Checking in with the hostess downstairs and creeping up the external glass elevator 64 stories above Vegas is a wonderful trip, yet as inspiring as it may be nothing can prepare you for the scene entering the bar….darkness and firey reds out front with a glimpse of white in the back. Arriving early we traversed the bar and entered the white…or should I say the light? It is hard to say anything about the dining room that hasn’t already been said. From the beautiful and sparkling multi-million dollar kitchen to the brilliant chandelier to the view that simple begs to be oogled, the setting is stunning in all ways. Seated at a table of two with my back toward the ceiling high windows I almost felt envious of my friend until I realized I had a clear view of the hanging baubles and the glorious kitchen.
After a short wait our server showed up and provided us with menus and the best darn bread basked I’ve seen in some time; Raisin Almond Roll, White Forcaccia, Tomato Basil Spiral, Rye, Jalapeno and pumpkin seed plus both unsalted butter and a salted butter with chopped peanuts that tasted like the most decadent peanut butter imaginable. Sampling each bread at some point during the evening and requesting extras of the Tomato Basil and Raisin Almond, all flavors were wonderful and complimented different aspects of the meal quite well.
To my surprise, my friend glimpsed the MiX Grand Tasting with Wine Pairings and suggested he was interested. As my pal is not the world’s most adventurous eater this was fantastic news to me as I’d been eyeing the tasting with a few modifications myself – specifically, creating a menu of all-Ducasse classics as opposed to the “MiX” of Ducasse items and plates specific to MiX on the tasting. The waiter assured me this would be no problem and didn’t even mind if my friend and I ordered different mains and desserts. Top notch! Not being a wine drinkier myself I will simply note here that my friend stated ALL of the wines were excellently paired and I was extremely impressed by the knowledge of not only the Sommelier, but the waiter himself who discussed Rieslings and Ice Wines with my friend with a great degree of expertise. All told my friend received 6 solid pours for $75 and was very pleased.
“Amuse Bouche” - eggplant Caviar w/tuna picatta, crispy chip – A small blend of tender eggplant and spicy tuna plus a crispy triangle for dipping, this was a wonderful taste to begin the evening. Barely spicy with hints of tomato and basil, the texture was like a creamy tuna salad without the mayo.
Dish 4: ROASTED MAINE LOBSTER “AU CURRY”, COCONUT BASMATI RICE, PINEAPPLE, RAISIN, AND PEARL ONIONS – Quite frankly I’ve no idea what Ducasse was thinking when he prepared this dish the first time, but the thought it was certainly inspired by a muse or a God. To be fair, the curry was understated so anyone ordering this for heat will be disappointed…..I didn’t order for heat. What I ordered it for was a fantastically prepared lobster served over sweet sticky rice and complimented by roasted onions and sweet fruits. While not quite as mind-blowing as the Lobster at Alex (which may be my favorite dish of all time,) this is the second best Lobster preparation I’ve ever experienced and it will haunt my dreams until I find a means to prepare it myself.
Palate Cleanser: PASSIONFRUIT AND MANGO SORBET WITH COCONUT LIME FOAM – Served in a Martini glass, I believe the phrase palate cleanser was invented for this dish. I don’t even like Mango and this item impressed me. My buddy did note that in addition to the 6 glasses of wine he felt like this was a bit too much fluid, but did note that the flavor and texture were excellent.
Dessert: BABA AU RHUM, MONTE CARLO STYLE WITH SPICED RUM AND CRÈME ANGLAIS for myself and the CHOCOLATE AND MINT “AFTER EIGHT” FINGER for my friend – While I’m not a drinker, I am a fan of rum cake and rank Mastro’s Buttercake amongst my all time favorite desserts. As this dish represents one of Ducasse’s most famous dishes I couldn’t pass it up. A small cake was served along with a pot of rum and a second pot of crème which was then reconstructed by the waiter tableside, first pouring a little rum and then a dollop of cream with further customization allowed for the customer. While not QUITE as good as Mastros, the dish was a beautiful compliment to the meal and left a warm feeling in my belly for the rest of the night. My buddy’s After Eight Finger, which I was allowed a taste of, was quite small yet given the potency more than adequate. Think of an After-eight or Andes mint….multiply the intensity and quality times twenty…..you’re almost there.
Madelines : To cap off the meal we were served four of Ducasse’s signature Madelines straight from the piping hot pan along with a pot of warm Nutella. While I realize the tradition of the Madeline has been carried on by both Stratta and Boulud, it is my understanding that Ducasse was first and though I’ve not tried Daniel’s, Ducasse’s option blew Alex’s out of the water. Moist, creamy, delicate, and perfect with the Nutella…despite my fullness I’d have eaten twenty.
All told, the food at MiX is nothing but the best…5 stars in all ways. Unfortunately, instead of being a 5-star dining establishment with 5-star service, MiX settles for excelling at the food and shooting to be trendy which creates the paradoxical “heaven and hell” feeling Ducasse stated he was aiming for with the restaurant/bar concept. As cool as that may be, I feel the two would be better separated. While many say “go for the view and skip the food,” I whole heartedly disagree and would put many of the dishes at MiX up against Alex, Le Cirque, Eleven Madison Park, Spago, and others coast to coast…but the service and scene leave something to be desired for the true foodie. All in all a great experience that I’d strongly recommend, just not quite as strongly as I’d recommend a few other Michelin Starred restaurants.
I will note, however, that if Michelin decides to start starring bathrooms, MiX deserves four...check the view from.