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Tara Ariano

S02.E01: Meson de Mesilla

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In the Season 2 premiere, Ramsay checks into a New Mexico hotel that's run by an owner who's more interested in singing than in managing the property.

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Gordon Ramsay is back to hate on incompetent hotel owners, revealing a love of Mexican people being Mexican-y, and a white-hot hatred for Cher. But the episode didn't get to you without some network interference, which we have intercepted.

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That woman is never going to change. At first I thought the chef was on some kind of wacky weed, but then seeing him on his food truck I realized that he can really cook if he's left alone to do what he loves.

This was filmed a year or more ago. I found a review on Trip Advisor done after Gordon had been there. Here's the first paragraph, just look for the review titled...

“A Kitchen Nightmare”

Reviewed July 18, 2013

This is the restaurant that Gordon Ramsey recently did a show on for his "Hotel Hell" series. My wife and I decided to give it a try to see how it turned out.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g47087-d1516488-Reviews-or10-Meson_de_Mesilla-Las_Cruces_New_Mexico.html#REVIEWS

Oh, and in case anyone went to the kitchen to get something to snack on and missed it.... Gordon in a SPEEDO!! :)

Edited by cooksdelight
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I have a hard time believing the follow up - I just don't think for one minute that woman maintained changes, particularly when she started bitching about the changes to the pool right away.

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She didn't keep up with all the changes according to some of the Trip Advisor reviews and Hotel website. Menu serves mostly old menu and they went back to the bland colors in the hotel rooms. Callie serenades on the roof top and the linen table cloths have been replaced with beige plastic cloths. Reviews are mixed. And Callie has the hotel for sale for $2.85 million dollars.

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1.Gordon in a Speedo. Yes.

 

2. I knew she'd never keep the table clothes. I understand about laundry costs, but just go to the bare table. Much better than vinyl. Even McDonald's doesn't use vinyl.

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I have visions of Callie in a smoky dive bar somewhere one day, wearing a wig and dressed up like Cher.....singing badly, with a cigarette hanging out of the side of her mouth.

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She didn't keep up with all the changes according to some of the Trip Advisor reviews and Hotel website. Menu serves mostly old menu and they went back to the bland colors in the hotel rooms. Callie serenades on the roof top and the linen table cloths have been replaced with beige plastic cloths.

That is really disappointing.  The money she could make just off those pool parties and people deciding to stay the night.  So what if she has to hire a couple of teenagers to run the food out to the pool. Please tell me she did not repaint the trim beige, that is so stupid and pointless.

 

When they showed the one room, were the sink and tub actually in the one huge room with the bed?  I didn't see the john, but that's kind of weird.

 

I forgot the name of the young guy with the food truck but he was awesome.  Good for the show to get him a promotion.

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I have a hard time believing the follow up - I just don't think for one minute that woman maintained changes, particularly when she started bitching about the changes to the pool right away.

I was suspicious as well about the owner. More Gordon in speedos, please!

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During the show Ramsay said his people spent $150,000 upgrading the place. The owner said she had sunk $2.4 million into it. I thought 150k on top of 2.4 million wasn't out of line for an additional investment when you need to pull out of a tailspin. When Cali started freaking out about the changes, she seemed most worried about having to hire a few more people to handle the extra workload. One of the tripadvisor comments at the link given above by cooksdelight says they went back to vinyl table coverings because it cost too much to wash them. I don't understand how someone can invest almost $2.5 million in an establishment and then be afraid of hiring on a few more people to make things run smoothly. If they're not minimum-wage positions then they've got to be pretty close to that.

 

Anyway, Gordon cracking up when Cali began to sing was really funny to watch. I need to see that scene a few more times before erasing it from the DVR. "She does this all the time? It's not just because I'm here?" Hahahahaha. Good to see he's actually got a sense of humor. Oh, and I thought the speedo scene was gratuitous. He knew he wasn't going into the pool waaaay before he took off the bathrobe.

Edited by Tabasco Cat
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I'm surprised he didn't go more ballistic about the quality of the food, and the lack of a breakfast menu. That said, the pool menu sounded like a good compromise. I doubt people plunking down money for a boutique hotel in a nice little city will want to stay in for dinner when they can go explore local restaurants, but they would probably eat while lounging around the pool.

