An attractive website and an interesting menu beckons the adventurous towards this relatively new Ithaca restaurant. When it opened a few months ago, The Sun found it to be lacking in several ways. With the advent of their new brunch menu and promises of improvements over price and service, we decided to give them another chance.
Located on Elmira Road, Mix is not in the easiest location for students to get to; a restaurant of its ambition might be better suited to the vibe of The Commons. Nevertheless, inside it is a chic little place, with lots of natural light and a variety of seating styles to suit your preference (you could sit at the bar, a high top, a table in the corner or somewhere more central).
Their brunch menu is an ensemble of several different categories- mains, Benedicts, sweets, small (sharing) plates and sliders. They recommend that you mix and match from these categories, though the small plates were what really drew my attention. In this category you can find an assortment of creative flavours and preparations that were all very tempting. The only thing stopping you from letting loose and ordering everything are the steep prices. My two dining companions and I finally decided to go with Bangkok Devilled Eggs, the Purple Sticky Rice Dumplings, the Duck Quesadillas, the Sriracha Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Hanoi Waffle and the Cannoli French Toast.
The Bangkok Devilled eggs were very good. They came with some tempura vegetables and a Massaman curry foam whose texture was a refreshing change from what you’d usually expect with Thai flavours. The tempura swamp checked all the boxes that you’d expect with a tempura — it was crunchy, it was fresh and it wasn’t oily, although it could have done with a sauce to help enhance its taste.
The waffles and fried chicken probably had the best flavours of the meal. The accompanying sriracha-inspired sauce had an exquisite taste and really sat well with the savoury Hanoi waffle. The waffles were the right texture and the chicken was both well-seasoned and well-cooked. Except for Mix’s curious decision to serve this dish cold, it was the best alternative take on the classic waffle and chicken that I’ve eaten.
The dumplings were also rather creative; they were batter fried on the outside with sticky rice and pork on the inside. The sauce that went with them was also nice: just tangy enough for your tastebuds while you get through the batter to the inside. If I were to nitpick, I’d prefer a higher pork to rice ratio on the inside but the jus that the pork and rice are cooked in has its flavours spot on and the rice had a nice bite to it so you could ignore the slight drawback.
The duck quesadillas were tasty as well, but when I see duck in the description I want it to be the hero of the dish. The flavours here were a little too subtle— I could have easily believed that it was chicken, which makes me question why they would serve duck in this preparation. Of course, this is a personal opinion, and those with more refined palates than mine could possibly enjoy duck in such a setting.
The French toast was sublime. French toast is a simple dish, but it also almost never done properly. Mix did it perfectly. There was just the perfect amount of crunch on the multigrain crust, and it was coupled with whipped cream, strawberries and chocolate sauce. There was a really nice balance here with the fruit and cream and it was a good way to end the meal. It was also one of the only dishes that had a reasonable serving size for its price.
The service was excellent; the waiters were very friendly and made sure we had everything we needed. Their strawberry mint water was a nice palate cleanser to make sure we approached every new plate with a fresh outlook. The atmosphere of Mix had also improved since the Sun’s last coverage of the restaurant.
The one thing, however, that hasn’t seemed to change is the affordability. This place is expensive. If you are looking for a satisfying Sunday brunch, be prepared to spend between 20 and 25 dollars. For many, the price could be a deal breaker. While I think the portions on the plates were just about reasonable, if they could cut down the price by 20 or 25 percent I think they would be getting far more business.
Overall, I’d definitely recommend this place as long as you keep a few things in mind: It’s not the kind of brunch place you should go with a set idea of the kind of food you want; there is a little bit of adventure associated with the flavour journey that you go on. I quite like the idea of a multi-ethnic menu which serves small plates and creative dishes, but it’s not a menu for people who like a little more direction in their meal. Right now, Mix seems to be in a place where they’re not quite cheap enough to be a must-try and they’re not quite fancy enough for the price point they have. However, judging from the previous review, they have improved since last fall, and we can hope to see more of the same in the future.