July has been absolutely kicking my butt so far. How and when did life get so busy? The past week has had a particularly interesting and enjoyable bustle to it, however, a highlight of which was my meal at MIX Fresh Kitchen
Have you been to MIX since Chef Ray Bear
returned to his kitchen and overhauled its menu? He is back with a vengeance, friends, and once again challenging the status quo in Haligonian cuisine. You need to go see and taste for yourself, if you haven't been already.
I had the pleasure of trying the new menu with Saronn, the woman who is responsible for Happy Kitchen and the wonderful Cambodian food it produces at the Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market
. I wrote about her and her 'love curry' in an earlier post
Interesting would be one way to describe the food at MIX – unique, another – but fabulous would be the overall descriptor for the taste and look of these new dishes.
This is what I had to start: Local Big Eye Tuna Tartar, with apple-cucumber and grapefruit quenelle, avocado, avocado emulsion, rice paper, micro greens, and olive oil. It was paired with Benjamin Bridge Vero, from Tidal Bay, NS. The rice paper was such a fun touch to this dish: crispy with a splash of citrus, it really set off all the other flavours, particularly in the tuna and avocado.
This was Saronn's starter: Goat Cheese Ravioli, with ragu of lamb, mint and basil peas, green onion sauce, and pomegranate molasses. I was lucky enough to snag a bite and I have a sneaky suspicion I'll be ordering this next time I'm at MIX. Delicious!
For my main, I had the Quebec Duck Breast and Confit, with foie gras cake, sunchoke purée, salt and pepper pears, grilled green onions, pomegranate molasses shallots, and graham crumbs. It was paired with Wild Rock Pinot Noir, from Central Otago, NZ. This dish was a fantastic balancing act, between the melt-in-my-mouth and crispy pieces of duck, the subtle sweetness of the pears, the savoury purée, and the dense and flavourful cake that underpinned it all.
Saronn's main was the Organic Faroe Island Salmon with Seared Quebec Foie Gras, with warm truffle honey, arugula, fresh Nova Scotia corn, quinoa, baby carrots, asparagus, and carrot purée. I remember Saronn saying she loved the foie gras and hinted to our server that she'd like a little extra. Ha!
No restaurant can be fully assessed without taking advantage of each aspect of the menu, and this is especially true of dessert. At least, this is what I tell myself to justify the over-indulgence… each and every time…
I had the Brown Butter Cherry Cake with oat crunch and sour cream ice cream. Sour cream ice cream! The simplest things please the most sometimes, and this was especially true of this elegant dessert. I loved every last morsel.
Saronn opted for the healthier and extremely pretty trio of sorbets (orange, raspberry, and lemon).
If you want to take a closer look at MIX's new dinner menu and wine pairings, you can peruse it here.
Doing what Chef Bear does in Halifax is risky, but exciting business. I'm completely enamoured with this city and am not one to dwell on what Halifax does or does not have, but Haligonians do like their casual fare (myself included; everything has its time and place). Chef Bear claims to be going for middle ground with this new menu – not haute cuisine per se, more casual fine dining – but no matter what it's called, any lover of excellent, creative, LOCAL, and thoughtful food ought to support what's happening at MIX these days.
Go make your reservation, and then tell me what you think! Also, stay tuned for news on a little project Saronn and I will be working on together in the coming months…