- Honey Salt
- 1031 S. Rampart Blvd., 445-6100.
- Daily, 11:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
Welcome to the golden age of local eating. Initially attracted to Las Vegas by opportunity on the Strip, talented restaurateurs and chefs have been making their way into our neighborhoods for years. Once you make Vegas your home, you understand what it needs and hopefully help build it.
In the past two weeks, this process has birthed two suburban restaurants on opposite sides of town that share a simple, ingredient-driven approach to American comfort cuisine, and, because of the familiar names attached, quite a bit of anticipation. After meals at each, I’ve decided the food lives up to any lofty expectations you might have for Honey Salt and Meat & Three. I can’t decide which one I love more. They are both casual, homey places designed perfectly for their neighborhoods, such that if you swapped their locations things would settle just fine.
Honey Salt, in the Summerlin-ish spot formerly occupied by Nora’s Wine Bar, has an airy dining room with faux brick, long green banquettes, reclaimed wood and distressed chairs. A handsome little bar is inviting opposite the open kitchen, where former Wynn chef Joe Zanelli holds court for owners chef Kim Canteenwalla (Society Café Encore) and his wife, the brilliant consultant and restaurateur Elizabeth Blau. Is it a little fancy? Yes, but it also has a kids menu.
Meat & Three has wooden tables, too, built by chef/owner Chris Herrin, who opened the acclaimed Bread & Butter bakery and café in the same Anthem-area shopping center last year. There are also wooden pallets painted with funny song lyrics hanging on warm blue walls, and a long communal table in the center of the room. Herrin may have taken the DIY approach, but his background is equally impressive; he ran the bakery at Bouchon for years and brought another former Bouchon chef, Brian Lafferty (also from Alizé) to run the kitchen at Meat & Three.
- Meat & Three
- 10940 S. Eastern Ave., 473-5577.
- Daily, 3-9 p.m.
The menu is simple here, inspired by a trip to Tennessee where Herrin fell in love with Southern-style restaurants. Choose your meat, select three sides, and enjoy your dinner (for the way-too-low price of $14.95). The fried chicken is heavenly, the moist, fatty brisket might be better, and the porchetta will have you singing those song lyrics on the wall. Sides range from standards like black-eyed peas or green beans with caramelized onions to revelations like sweet carrot slaw with golden raisins and mint, crisp farro salad, and potato salad saturated with bacon and dill. It’s the greatest home-cooked meal you never cooked, capped with a strawberry shortcake or lemon meringue pudding cup. I would move to Henderson for this food.
But back on the west side we have Honey Salt, where you can lunch on fried clams and calamari mixed with shishito peppers, a Caesar salad with black garlic dressing and kale instead of romaine lettuce, or pepper-crusted steak frites with yogurt creamed spinach. Switch to seafood for dinner, starting with a delicate yellowtail crudo ($14) with jicama, radish and cilantro, and ending with perfectly seared scallops over vanilla bean cauliflower puree ($28). There’s a great burger and an even better steak, a filet over potato-bacon hash. If it’s possible to serve hearty yet healthful food, this team has the formula.
Honey Salt’s desserts, by consulting pastry chef Justin Nilson, are mind-blowing. Apple pie baked in a brown bag, warm bread pudding in bourbon-toffee sauce, salted caramel-chunk ice cream and layer cake laced with fudge, banana and brown sugar buttercream are all deserving of your attention and extra coffee.
They share a few traits, but there is no comparing these two new restaurants. There should be only grateful appreciation, thankfulness for their existence. They are gifts for and by the people who live here.
Chicken vs. Chicken
It’s uncommon for me to write: This great new restaurant opened and ohmigod you have to try the chicken. But here we are. The early results are in, and the most recommended and talked-about dishes at these two great new restaurants are takes on the common yardbird.
Honey Salt’s has a long name: Mary’s free-range brick oven chicken. It’s a perfectly portioned, ridiculously tender breast with crisped, peppery skin, perched on a bed of kale and Anaheim pepper macaroni and cheese. It’s a simple meal you would cook at home, but yours never turns out this good.
Meat & Three’s fried chicken has the crunchiest buttermilk crust I’ve ever encountered, also something home cooks shoot for and miss. The best fried chicken always makes the meat taste richer than it should through some sort of secret soul-food osmosis. You could happily eat both of these dishes every day, but M&3’s is the one you’ll absolutely crave.