 

The Fox drama dial was turned down to a normal level relative to Hell's Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares. I hope they find us some owners to root for who are not total losers at running a business. The Ramsay-Fox strategy seems to be to find people who deserve to fail, shower them with money and obvious advice, and then pretend like the businesses will succeed.

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I couldn't believe Cali wanted her guests to sign a damage waiver when they checked in!  This woman is delusional.

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I don't know why she'd bitch about having to wash the linens. There's a service for that, if she didn't want to hire more people. Linen service is a lot cheaper than paying wages, going through all the hassles of that.

She lost two employees right off the bat, that's savings right there. If she would get off her butt and actually run the place.... but now that it's for sale, Gordon basically paid for whatever money she'll get in regard to the upgrades.

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Maybe New Mexico has different fire codes for commercial properties like hotel suites, but I'm pretty sure her insurance provider wouldn't be happy about the candles in the fireplace.

Read the TripAdvisor--of course she started singing again.

Gordon seemed of two minds here. Wanted his idea of New Mexican authenticity (DisneyWorld Tijuanaland), but changes room from beige to Kaley Cuoco/Penny's apartment on Big Bang Theory. He also thought the exterior looked like a prison. He needs to drive around more; it's either adobe or single wide mobile home.

TripAdvisor says one of the Ramsey dishes is "sea bass". Long-time American proverb: don't order fish in the desert.

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Once upon a time I liked that song.  Now it has been irrevocably rendered useless thanks to Caterwaul "Cali-oke" rendition(s).  How delusional one must be to not notice the very few customers present laughing and snickering during your one woman, one song set?  She thinks people called ahead to find out if she was singing was a good sign of her popularity.  No, dear.  They are calling to see if it's safe to come out for dinner and drink without their ears bleeding.

 

I was confused by GR's message re. staying true to the area a la Mexican cuisine.  On his numerous other "improvement" shows he admonishes the restaurant owners for being too similar to everyone else on the block.  He "researches" the neighborhoods to discover there's no "insert specialty place here" for miles around, and then tells the owner "we're going to be the only farm to table/vegan/gastro pub/steakhouse in town!"  If the lady was enamored w/ Tuscany or Italian, then do it better.  Get a chef w/ that background/skill (or train the nice lady she currently has in the kitchen).

 

The pool did look great, but I see those bean bag chairs being filthy and torn after a few months.  I think that outdoor "stage" was originally a cabana area before Miz Showbiz bought the place. Gordon just reversed it back to its original purpose. It looks like it was built to be a shaded cabana or maybe a bar area.  I'm sure Cali re-repurposed it as soon as Gordon left the driveway...probably stapled her precious plastic grapes to it to create a Tuscan pergola.

 

Even the cheapest motels serve some kind of breakfast!  It may be store bought muffins or danish, and a bowl of fruit along with carafes of coffee, but its something!  I agree that if she didn't like the cost of laundering tablecloths, she should have stuck to bare tables.  The vinyl looks cheap and it smells bad no matter how often its wiped down.  I will give this lady credit for not being a "dirty pig" though.  Overall, the rooms & the kitchen looked clean.  GR didn't find fault with her on those points!

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I'm surprised he didn't go more ballistic about the quality of the food, and the lack of a breakfast menu.

 

I didn't understand his harping on the menu needing to be New Mexican simply because the hotel was in New Mexico. Point- I live in the Southwest and let me tell you, finding a good restaurant that ISN'T Mexican is pretty hard.

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On the plus side, that 14 room hotel looked very nice (well built, well designed, well maintained).  I'll bet an experienced operator could take it over and make a nice profit, especially utilizing the pool like Gordon suggested.  I also didn't have a problem with the Italian restaurant, per se, but they should at least do it well and make it a destination Italian restaurant.

 

Cali seemed like a nice lady, but had this self-image of a world-class entertainer that was going to be her doom.

 

Gordon seemed like he does on the BBC version of his shows; much less enraged and more helpful and understanding.  I like this better.

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Cali was georgeous!! WHat the hell happen to her ?  I understanding aging but she looks nothing like her former self ?

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I was confused by GR's message re. staying true to the area a la Mexican cuisine.  On his numerous other "improvement" shows he admonishes the restaurant owners for being too similar to everyone else on the block. 

 

 

I think this is a probably a lack of understanding of Southwestern culture on his part. The locals will go to Mexican (or New Mexican) restaurants that have been around for GENERATIONS. It is truly impossible to compete with them.

