Looking to try a new eatery in Ithaca, we decided to visit Mix Social Dining on Elmira Road for dinner on a Saturday evening. The restaurant, open since August of 2016, is branded as a tapas restaurant featuring larger portions designed to be eaten by all people seated at a table. We were excited to taste the diverse menu and try their unique concept.
Mix is located in the building formerly occupied by Lucatelli’s, and it is clear that their ownership has completely revamped the restaurant’s interior. While the exterior still looks drab, we entered into a sleek waiting area and were seated in a well-lit room with modern finishes. College football played on a giant television, and many patrons sat at the restaurant’s several bar areas. Our friendly and proactive server welcomed us to the restaurant, and within ten minutes, our order was placed.
Before any of our tapas arrived, our server brought us the night’s complimentary amuse-bouche. The one-bite dish—a citrus chicken lettuce wrap—was served as a minced jumble of chicken and bits of green. The dish had an unappetizing appearance, but was spiced well, saving the dish.
Our first dish of vegan crab cakes arrived as soon as the amuse-bouche was removed from the table. Many online reviews included rave reviews of the vegan crab cakes, and we had to see what the hype was about. The crab cakes were spectacular—they were light, of the right consistency, and substantial, just like a real crab dish. The cakes were seasoned with a hint of citrus, and the dish was accompanied by an edamame bean salad and a tomato sauce. Shortly after the crab cakes were served, we were brought our side: pommes frites. They were as good as expected, and paired well with the garlic aioli that they were served with.
Next came the meat-based dishes we selected: garlic butter shrimp with avocado toast, and Italian meatballs with sausage and pepper arancini. The shrimp were presented well, with each sizable piece sitting on a small slice of toast topped with mashed avocado and kernels of Peruvian corn. The shrimp may have been the highlight of the night, as it introduced us to a brand new flavor combination. The meatballs and arancini weren’t nearly as pretty, but they still tasted great. While the meatballs were nothing new, they were stellar, with a slightly softer feel than we were used to. The arancini was slightly disappointing, as it contained far less sausage than expected, and instead was nearly all grain. While they paled in comparison to the garlic shrimp and toast, the Italian meatballs and arancini were quite good too.
The final dish—marinated sesame tofu—was decent, but not nearly as good as the other dishes we had. The presentation included an awkward slice of unpeeled pineapple, and while the dish looked saucy and flavorful, garnished with sesame seeds, almonds, and a sweet and sour sauce, it fell short of our high expectations.
When we decided to order dessert, our largest complaint of the night emerged. After requesting the dessert menu, we had to wait a full fifteen minutes before our server attended to us again. This interaction was a disappointment in an otherwise stellar customer service experience. Our server finally presented us with a platter including all of Mix’s dessert options for the night. It was dizzying to hear the extensive list of items, and by the end of the presentation, we hardly remembered any of the choices that we’d been offered. We ultimately settled for a white-chocolate crème brûlée, perfectly browned on the top and smooth inside, and with a mixed-berry crumble served with vanilla ice cream, a perfect fruity pairing with the extremely rich crème brûlée.
Despite high prices, Mix Social Dining’s tapas menu is innovative and spans a broad range of cuisines, meaning that anyone’s tastes or dietary restrictions can be accommodated. We would recommend that you go with a large group to split the cost and to try as many menu items as possible. Overall, we had a very pleasant experience at Mix, and would recommend it to anybody wanting to try a new restaurant in the Ithaca area.