John Curtas is …

Bruno Riou is in the MIX

Open since 2004, Alain Ducasse‘s Mix has always had trouble being appreciated for being a serious restaurant.

Maybe it’s because it’s 64 floors above the Las Vegas Strip.

Maybe it’s because Alan Richman ate there in 2006 and pronounced it the worst idea for a restaurant Ducasse ever had.

Maybe it’s because it’s in Mandalay Bay — a hotel that’s had more re-inventions than Bruce Jenner’s face. Those in the know know that MB started out thirteen years ago as a tres luxe property, with Mix supposedly its crowning gastronomic destination. Since ’05 though, MGM-Mirage (or whatever it calls itself these days) has treated it and its restaurants like the red-headed stepchildren of the family. Instead of getting all the p.r. love and prime tourist pickins, Mandalay Bay mostly settles for leftovers….leaving its quality restaurants (of which Mix is clearly the best) to scrounge for recognition and customers.

It doesn’t help either that every time we turn around, we’re being introduced to yet another F&B V.P., most of whom have the life expectancy of a fruit fly in the position.

Which is a pity because Mix has always been very good, if under-appreciated, and now may be headed to the top tier of terrific taste destinations.

And because Bruno Riou is a serious talent…as is Pastry Chef Orady Ditgnavong…and between the two of them Mix may finally get the recognition it deserves for being a serious restaurant.

All it takes is one nibble of Riou’s amuse bouche — little crispy puffs of cheese and spinach — to tell you you’re in the hands of a kitchen that understands the balance and intensity great French food is known for.  We were less than thrilled when we saw chicken and coconut Thai soup on our tasting menu — knowing that most French chefs flee from spiciness like snails from salt. But this homage to the classic tom yum of Thai cuisine was refined, yet still maintained a serious kick. Our only complaint was there wasn’t more of it.

Things got serious with the John Dory “Meuniere,” a buttery plank of pristine fish garnished with baby fennel — in all, a perfect summer dish. Then came the NE3 pork belly, simply the most beautiful, lacquered piece of pig imaginable. It looked like a picture on the plate and fairly melted in the mouth. Think such beauty is possible with a stupid sous vide machine? Think again.

Eight years on, we estimate we’ve eaten here at least a dozen times (sometimes paying for our meal, sometimes not), but have never had anything less than precisely-cooked, lip smacking vittles come to our table. The profiteroles, baba a l’Armagnac and madeleines are worth a special all by themselves, and the talent in this kitchen seem hell bent on making sure that things keep getting better.

So the next time someone (even if it’s Uncle Alan), tells you that Mix is overrated or isn’t that good, you can tell ‘em from ELV that they don’t know what they’re talking about.

Because things are seriously good on this 64th floor…and getting better.

MIX

In THEhotel at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino

3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South

Las Vegas, NV 89119

702.632.9500

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7 Responses to Bruno Riou is in the MIX

  • What happened to the chicken and coconut soup picture? Please tell me you sneezed on on it and the kitchen didn’t send it out with the green stuff on the rim- i mean come on. Yes Mandalay Bay is headed down hill- they only focus on raping the conventioneers through outrageous banquet food bills. The hotel’s executive chef? the first female exec on the strip- Susan Wolfla– give me a break- she can”t cook squat and would probably burn a pot of water if she tried to boil it. haha

  • I hate to nit-pic, but just for the record, Mix was not part of the Mandalay Bay grand opening 13 years ago. Mix opened with Mandalay Place in 2003. The way you can tell? It’s in Mandalay Place!

  • Oops — I got that wrong as well, it’s in THEhotel.

  • yes- you are correct, its on top of THEhotel that opened in 2004.

  • ELV responds (to the nitpickers by nitpicking): We are perfectly aware of when everything opened in Mandalay Bay — since, unlike every other critic in town, we were actually living here and covering the food scene then.

    When MB opened in 1999 it indeed did not have THEhotel nor Mix. They came later (in ‘o4) and were supposed to be the icing on MB’s tres luxe cake. Unfortunately, the hotel was sold to MGM-Mirage in ‘o5, and all hopes of continuing a first class, Bellagio-like F&B program were abandoned in favor of a more conventioneer-friendly (read:cheaper) product.

    ELV sees how the sentence could be read as Mix being at MB since ’99, and hopes this clarifies his statement.

  • of course it will shortly be The Delano . . . or THE Delano not to be confused with The D downtown

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