Breaking My Vow And Returning To Mix — Is The Grudge Over?
I had an interesting experience Wednesday night: my first dinner at Mix in nearly seven years. When I reviewed the Alain Ducasse restaurant in Citylife all those years ago, I commented on the “exorbitant prices, hit-and-miss food and poor service,” and vowed never to return. I’ll admit that my complaint about the prices was based on what was going on in Las Vegas before the invasion of other Michelin-starred Paris chefs. And today the cost isn’t really out of line with restaurants of comparable reputations. But I’ve never suffered such bad service or mediocre food in those places. So I’ve kept my promise, despite repeated requests from colleagues to give Mix another try.
My reason for the ban (and my two consecutive vetoes of including Mix in my book), was simple. My experience there was so bad the first time I wouldn’t risk spending that kind of money on another visit of that quality. And since service was my main complaint on that first visit – something I attributed at the time to the staff’s disdain for my appearance – going back as a well-known food writer and guest of the house wouldn’t give me any glimpse into how an anonymous customer with my appearance would be treated there today. So I’ve held onto my grudge, despite meeting Ducasse on a few occasions and finding him quite charming.
So why did I change my mind? Well for one thing, when Ducasse is in town and he extends an invitation to dine with him, it’s hard to refuse. And I knew that some of my good foodie friends would be at the meal as well. So I was a little torn about whether to accept. At first, I was relieved that I had tickets to see Jane’s Addiction on the same evening. But when they cancelled, I decided maybe it was time to give up my grudge – at least for a night.
The reason Ducasse had assembled a large portion of Vegas’ local “food mafia” (in this case me, Robin Leach, John Curtas, Beth Schwartz, Nikki Neieu and Jack Houston) was to introduce us to Mix’s new chef Bruno Riou. And I have to admit, the food was considerably more intricate than what I’d sampled there years ago.
I never review comp’d food, because I think it’s impolite to criticize a gift – even slightly. And because of that, any praise of the same meal, no matter how justified, will simply be seen as ass-kissing. So I’m not going to critique Wednesday’s five-course feast. But I will tell you that, overall, I enjoyed it. And I’ll tell you that my favorite dish was the Sautee Gourmand of Lobster with truffled chicken quenelles, homemade pasta and the first winter truffles I’ve seen this season. As for the service – well, obviously when Ducasse himself is seated at your table, along with some serious Mandalay Bay executives, things are going to be pretty close to perfect.
So will I lift my boycott of Mix? Or will I veto it again next year? That’s hard to say, and I’m glad I have time to think about it. Times have changed – and perhaps the restaurant has become more accepting of punk rock types than they were in 2005. Hell, maybe I’ve paved the way for my fellow freaks to eat at great restaurants. Or maybe my appearance wasn’t even the cause of my poor treatment the first time around – and I just had a chip on my shoulder. I’d love to send some tattooed, pierced friends in to try the place anonymously. But once again I’m worried about them wasting their money if their experience is as bad as mine was all those years ago. So I honestly don’t know how to handle the situation.
What I do know for sure, however, is that Ducasse is a gracious host, and Riou is a serious chef. And I want to thank them both for their hospitality. For now, I’ll leave you with that, as well as these pics. And if any of you venture in to try this stuff (and let’s face it, after seeing these pictures you’re going to want to), please let me know what you think.