ITHACA, NY -- In Thailand, it’s customary for Buddhist monks to give a newborn baby a nickname based on the day, date and time of his/her birth.
In the early morning hours of a not-so-long-ago Friday, December 25, Wanna Sutchai was born in Bangkok and given the nickname “Mix.”
She started working in restaurants when she was 13 years-old and her apprenticeship included training as cook, chef, server and dishwasher. She never owned her own restaurant until she opened Mix on Elmira Road in Ithaca on August 5, 2016, on the site where Lucatelli’s had operated for many years.
She, and her California-born husband Shane, whom she met in Thailand, immediately went to work remodeling to create the beautiful venue it is now. The carpet was replaced by a porcelain tile flooring, the unpopular hi-tops were replaced by faux marble tables and a new transparent bar display was created. After adding an additional outdoor dining area they now can seat about 200 diners in three indoor and two outdoor dining sites.
Mix offers a fusion cuisine with hints of Thai, French, Italian and American specialties on their extensive menu.
The most popular menu items are the half dozen authentic Thai Noodle Bowls ($13.95). They include a choice of ramen egg noodles or vegetarian and gluten-free rice noodles. I recently selected Gaeng Phalo, a five spice Daikon broth which, despite its name, is on the mild side. You can choose to add one of five proteins (from $2 Thai-style fried egg to $9 garlic shrimp). I ordered Marinated Crispy Tofu ($3) which was cut in large, meaty-type robust blocks.
Another popular lunch item is “Max’s Fine Fried Chicken” ($15.95), which is brined in a solution of buttermilk, chicken stock and seasonings. I selected it at a recent visit and received an attractively arranged platter of four pieces of chicken — breast, thigh, leg and wing — along with a Cheddar Hash Brown Casserole, a dish of Southern Creamy Coleslaw, Buttermilk Biscuit, and a Honey Hot Sauce. The entire combination could have easily passed as a dinner entrée — it was a lot to eat. The chicken was cooked well, not too moist and not too dry. The buttermilk coating was crunchy but came close to overwhelming the chicken underneath. I really enjoyed the textures and flavors of the cheesy hash brown casserole which looked more like a mound that had been put on the plate with an ice cream scooper than a casserole. The honey hot dipping sauce was, indeed, on the hot side, and could be a bit much for some readers. However, it is served on the side and I was able to use as much, or as little, as I wanted. I asked for butter with the biscuit and my friendly and efficient server quickly brought me a pat.
Four burger combinations ($14.95) are creative and interesting and the three salad offerings should please all palates.
At a recent dinner, I selected and enjoyed the Duck Confit ($19.50), a leg quarter with a crushed pecan and rosemary coating. To prepare it, the chef gives it a quick dip “flash fry” in the deep fryer to achieve a crispy outer coating and then finishes in the oven. Another time I ordered a dish that was unfamiliar to me. I like lamb and generally like spare ribs so the unusual combination of lamb and ribs in the Pomegranate Mint Lamb Spareribs entrée ($18.40) intrigued me. It’s hard to explain but the ribs were lean, yet juicy, and the pomegranate molasses glaze complemented the meat quite well.
Also at dinner there’s a “Butcher Block” with five basic steak entrées ($36-$48) with a choice of five different sauces.
The breakfast menu is extensive. There are 16 omelet choices ($9.95-$14.95) including dishes from Italy, Germany, Thailand, Mexico, Greece and France. There’s also a choice of nine buttermilk pancake varieties, a half-dozen waffles, vegan French toast, vegan crab Benedict, and vegan brown sugar oatmeal and many more creations to make an early morning more interesting – and fun. Saturday and Sunday breakfasts are very popular so I try to go on weekdays.
The wine selection is impressive — not because of its scope but because among the wines offered there’s an excellent selection of countries and appropriate grape varieties. If you prefer beer or cocktails, you’ll be happy too.
-Almost every food item is keyed with vegetarian, vegan, or gluten free identification…and there are many of all of these.
- Every breakfast and lunch item on the menu is available at the 8 a.m. opening.