 

Meson de Mesilla used to be the place to go (late 80's - mid 90's) when you wanted to go somewhere for a special occasion. The food was very good there. I don't think the hotel was ever anything much to speak of, and I remember seeing the pool with leaves in it even back then. Haven't been there since Cali took it over.

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I'm reading reviews about the show online and it looks like Cali went right back to 'her way' right after Ramsey left. She had a viewing party and a few pintas made to look like Ramsey.

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I will watch whatever show Gordon has on T.V.  I love this time of year when there are actually 3!  Sigh.  Oh, this episode?  Knew she'd go back to the singing, after all that's the career she wants, not a hotel.  I would like to know how she was able to pay over $2 million for this hotel.  She didn't have a singing career....

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So he pulled the "Stunning" card without five seconds or so of his first "candid" shot (when he's driving into the area). Shock!

 

Basically I know Ramsay is hoping this show will take off, since he felt Kitchen Nightmares was getting stale.  This is the SAME show, with more for him to poke his nose into.  

 

Of course, Hotel Impossible got there first, but I'm sure Gordon doesn't care (after all, Restaurant Impossible copied HIS concept).

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Well, that was pretty interesting, enhanced by the comments above.

 

--If patron loyalty makes it impossible to siphon any clientele from the established places with local cuisine, Tuscan's not a bad alternative.  A simple bistro menu would probably be sufficient for a small boutique hotel; guests can venture out for fine dining.

 

--That pool's the moneymaker.  Nice pool + bar = $$$.  Sell local pool memberships and give members a hotel discount.   (Encourages them to drink.)

 

--The vinyl tablecloths were DISGUSTING.  I don't even like to touch those things in the greasiest of greasy spoons--they feel slippery with other peoples' leftover goo.

 

--Always nice to see a treacherous employee and his bitchy wife get the boot.

 

But the main thing seems to be that Cali didn't really have an interest in being a hotelier or a restauranteur--she just wanted to be a performer.  Is there not some way $3M can make that happen?  What's the name of Countess LuAnn's music producer?

 

 

 

.P.S.  Speedo Ramsey holding in his tummy made me snicker.

 

.

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So he pulled the "Stunning" card without five seconds or so of his first "candid" shot (when he's driving into the area). Shock!

 

I chuckled when he said that too because of these forums! I wish he used more adjectives.

 

This was my first episode, and I'm not too keen on it. I like Gordon when he actually does cooking and this is very far away from that.

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If I was Ramsey, I would have said screw the hotel thing--only 14 rooms is hardly worth it.

But that is a good number of rooms for a spa.Get the pool area nice--poolside hot stone massage, no more worries about breakfast buffets and calamari and freaking sea bass etc., make smoothies and salads. Massage therapists, cosmetologists, etc. can work on a split/fee basis, bring in their own following. A 14 room hotel hardly justifies the cost of good chef, fully stocked bar etc. but on hourly basis for treatments it could be a moneymaker.

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I think this is a probably a lack of understanding of Southwestern culture on his part. The locals will go to Mexican (or New Mexican) restaurants that have been around for GENERATIONS. It is truly impossible to compete with them.

 

Meson de Mesilla used to be the place to go (late 80's - mid 90's) when you wanted to go somewhere for a special occasion. The food was very good there. I don't think the hotel was ever anything much to speak of, and I remember seeing the pool with leaves in it even back then. Haven't been there since Cali took it over.

 

Many, many moons ago I stayed in Las Cruces several times. There used to be a really good steakhouse there. Tegmeyer's or something like that. It was awesome. I forget the hotel where I stayed, but remember it was the first time in my life I ever had huevos rancheros for breakfast. I've been ordering them ever since whenever I get the chance.

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I thought Cali was awful - rude, abrasive, arrogant - but also kind of pitiable. "My mother was a bartender and she would bring me to work with her and I'd sing for the customers and they loved it and I loved the attention!" So basically she's still that little girl inside, desperate for praise and applause. Gordon tried, he really did, but I'm not surprised that whatever she agreed to under his persuasion was undone soon after.

 

And a 'cleaning waiver'? Really??

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All these shows make me happy I don't pay so much fucking money for a single dinner or to sleep in a disgustingly dirty bed.  So I guess he's doing us a favor.

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Many, many moons ago I stayed in Las Cruces several times. There used to be a really good steakhouse there. Tegmeyer's or something like that. It was awesome. I forget the hotel where I stayed, but remember it was the first time in my life I ever had huevos rancheros for breakfast. I've been ordering them ever since whenever I get the chance.

