a subtle yet strong way that you were of the belief that this one character was the steel beam giving rigidity to the entire 'building'. Easily one of the best acting displays I have seen in Florida over the last 20+ years AND better than many Broadway performances Watson and I have seen. SPLENDID!

Yet no less intriguing was the role of Sally Bowles, performed delightfully by Ms. Jennifer Byrne, whose role started lightly and continued to gain steam the whole show until it literally exploded in the namesake final song and stunned all of us with a set of pipes that even cruise ships would be most envious of.

Literally all of the performances in this production were exemplary and transportive. Roxanne Fay's Fraulein Schneider had Watson reminiscing about Mrs. Hudson back at 221-B Baker St. while the excellent and sinewy saunterings of the dancers in the show (the very limber Haley Schneider, the sultry Megan Morgan, and the deliciously saucy Heather Baird) reminded me of some of my more pleasureable times at The Hippodrome on Charring Cross Rd. near Picadilly Circus. With all of these actors, you 'believed' each characterization and WERE transported to Nazi Germany in the 1930's......... and what more can you ask of a production than this suspension of belief? This is the epitome of good theater.......

As a limited run I would implore all who enjoy great theater that THIS is a production you will remember for a LONG TIME and you should run, not walk, to get tickets while they are still available!

Now off to another case!