Think New York City circa 1990. The clubs are hopping, music throbbing and the velvet ropes define the line between cool and uncool, who gets in and who stays out.
Each person in our foursome went through this time warp when we had dinner at Mixx Ultra Lounge, the newest restaurant in Over-the- Rhine. I’ve been hearing that Mixx was going to open for so long that it had fallen off my radar and the recent opening took me by surprise. Originally the brainchild of Roula David and Michael Spaulding, who owned Vinyl and the tapas restaurant that was supposed to open in Neon’s old space (are you sensing a trend here), it turns out the this incarnation is owned and run by Julian Roder and DeBron Betts. And while the owners are different, Mixx sticks with the original intent of offering young hipsters a place to hang, party and maybe find true love. (There was a table tent about bachelor and bachelorette auctions, so who knows!)
Mixx makes a stylish first impression with the curved sushi bar in the front window and a water feature on the way to the dining tables of the first floor. We were seated near an odd little room that seemed destined for VIPs or lap dances.
Our server, dressed in black, was a little difficult to separate from his surroundings of black tablecloths, black chairs, black walls and a black ceiling. The second floor is a negative image of this, with all white and light wood furnishings and another lounge-like floor providing more space to mingle.
The server started off friendly and helpful — a bit on the extroverted side, he immediately connected with our friend (aka Cupcake), who has a background in theater. When he asked her if she liked her Long Island Iced Tea ($7) and she scrunched her face, he whisked the weak drink away and replaced it with one that blew her socks off, all the while scolding her for saying she was sorry. As time wore on (and it did, increasingly slowly), he seemed to forget us. Perhaps he was distracted by the arrival of shinier customers
I make a practice of asking servers’ opinions on the menu items. Ours assumed that we would be ordering from the sushi menu and showed us our order sheets and a pile of sharpened library-style pencils. He showed less interest when we moved on to the regular menu — an omen I should have paid more attention to.
The sushi was definitely good. Our party included people that had eaten quite a bit of sushi over the years, and Mixx’s offerings were rated highly by all. I particularly liked the asparagus tempura rolls ($5). We also tried the California Rolls ($6), the eel with cucumber ($6.95) and the rainbow rolls with tuna, salmon and yellowtail ($9.95). Other interesting choices are caviar options, tempura rolls and specialty rolls.
From the regular menu we tried the Sirloin Kabobs ($16), the Seaside Prawns and Pineapple Kabobs ($18), the Mixx Summer Salad ($8) and a mish-mash of appetizer dishes that included the Mixx Potato Casserole ($4), five-spice green beans ($4) and The Mixx platter ($13) with sliders, catfish nuggets and chicken wings.
Cupcake’s husband mentioned that he had been seeing sliders on menus for a while and asked what they were. Our ordering must have confused the server because Cupcake’s salad, which was her entrée, was brought out before the other entrées. Even so, it looked fresh and colorful with lots of field greens, strawberries, walnuts and mandarin oranges served with a raspberry dressing.
After what felt like an eternity, the rest of our orders came. And to be quite honest, it wasn’t worth the wait. The sliders (two mini hamburgers) looked pre-formed and were very dry. The wings and catfish didn’t go over very well either. The sauce on the wings was honey-based — much too sweet with an underlying and unwelcome taste I couldn’t place.
Usually I figure you can’t ruin anything that’s fried, but the catfish also had me making odd faces through the rest of the meal. The green beans were better in terms of flavor, but I’m pretty sure they were frozen — they had no crunch.
The boys weren’t much happier with their kabobs. The accompanying baked potatoes were cold and the kabobs went half uneaten.
The potato casserole got best in show for items from the main dinner menu. It didn’t present well — a pile of goo in a bowl, but it was tasty goo: mascarpone, white potato and sweet potato.
The owner and staff were very friendly, offering to give us a tour and encouraging us to stay and watch the vice presidential debate there, but we couldn’t have been more ready for the check when it came.
Definitely hit Mixx for socializing and sushi, but you might want to ease out of the mix if you’re looking for more standard menu fare for dinner.
MIXX ULTRA LOUNGE
Go: 1203 Main St., Over-the-Rhine
Hours: Lunch: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; dinner: 4-11 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday
Entree Prices: $7-$18
Sushi Prices: $1.75-$19.95
Payment: All major credit cards
Red Meat Alternatives: Salads, chicken, sushi
Accessibility: Fully accessible