Michael Bauer can’t quite put his finger on owner Joseph Humphrey’s vision for Dixie restaurant, noting that the “[r]iffs on California and Southern cuisine” aren’t reinforced in the venue’s service or decor. Bauer’s initial take on the food was mixed. He was impressed by menu items such as the fried quail, the king trumpet mushroom salad, and roast rabbit wrapped in bacon but was disappointed with the pea salad and halibut. Likewise, Bauer says the venue feels cavernous and awkward and the decor “impersonal and a bit corporate,” which don’t jibe with the sophisticated yet classic approach to the menu. Bauer also found the staff unfriendly but observed that the service improved upon each subsequent visit.
Bauer concludes his review on an up note, saying that his third visit, in which he tried the five-course tasting menu, was when Humphrey’s “abundant talents” finally came into focus. He describes the acorn grits with a poached egg and very thin coins of sea urchin as a “flawless blending of rustic and refined, of familiar and exotic” and “a thoroughly modern dish with a classic sensibility,” and the rest of the menu made for an “innovative and nearly flawless meal.”