 

The good steakhouse in town was Cattleman's. They had really nice prime rib. Gone downhill in the past decade or so. Tegmeyer's was decent - good place to get a soup and salad, and I loved their chocolate muffins. No longer in business, sadly.

 

Las Cruces has attracted a lot of chain restaurants in the past few years, probably since they passed the 100,000 population mark. People tend to either go to those or to their favorite Mexican restaurants. There isn't a whole lot of wiggle room for much else. Garduno's (chain Mexican) lasted about 2 seconds.

 

Meson de Mesilla, in its glory days, used to serve filet mignon, lamb, fish. The previous owners were in the wine business, so they knew how to pair a good wine with good food. Cali is wise to be selling the place, in my opinion, if she can find a buyer.

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That lady was a nut! I loved the scene with the chef standing there trying to keep her eyeballs in the sockets.

That kid David, was a doll! I hope he does well.

Ramsey in Speedos, no, not here. Maybe if he was in footie shape sure, but not on this episode.

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That woman singing made me cringe.  "Turn Back Time" only works now when it's a really campy, tonque-in-cheek drag queen.  Where was her family or BFF?  Someone should stop that right away.  However, a few people on the Trip Advisor link, upthread actually liked it.  As Mema used to say "that's why there are strawberry milkshakes."

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Hahahahahaha!!!!

 

From what I've read online, Cali has gone back to singing at 'every meal' and claims that guest will call up to make sure that she 'is singing' before they make a reservation.

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Hahahahahaha!!!!

 

From what I've read online, Cali has gone back to singing at 'every meal' and claims that guest will call up to make sure that she 'is singing' before they make a reservation.

 

This is exactly what she said on the show. Some people never change.

 

Someone up topic wondered if Cali has a family or a BFF, and all signs point to No. She spends almost every night singing and she doesn't get along her staff that much. She is not a woman whom receiving criticism and feedback comes easily.

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Apparently she threw a "viewing party"  Charging $60-$80 per person, and "everyone that came agreed with her that Ramsey was wrong and everyone loved her singing"

 

WTFever!!   I loved the looked on her face when that guy told her that he would pay her $100 not to sing. That was priceless! lol

Edited by Taylorh2
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I'm glad Gordon put the microphone in the ice, the guests there clearly hated her singing. Gordon seems nicer than he does on Kitchen Nightmares, I'm glad that old guy was fired he just seemed to spend his time fighting with the owner.

Edited by xcrayon2215x

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I'm guessing people DO call to inquire whether she will be singing that night.  If the answer is "yes, I am singing tonight" then the person doesn't come.

 

I had to rewind and rewatch Ramsay's reaction to her singing twice because it's so rare to see him genuinely laugh like that.

 

Was laughing at the fact that he had to take his robe off to look in the pool and determine it was still dirty.

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I actually think in several ways this episode illustrated that the show is often superficial and in it's own way clueless.

 

The puzzlement over the fact that the place wasn't making token attempts to overcome the advantage a million other places have at doing regional food is one point. Maybe the existing decor and implementation of the food was shit, but it seems like a typical Kitchen-Nightmares type shallow fix to simply insist the answer was to do what everyone else in the region is doing (and has a foothold on).  Seems to me the answer was to poll a larger group of potential guests and find out what might appeal to them, not implement changes based on some assumptions.

 

The singing was annoying sure, but the solution was sloppy, and it seemed to me unlikely to ever stop this woman from going back to it.  To me a real solution seemed obvious.  Point out to the lady that she could use the space after meal service under the guise of a free after-dinner show being a perk of their stay (or use another space on the property, like poolside, as a performance space).  This would have had the double effect of not only salving her pride, but also giving her eventual proof whether or not people like or hate her singing, because if made free to guests, and then none of them stay for it, then it should be obvious why (that if its not a captive audience then nobody really would be there).  

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I could be completely wrong, but I thought the point of the mexican food was that the people staying in the hotel are most likely going to be from elsewhere, and probably expect at some point in their trip to eat mexican food, so if the hotel restaurant serves tuscan they're more likely to look elsewhere for their meals.

 

That said, if a hotel can't be bothered to have coffee service and a few stray bagels, I'm going to be in the habit of eating somewhere else way before dinner.

