The Astronomer and I had a quintessentially Vegas evening on our final night in town. First, we attended a mesmerizing Cirque du Soleil show at The Mirage, and then we dined at a trendy restaurant at Mandalay Bay. After taking most of our meals in low-key spots off the beaten path, we were looking forward to experiencing all the glitz and glam The Strip had to offer.
Located at the top floor of THEhotel, Mix is the vision of Alain Ducasse. The restaurant serves contemporary and classic French and American fare, as well as signature dishes from the chef’s restaurants in Paris and Monte Carlo.
I was inspired to dine at Mix after reading a glowing review from fellow L.A. food blogger Weezer Monkey. It wasn’t until I made the reservation online that I learned the restaurant was awarded a Michelin star in 2008 and 2009. [The red book abandoned the city in 2010.]
A stunning 24-foot chandelier made of 15,000 hand-blown glass spheres was the highlight of the thoroughly modern and stark white dining room. As we walked toward our booth near the window, I secretly wished that I had reserved one of the hooded pods for novelty’s sake.
Feeling festive and indulgent, The Astronomer and I both ordered tasting menus. The Astronomer chose the five-course “TasteofmiX” menu created by executive chef Jason Arbusto ($90), while I ordered the four-course “Alain Ducasse Grand Tasting Menu” ($120). We were gonna go out with a bang!
A bread basket was brought to our table as soon as we placed our orders. On hand were slices of “cereal,” sesame, baguette, focaccia, walnut-raisin, and sourdough, along with butter and peanut “butter” for slathering. The breads weren’t as warm or memorable as I had hoped, but the playful peanut “butter” made up for all shortcomings.
Before the tastings officially began, the chef sent out an amuse bouche—a scallop tartare with an apple gelee. The presentation and composition didn’t look very enticing, but I went ahead and took a bite anyway. This amuse was definitely not amusing. The florescent green gelee was flavorless and unnaturally colored, while the diced up scallops were bland and questionably fresh. Grossest amuse bouche ever.
The first course from the TasteofmiX menu was a spicy crab salad with guacamole, cucumber, and green papaya slaw. It was an adequate starter, but we were expecting something a little more elegant and interesting at an establishment like this.
Fortunately, my first course was pretty close to perfect. The flawless little gnocchi were served with a sunchoke puree, Parmigiano Reggiano, veal jus, and beech mushrooms.
The Astronomer was much happier with his second course—a dish of butternut squash ravioli bathed in a brown butter emulsion. It was topped with a crunchy Parmesan chip.
The best course of the night was my roasted Maine lobster “au curry”, which was served atop coconut basmati rice dotted with pineapples and golden raisins. The hunks of lobster meat were tender, well-portioned, and paired extraordinarily well with the rich and creamy curry broth. I was thoroughly impressed with the dish and made sure to savor every last bite.
The Astronomer’s third course was a seared diver scallop with Swiss chard, green onions, and tomato. It wasn’t the most thrilling dish, but everything on the plate was prepared well.
My final savory course was a filet mignon served with a lobe of seared foie gras, black truffle, and a side of mashed potatoes. The plate was stacked with decadence, but didn’t contain anything to balance out the richness. Without a little something sweet or tart to provide further interest, I could only muster a few bites of the steak and liver.
The Astronomer’s lamb was served with a shitake gratin and stuffed piquillo peppers. The meat was chewier than expected, while the side items were tasty enough but seemingly out of place. The plate felt more like three different dishes rather than one cohesive entree.
To ready our palates for the taste of sweet: a tall martini glass filled with a mango-laced piña colada. It was frothy, refreshing, and the perfect anecdote to our heavy entrees.
The Astronomer’s tasting ended on a bright and light note with a lemon tart and mandarin sorbet. The tart was prettily adorned with grapefruit and orange segments and topped with a large slice of candied lemon.
My tasting didn’t end on such a successful note. I was instructed to assemble the baba au rhum “Monte Carlo style” by pouring the rum over the two slices of cake, and to top it all off with whipped cream. I did what I was told and didn’t like the results one bit. The moist and spongy little cakes soaked up the rum nicely, causing the entire concoction to burn on its way down. I like booze and cake individually, but not so much in this fashion. In retrospect, I should’ve just taken a shot and chased it with whipped cream covered cake—baba au rhum “college style”!
And finally, madelines served with a thick chocolate sauce. I appreciated the dish’s straightforward sweetness, and how it didn’t burn at all going down. It’s the little things.
Our meal at Mix was mixed at best.