Review: University-area Remiix appeals mostly to broke students and budding foodies

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PHOTO BY TODD LUSSIER

When reviewing a restaurant, it’s important to identify its target audience.

When my party of four — including a professional chef, an amateur food blogger and her husband of 25 years — walked into the relatively new fusion restaurant Remiix, it was obvious we weren’t the crowd it’s aiming for. Located just a few blocks from UNLV, the place looks more like a nightclub than a restaurant. The walls are upholstered in black leather, and hip-hop was blasting from the sound system. Obviously geared to a late-night crowd, the place doesn’t even open until 5 p.m., and its happy hour menu is in effect through 9 p.m. When we showed up at 7:15 p.m., we were the only customers in the room. I may consider myself a bit hipper than some of this town’s other food writers, but this place definitely reminded me that I’m getting old. (Thankfully, our excellent server was kind enough to ask for my ID before serving me a drink.)

Over the course of my meal, I also realized that age and experience have made me a lot more critical. Because this is exactly the kind of place I would have loved when I was a student still discovering new and interesting food in New York City. The menu is diverse, and changes seasonally. The prices are ridiculously reasonable. And the menu lends itself to sharing with a large group of friends. Unfortunately, after spending decades eating some of the best food in the world, my friends and I were all painfully aware of the mediocrity of our meal.

The single page menu at Remiix starts with a collection of nine appetizers ($4-$7), most of which are meant for sharing, as well as two soups ($6) and two salads ($7). The entrée section is considerably smaller. Its five options include spinach fettuccini with grilled chicken and a miso basilica sauce ($12) to a surf and turf of sirloin, risotto and shrimp ($18). Given the nightclub atmosphere, it’s no surprise the beer and specialty cocktail menu is just as long as the food menu. I was surprised, however, by the inclusion of several alcohol-free specialty cocktails — yet another indication of just how young a crowd the place is hoping to attract.

As good as the prices are on the main menu, the happy hour menu is even more bargain-centered. Six choices are available for $2-$4. Most are smaller portions of main menu appetizers, but in most cases they’re large enough to share. Well drinks and a half dozen of the specialty cocktails are also offered for just $2.

Given the low prices, my party ordered the entire happy hour menu and a pair of appetizers from the main menu, but skipped the entrees. My first impression: The presentation on nearly every dish was stunning, as were many of the garnishes. The buttermilk fried chicken skewers ($3), for example, were fairly bland. But the apple slaw and chili sauce that accompanied them were excellent. The same can be said for the kimchi that came with some otherwise disappointing kalbi-style beef skewers ($4), and the spicy marmalade and balsamic reduction alongside the otherwise tasteless ginger chicken dim sum ($3). The panko-crusted, fried baby bell peppers stuffed with cream cheese, bacon, herbs and candied nuts also drew a mixed reaction — they would have been really good if they hadn’t been slightly overcooked.

Some dishes did stand out, however. A small taco bowl salad ($2), proved to be surprisingly tasty. And a simple juicy cheeseburger slider ($3) was perfectly executed. On the flip side, a chicken slider ($3) was ridiculously bland, while an order of risotto ($4) was undercooked and peppered with tiny cubed veggies that only served to accent the rice’s unpleasant crunch.

All of that said, no one in my party would warn against a visit to Remiix. One guest referred to the restaurant as an “entry-level” restaurant for aspiring foodies. As condescending as that might sound, it’s a fair description. The chef offers people a chance to try new things, and lots of them, on a budget. Most are pretty good, and the flaws that lifetime foodies find notable might not even register to more casual diners simply looking for something a little different on a fun night out with friends.

REMIIX, 1800 E. Tropicana Ave., 262-5592. Read more about the Las Vegas dining scene on Al Mancini’s blog, www.almancini.net and follow him on Twitter @almancinivegas.