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I could be completely wrong, but I thought the point of the mexican food was that the people staying in the hotel are most likely going to be from elsewhere, and probably expect at some point in their trip to eat mexican food, so if the hotel restaurant serves tuscan they're more likely to look elsewhere for their meals.

 

That said, if a hotel can't be bothered to have coffee service and a few stray bagels, I'm going to be in the habit of eating somewhere else way before dinner.

If the previous owners were in the wine business, then is that region a wine growing one?  If so, then the emphasis on Italian might make sense (although I'd imagine the climate in New Mexico would yield pretty different grape varietals compared to Italy).  

 

I guess the question has to be asked "why are/would people book a room at this hotel", and the answer in decor and food based upon that.  We don't really have the answer from what we saw of what their expected clientele is.

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I could be completely wrong, but I thought the point of the mexican food was that the people staying in the hotel are most likely going to be from elsewhere, and probably expect at some point in their trip to eat mexican food, so if the hotel restaurant serves tuscan they're more likely to look elsewhere for their meals.

 

 

I agree that it partly depends on who you think you're primarily catering to.  However, just cause I'm in New Mexico visiting doesn't necessarily mean I'm in the mood for southwestern food.  Sometimes you just want Italian, or American no matter where you are. Plus, surely there are dozens of other actual authentic southwestern food restaurants within spitting distance?  Because unless this hotel has an airport shuttle (which seems doubtful--plus, what's the nearest airport?) everyone who stays there comes by car, I assume.  So it's not like being stuck at an airport hotel with no other options for food because you have no transport.

 

I highly suspect Callie went on this show just to "promote" her "singing" in hopes of jumpstarting her "career," in the time-honored tradition of reality show contestants everywhere.  But the best she can hope for is an offer to be a Cher impersonator in Vegas, cause honestly her impression wasn't too bad--and there are people who actually PAY for that kind of experience.  But even that still seems like a long shot.

 

(Ok, I looked it up.  And apparently Las Cruces does have an "international airport" 9 miles from the city.  However, according to Wikipedia, it hasn't hosted any commercial passenger flights since 2005.  It's used for government, military, and private charter flights now).

 

ETA:  Oh, and "meson"?  Someone explain please.  It's not Italian, or Spanish, nor French.  I've put it through Google translate and the only language that came back with that word is . . . . Esperanto?  (Which, heh.)  What am I not getting?

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ETA:  Oh, and "meson"?  Someone explain please.  It's not Italian, or Spanish, nor French.  I've put it through Google translate and the only language that came back with that word is . . . . Esperanto?  (Which, heh.)  What am I not getting?

Thank you for taking the time to look that up.  I didn't get it either.

 

As far as whether Cali's singing is good or not, she has the first couple lines of that song down pat, but later in the show we hear her further into it and she was very, very badly out of tune.

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I keep singing it now too. AHHH!

Sing Oh My Darling Clementine to the tune of the Ode to Joy. If you're OK with probably going to hell, you can also sing Amazing Grace to the tune of the theme song from Gilligan's Island. It seems to short something in the earworm area of the brain.

 

ETA:  Oh, and "meson"?  Someone explain please.  It's not Italian, or Spanish, nor French.  I've put it through Google translate and the only language that came back with that word is . . . . Esperanto?  (Which, heh.)  What am I not getting?

It's a subatomic particle. I got nothing about why it's a subatomic particle. I suspect the owner is pretentious and can't spell.

Edited by Julia
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Yeah, I saw the subatomic particle definition.  It's the first and basically only definition that comes up in Google.  I mean, were they going for "maison" and didn't know how to spell it?  Is it a play on the word "mesa"?  I'm very confused.

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ETA:  Oh, and "meson"?  Someone explain please.  It's not Italian, or Spanish, nor French.  I've put it through Google translate and the only language that came back with that word is . . . . Esperanto?  (Which, heh.)  What am I not getting?

 

It means "Inn".

 

http://www.mesonmadrid.com/media/mesonmadridrestaurant.html

http://www.mesoneuropeandining.com/

http://www.mesonsevilla.com/

http://elmesoncriollo.com/

http://www.mesoniberia.com/

http://elmesonmexicanrestaurant.com/

Must be something funky in Google Translate, because a straight Google search (outside the translate thing) finds it if you search "Meson Spanish".

Hmm. And it could be the ó.  Google Translate may be taking an "o" in it's place as thinking you mean a different word (whereas the more broad Google search doesn't).

Edited by Kromm
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