THE DISH: Sunday Brunch at miX restaurant
Published: May 16, 2012 (Issue # 1708)
Easy like Sunday morning
Brunch is usually not the kind of enterprise that aims to demonstrate the culinary philosophy of a certain chef or dining establishment. Still, with the arrival of Sunday brunch to miX, diners cannot fail to get a fair idea about the art and ideas of the renowned French chef Alain Ducasse, the Michelin-star-studded man behind the restaurant at the city’s W Hotel. To enhance the Mediterranean influences close to the heart of the chef, live Latina jazz is played by Yoel Gonzalez and his band.
This brunch is not immediately striking for its quantity. It is not the “two dozen types of seafood and three dozen types of appetizers” territory seen at other local hotel brunches, where loaded tables stretch far across the dining hall. However, after a bowl of Caesar salad with crab meat or toast with foie gras and apple compote, there is little chance diners will even be looking to stuff their plates. This is a different planet.
MiX’s brunch offers a laconic take on the genre, while making it as close to an a la carte experience as possible. The main courses here are taken from the miX dinner menu. The restaurant’s egg dishes and main courses are not displayed on the buffet section, and must be ordered through the waiter. Diners can order a maximum of one egg dish and one main course per person.
The cookpot of seasonal vegetables is one of four main courses. At first glance, the dish looks like a vegetable mille-feuille — fine, almost transparent slices of vegetables are layered in a circle, with the distinctive aroma of coriander clearly discernible. The dish has two layers, both very delicately cooked in olive oil. At the bottom lies the softer fusion of fennel, apple and red beetroot cut into tiny cubes and peppered with coriander. The upper level is a different cocktail of yellow beetroot, pumpkin, celery and turnips. Made with seasonal vegetables, the cookpot varies not only from season to season, but virtually every time it is made. This dish is essential to understanding the Ducasse gastronomic philosophy of making the most of the gifts of local nature and allowing every product to demonstrate its taste in full. No sauce is served alongside the pot — and nor is it remotely necessary.
Scrambled eggs with truffle bore a subtle truffle aroma — the dish would no doubt be more fragrant in the autumn when its key ingredient is fresh — and contained a welcome amount of black pepper for an energizing twist. Lamb shank served with potatoes, and roast chicken from the Leningrad Oblast — the latter was dripping with juice and served with French fries — were just as successful.
The extensive dessert section boasts fragrant strawberry mousse topped with grapefruit jelly — a zesty fruity contrast, certainly in unison with the upcoming summer season — and a meringue and nut cake, which was so light it would please the mouth of an elf.
Two members of our party had made previous forays to miX’s dessert section, and were raving about the restaurant’s unorthodox take on cheesecake. While they devoured the creamy marvel uttering moans of pleasure, this cheesecake is not for everyone. The runny dessert had a distinct aftertaste of sour milk. The problem was not the feeble texture — after all, who goes to an Alain Ducasse restaurant in search of standard recipes. But those hoping for an injection of glucose will find the sour milk note hard to stomach.
That sugar high did however arrive in the form of a warm pastry ball filled with Nutella, recommended to me by a male dining companion, sympathetic to the disappointment elicited by the cheesecake, who said the ball was so good that “it gives you a brain rupture.” It was indeed a very intense dessert, and, with its generous carbs and chocolate paste interior, a most masculine one, too.