I've diddled around with Linux Mint before this. I have LMDE installed on the wife's computer, after her Ubuntu died, and she admitted that Unity was butt-ugly. LMDE just seemed the way to go, because we both have had more experience with Debian and derivatives, than with any other distros.
Her desktop isn't fully updated to Mate yet - and it may never be. She's been on it for about 3 months now, and she is happy with the "classic" desktop that was offered on her first log-in.
Since I actually read some techie stuff, and make a feeble attempt to keep up-to-date with developments, I know that the "classic" isn't going to last much longer. So - after my machine died, I decided it was time to investigate Mate and LMDE.
It took two attempts to get it installed. It was hanging, for some reason, at grub-pc during updates. Something finally clicked, the stars aligned, and grub-pc got itself installed. Here I am, after several hours on my new desktop with Mate - and I just love it.
The menu isn't quite what I expected, but it's near enough. And, it behaves the way I want a menu to behave, no matter how it's laid out. All my applications are here, or they are readily available. The desktop actually looks good, without turning on any special eye candy. Memory usage seems right - with ten tabs open in my browser, and two moderately large apps running, I'm using little less than half of my 4 gig of memory. I think that before I started any apps running, I was using only about 500 meg of memory - or that may have been after I opened Firefox. Whatever - it's much lighter on resources than some alternatives!!
I'm loving it, guys! The LMDE team has done one helluva good job, in my opinion!!