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Before I get to the food at MIX, and believe me, I love getting to the food at MIX, a few disclosures are in order. Despite my best efforts, I have never dined anonymously here, and have been comped by management on two occasions. The pastry chef, (Gregory Gorreau), who I considered the best pastry chef ever to hit town, long before I met him--has become a friend of mine. And I'm on friendly terms with executive chef Bruno Davaillon, and his right hand man Darren Brown. So sneaking in to MIX isn't something easily accomplished.

I even tried the clever ruse of taking both my ex-wives there (at the same time no less), as a cover. Yeah if you were there two weeks ago, you might've seen me with Food Gals 1-2 and 3, and Son Of Food Man (with his current Food Babe), all at the same table. I tried sitting with my back to the open kitchen, and not making eye contact with anyone-in the restaurant, not at my table-but was busted nonetheless-IF you can call receiving a bunch of freebies being busted. There was even some guy named Wynn at the next table, but that didn't help either.

I took my Food Gals there, because I wanted their takes on the look, feel and taste of this spectacular restaurant. Food Gal 1 rhapsodized about her duck breast with mission figs in an intense reduction sauce, Food Gal 2 dove into the fifty-five dollar filet like a trencherman (which is tough to do when you're five feet tall), and Current Food Gal did her usual picking and tasting off of everyone's plate-all while claiming how NOT HUNGRY she was. The service was flawless, as always, and by the end of the meal we had tasted almost two thirds of the menu. Everyone agreed that the side dish of elbow pasta with black truffle ham and gruyere was the ultimate mac and cheese, and the shrimp cocktail with wasabi horseradish and tomato syrup was the ultimate appetizer....although none of could fault the lobster salad, duck foie gras, or the tuna tartare.

A collective criticism was that the seafood dishes tended to be oversalted, but in my experience, French chefs always seem to oversalt. And in spite of the fact (which we didn't know at the time), that no one was paying--EVERYONE'S eyes popped at the prices. And while it may seem picky, the stemware for the champagne, was far below the quality you'd expect in such a top shelf operation. Current Food Gal, besides me the only one at the table to have eaten at the original MIX, thought the food lacked the ingenuity and sharply focused flavors she remembered from her New York City experience. While that may be true, Alain Ducasse and his chefs are no fools. they know their audience, and the demands of commerce, and all in all they've created a restaurant that's as good as one can be that needs to do 400 covers a night to make its nut.

They have brought some of the world's best ingredients, and talent to the top of Mandalay Bay, and MIX mixes the homey with the creative, with French flair and drop dead desserts that will make even your ex-wives happy.

Mix at The Hotel, Mandalay Bay 877.632.1766

(John Curtas ordinarily pays for his own meals at the restaurants he goes to.)