Alain Ducasse’s Mix Las Vegas- A New Jetsetters Review
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We’ve been to Las Vegas more times than we can remember, and every time we try to have at the very least one very unique restaurant experience that will enchant our taste-buds and give us mouth-watering memories to last us until our next visit.
This past visit we decided to experience the legendary gastronomy of Masterchef Alain Ducasse at “Mix Restaurant” on the 64th floor of the The Hotel at Mandalay Bay. Having enjoyed the jaw-dropping view from the Mix Lounge many times in the past, we knew what a fantastic sight of the glittering Las Vegas strip would be afforded from this restaurant. We were looking forward to the view almost as much as the meal itself!
What we weren’t prepared for was the gorgeous beauty of Mix Restaurant itself – never mind the view outside! Entering the cavernous and airy interior of Mix Restaurant is an experience in itself, and you will have a hard time pulling your eyes away from the unique and fantastical interior imagined by Parisian Interior Designer Patrick Jouin. Crowned with 1,500 individually hand-blown Murano Glass “bubbles” cascading from the high-ceilings like a halo, you may feel like you have plunged headfirst into the bottom of a champagne flute, an illusion made even more real when one’s eye follows the fresh, white lines of thick columns soaring up to an immense champagne-hued mezzanine floating over the main restaurant. A wide stairwell leads up to the private dining deck for those who wish to be shielded from prying eyes or for private parties.
Cocoon-like booths suitable for groups of four sprout up like halved white mushrooms, and a good selection of intimate tables for two are ranged along the soaring two-story windows that showcase a different kind of spectacle – the Nevada Desert and the fantastical neon vision of the Las Vegas Strip.
Mix has won many awards since, including the impressive Michelin Star rating in both 2008 and 2009, and the fine French Cuisine tempered by American influences has something to appeal to almost any gastronome. Under the skilled guidance of Chef Bruno Riou, the signature dishes of Alain Ducasse are interpreted with a contemporary twist, and are beautifully executed & served by a profusion of skilled servers. The 15-foot-tall wine cellar holds an enviable choice of up to 7,000 bottles of fine wine.
We were seated at a really lovely table by the table, overlooking the amazing spectacle that is the Las Vegas strip at night. As I perused the eclectic menu a number of delicious possibilities attracted my roving eye. The Spicy Crab Salad with Guacamole, Heart of Palm & Cilantro, one of their signature appetizers, sounded good, as did the Big Eye Tuna Tartare with Mango Relish and Taro Chips. Steve fixated on the Tender Potato Gnocchi with Fresh Morels and asparagus and could not be tempted by anything else.
For the main course, I carefully contemplated the Roasted Maine Lobster “Au Curry” with Coconut Basmati Rice versus John Dory “Meuniere” with Baby Fennel, Heirloom Tomato and Summer Condiment, and Steve wavered between the USDA Prime New York Strip and the Boneless Rib Eye, two of his favorite cuts.
Finally, we made our decisions. I went with an Appetizer of Maine Lobster Salad with Quinoa & Coral Dressing, and Steve gleefully ordered the Gnocchi. For mains, I went with the John Dory “Meuniere”, and Steve chose the Boneless Ribeye. For accompaniments, we ordered Fork-Crushed Potatoes and Creamy Spinach.
As an accompaniment, we chose a bottle of Quintessa Rutherford 2004, deemed by our excellent Sommelier to be a good choice for both the John Dory and for Steve’s Rib Eye. The wine was decanted for us, and we allowed it to rest for awhile, choosing to each have a Kir Royale to stir the appetite.
Our Appetizers were extremely good. I always know Steve really loves his meal when he studiously avoids the temptation to offer me a bite, preferring to keep every morsel to himself. I did not get so much as a lick of the Gnocchi….. however my Lobster Salad was gorgeous, with tender slivers of my favorite seafood arranged artfully on a decorated plate. Steve’s Potato Gnocchi was also tender, the morels & asparagus complimenting the taste.
We were allowed to rest for a few moments before the next course, which we appreciated, and we took the opportunity to have the Sommelier pour our first glasses of wine. Quintessa is a relatively small vineyard from the Napa Valley, and their rich wines are comprised of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and smaller blocks of cabernet franc, petit verdot and carmanere grapes. We were really pleased with our selection, and as it opened during the course of the meal it got better and better with a rich, yet not overpowering quality and a crisp mouth-feel.
Chef Riou, who trained with Alain Ducasse for ten years in London, attributes his passion for cooking, as many famous Chefs do, back to his family roots. Enrolling in culinary school at 24, he worked in Southern France before moving to London, where he took advantage of a golden opportunity – to work at Alain Ducasse’s “Spoon”, where he was inspired by the availability of fine ingredients to work with. After 3 years he was awarded with the title of Sous Chef, and prides himself on helping his mentor to achieve three Michelin Stars in three years, an amazing accomplishment. Now, Chef Riou is proud to showcase his skills & artistry leading a team that is expected to produce some of the finest dishes available in Las Vegas, which is saying a lot. Amongst his many acclamations, Riou was awarded the GQ Best Chef in 2002 “Men of the Year” issue, and was given the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences “Finest Chef in the World” award in 2003.
Our main courses arrived, and my John Dory Meuniere was excellent, the rather delicate fish was not overwhelmed by the cooking method of being dipped in flour, sautéed in butter and then sprinkled with lemon juices and parsley. Steve’s medium rare Rib Eye was beautifully seared, tender and juicy. Our sides of Fork Mashed Potatoes and the Creamy Spinach were an excellent accompaniment to both the fish and the meat.
While our first choice for this dinner would have been to sit outside on the romantic 64th story patio above the Las Vegas Strip, our hostess had explained it was closed due to the windy conditions. We contented ourselves with glancing out the window as we enjoyed our meal, but we can only imagine how much better the experience would have been to be outdoors, floating in the sky.
Our dessert choice came next, and we decided to share the Profiteroles for two with Vanilla Ice Cream and Homemade Chocolate Sauce, one of our very favorite treats. The presentation was beautiful, the Profiteroles themselves just crunchy enough to be perfect, the chocolate sauce enough to be flavorful but not overpower or soak the Profiteroles themselves. The Vanilla Ice Cream was “to die for”.
All in all, this was a very enjoyable evening, with a winning combination of atmosphere, service, selection, and taste. We’d definitely return to Mix, Las Vegas for another dinner.