J.R. Tolkien

"Not all those who wander are lost." - J.R. Tolkien

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Mesa, A Collaborative Kitchen: Bringing Chefs to the Table

If you're looking for a place to eat in Louisville and southern Indiana, there's no shortage of great restaurants to choose from.  However, if you're looking for a culinary experience, there's very few places like Mesa, A Collaborative Kitchen.  This recently opened kitchen-classroom and cookware boutique in historic downtown New Albany creates a homey kitchen space that brings diners and chefs together for an intimate dining experience.

As soon as we entered Mesa, we were greeted by the owner and seated around a modern kitchen along with 20 other guests.  The space is designed to emulate the feel of coming over to a friend's house for dinner.  Behind the counter is chef Josh Weise, executive chef for Brown Forman who once cooked for president Bush and vice president Cheney on their visit to Louisville.  As chef Weise prepared dinner, he interacted with guests, explained where the food came from, shared personal stories and answered questions.

Chef Josh Weise interacted with guests as he prepared dinner. Photo: Mesa
Chef Weise preparing dessert
The chef for each event comes from well known local restaurants like The Exchange, Asiatique, Con Huevos, Brooklyn and The Butcher, or has certain area of expertise.

All the ingredients for our four course dinner ($75) came from local farmers, except for the mussels.

1st : Drunken mussels in a heirloom tomato broth with grill sourdough
2nd: Bibb salad, strawberries, candied pecans, caramelized cippolini onion & Kenny's smoked blue cheese dressing
3rd: Sweet tea brine fried chicken served with Kenny's white cheddar grit cake and Alabama white sauce
4th: Bourbon peach cobbler, vanilla whip and caramel sauce
The dinner took a total of 2 hours but time went by quickly as the whole experience was interactive and the food came out at the perfect pace.  

I won free tickets for dinner at Mesa through a Yelp Elite giveaway contest (Learn how you can become a Yelp Elite for cool prizes and events in the future) so am refraining from writing an actual review.  The short of it is: I came away full and happy with this unique experience.  I would recommend this for those looking to break away from a traditional dinner for a special occasion.

If you're interested, here are some additional details:
  • 23 tickets sold per session 
  • Prices range from $35 - $99, depending on whether it's dinner, breakfast, brunch or a special demonstration/tasting
  • Price of ticket includes a drink (including wine and cocktails)
  • Check their event page for dates, description, and prices.  Tickets are booked online only
  • 18% gratuity is NOT included and will be added at checkout & will show up as a tax
  • Join their mailing list for specials.  If seats are not filled, special discounts (usually 25% off) are offered on the day of the event
  • Mesa is available for private events such as wedding rehearsal dinner, birthdays, retirement, etc.
  • There's a professional photographer on site to take pictures of the event, check photos under "archives" on their website.
MESA, A Collaborative Kitchen
216 Pearl Street
New Albany, IN 47150
(812) 725-7691
​Tuesday - Friday 10:30 am - 6 pm
​Saturday 10:30 am - 6 pm

After dinner, check out the other half of the facility for unique cookware, local food products and gifts. 

If you are there on a Friday summer night, walk a block south on Pearl Street to the Bicentennial Park to enjoy the summer concert series free outdoor concert.

Historic New Albany, IN
Bicentennial Park, New Albany, IN
For other unique dining ideas, check out these places in Louisville.  I'm hoping to try them out in the future and will share reviews.
  • Cooking At Millie's Learn how to cook from local chefs and enjoy the fruit of your labor after, ~$95 for 2 people.
  • At The Italian Table Chef Gina spent 13 years in Tuscany and is now bringing the Italian flavor to Louisville via a communal style 5 course Italian meal at this establishment in the Frankfort Ave neighborhood.  She also offers demonstration cooking classes on certain days of the week. 
  • The Culture Club Presents There are many ways to enjoy international flavors with chef Sunshine Flagg: eating a communal dinner at her home with 12 other guests ($20), learning to cook at her workshop or bringing her to your house for a private cater meal ($250/12 people). 
  • My World Travel Co - Travel agency owner Katie Kubitskey and chef Colin Oliver host a monthly three-hour cooking class or a three hour dinner focusing on international food.