We pulled into an unassuming restaurant called “MIX” in Ithaca, feeling mystified and intrigued by what was awaiting for us inside. The plethora of multi-ethnic plates and bright painted walls cultivated an eccentric atmosphere and innovative dining experience.
Chef and owners Shayne and Mix Johnson possess the unique ability to intertwine cultures and cuisines while showcasing an impressive diversity of cooking styles. Unbeknownst to us at the time, we later learned this creativity awarded them the Tripadvisors Traveler’s Choice 2020 award, and we concur with that decision as MIX lives up to its name in more ways than one.
We were wined and dined by our server Emily who had palpable excitement when she learned it was our first time experiencing MIX. She was extremely knowledgeable about the menu and highly invested in providing a memorable dining journey. We placed our napkins in our laps and sat ready for this wild epicurean ride.
Whilst eating the complementary hot-to the-touch popovers with an unexpected cheesy filled center, we perused the vast and unique menu. Our taste buds were first tantalized by the Wanderlust moscow mules tasting of vodka, jalapeno, mint, and pomegranate that awakened our taste buds and remained on our minds long after the copper kettle cups were empty.
We then progressed to sharing plates of garlic butter shrimp and avocado toast-smoked confit with a grilled corn relish along with the prosciutto arugula flatbread with fig, walnut, sage pesto, and sundried tomatoes topped with a balsamic glaze.
Emily forced us outside of our comfort zone by recommending the Soulful Mac-n-Cheese, an atypical order for our group, but one that surprisingly left us begging for more. Cloaked in cheese, cracklins, and frizzled onions and served in a skillet with BBQ beef and jalapeno cornbread, this elevated comfort dish alone unquestionably commands another visit.
We enjoyed every salad, each large enough to share, but would highlight the much-loved Caesar with its surprising frills. The incredible roasted parmesan brussel sprouts were so delicious that we placed a second order after we received our dinners.
We loosened our belts and indulged in our exceptionally complex and utterly gratifying entrees. The sea scallops served atop penne or gnocchi with eggplant, plum tomato and baked parmesan was delightful and the accompanying chili lime butter sauce could be bottled and sold on its own.
The Delmonico ribeye steak was cooked to absolute perfection and the delicate, refined swordfish steeping in an aromatic thai broth was absolutely divine. MIX certainly struck the perfect “mix” of intrigue and flavor that our palettes craved and very much appreciated.
As we exited the restaurant, immensely full and satisfied, we were politely accosted by a patron who excitedly informed us that MIX also serves breakfast and lunch.
Needless to say, our experience at MIX was unconventional, unexpected, and slightly strange, in the best possible way.
MIX Kitchen & Bar
205 Elmira Road
Ithaca, NY 14850