TASTE: Nothing Broken Here

Bellagio’s new Fix offers whimsical dishes

Max Jacobson

The Fix is in, and everybody wins.

Fix is the new restaurant that took over the space in Bellagio that was formerly home to Nectar, and before that, Sam's. Three's the charm, apparently. Thanks to the great young chef, Brian Massie, and the stewardship of smoothie general manager Oliver Wharton, this once moribund space has become one of the hottest restaurants in Vegas.

Some credit goes to the snappy design. With a location between the sports book and north valet, thousands walk by Fix daily and are drawn in by its unusual appearance, completely open and visible to passers-by.

It looks like the hull of a 17th century ship, ceiling, floor and even tables crafted out of a dark wood from Costa Rica called padonk, specially imported for the restaurant. It combines the luster of mahogany with the red highlights of cherry. Beautiful translucent alabaster candleholders are on the bar and tables. The bar, always populated by attractive people, is off-white. Booths are done in luscious, beige-colored upholstery.

But it's the cooking of Massie, a protégé of Charlie Palmer who scored critical raves at Palms' N9NE Steakhouse, which is bringing people back. Many dishes are clever, whimsical creations utilizing what first seems to be gimmicks but which work so well that they make dazzling impressions.

Smoked salmon and ossetra caviar poppers appetizer comes propped up on forks planted on tiny stands. A side dish called Very Adult Fried Mac & Cheese turns out to be cylindrical, golden-crusted croquettes intended for dipping into a rich cheese sauce. Don't wrinkle your nose until you taste these innovations—both are irresistible.

Roasted tomato soup comes with a mini grilled cheddar cheese sandwich, high-level kid food, while the toothsome lobster roll is a cold, rice-noodle wrap served with a sweet-hot, red chili sauce.

The house Buffalo wings are delicious and look like chicken lollipops, with the meat bunched up at the top of the bone. Another favorite is tuna poke: sesame oil and seaweed-marinated chunks of raw tuna, served in a bowl with a mango-wasabi sauce and convex shrimp chips alongside. The idea is to smear sauce onto a chip and then add the poke. The combination is amazing.

One dish I can't resist would be the Bobby Baldwin Burgers, wonderful Kobe beef sliders, homage to Bellagio's famous boss, a threesome of burgers crowned with aged cheddar and grilled onions. With this dish, you also get spiced fries in a paper cone. It's a real meal and a great starter dish for three.

Main courses are often impossibly rich, and if there is one flaw to Fix, it is the difficulty in eating simply here. Lobster is "drunken," the meat and claws marinated for four hours in Myers's rum, then blanketed in a truffle cream, and finally paired with tiny, baked gnocchi wrapped in prosciutto. Massie's riff on surf and turf is indeed original: miso-glazed short ribs, hunks burnished to a deep bronze, paired with crisp, creamy lobster croquettes and making for an unusually compelling duo.

Of course, there are steaks, too, a Massie specialty: dry-aged meats like a 20-ounce rib eye and a 14-ounce New York, wet-aged filet mignon, and a 10-ounce Kobe rib eye. The wood-burning grill also does justice to a Kurobuta pork chop, tender meat gleaned from the famous Japanese, black-skinned pig.

A choice of creative sides includes that good macaroni and cheese, sautéed spinach, lobster mashed potatoes, caramelized summer corn and steamed asparagus, among others.

Desserts are as creative as the rest of the menu. I didn't dare try something called a bubble gum float, but I've had all the others, and all are winners. The favorite is three warm banana doughnuts, served on a metal rack, with a pair of dipping sauces.

Shake and Cake is a square of double-fudge chocolate cake, the kind with flour, with an espresso-malt milk shake in a small bowl along for the ride.

There also is an excellent, well-stocked wine list, a nice selection of dessert wines by the glass and an interesting list of brandy, cognac and Armagnac to have as a post-prandial nip or as the French say, digestif. You'll need something to settle your stomach after all this luxury.

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