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.
In THEhotel at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino
3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, NV 89119