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Haute Spot: Down to Earth – Honey Salt

By Aly Wagonseller

Farm to Fork. It’s as trendy as reality TV, and in a place with soil as barren as it comes, it’s likely to be just as counterfeit in terms of authenticity. How can a true Farm to Fork experience reside in a place where nary a cow moos or few quality ingredients grow? And while I realize that passionate people such as Kerry Clasby, the woman responsible for gathering produce and the like for the Downtown & 3rd Market, have experienced a fair amount of success in bringing the movement to Vegas, this isn’t Santa Barbara County. So after hearing all the buzz about Honey Salt, the newest addition to the Summerlin restaurant scene, I braced myself for what I thought would be a disingenuous themed restaurant  developed  by  two intelligent and seasoned corporate restaurateurs more experienced at sniffing out a marketable opportunity than creating a real deal home for an impeccable meal. I was wrong… so very wrong.

Worth the drive on the 215, Honey Salt is a neighborhood spot that feels big city, yet it somehow remains soulful and unpretentious. Profoundly more polished than most locally owned eateries, it fits into the new generation of restaurant trends based in New York and Los Angeles that exhibit strategically loud acoustics and lighting that’s just a bit too dark, so dark that the waiters pack flashlights to help patrons read the menu. That being said, the décor is exceptional and the service exemplary, with an open view kitchen that clearly runs like a well oiled machine. None of this is surprising considering the husband and wife proprietor duo of Elizabeth Blau and Kim Canteenwalla. For the past decade, Blau has been responsible for bringing many a celebrity chef and their restaurant concepts to our city, most notably with the Wynn properties and via her and her husband’s consulting firm, Blau & Associates. Chef Kim has travelled the world, feeding a passion for the craft of cooking, and even won alongside Kerry Simons on Iron Chef America. The pair has already opened their own successful gig on the Strip, the Society Café at the Encore resort, with Honey Salt fulfilling their desire to entertain local folks with the kind of food they serve in their own home.

Blau and Canteenwalla care passionately about the quality of their food, offering simple dishes that transcend basic ingredients into something tasty and enormously satisfying. The Burrata, Rosso Bruno and Teardrop Tomato Salad ($15) exemplifies this philosophy to perfection. The buttery creaminess of the cheese lends substance yet doesn’t feel overly heavy when paired with the bright, acidic flavors of the Rosso  Bruno and teardrop tomatoes. Fresh figs and a balsamic reduction add sweet elements, with fresh basil leaves and crunchy black peppercorns providing an aromatic finish. Clean, simple, amazing. Taking our server’s advice to eat anything raw, we opted for the Steak Tartare ($14), a refreshing combo of righteously chopped beef combined with pungent capers and sweet, crispy bites of pickled papaya. Charred pita bread toast points added an amazing smokiness and a backyard, home-style sensibility to the dish. Another winner!

Scallops and filet were suggested as fan favorites, but as we wanted to see what magic they could do with pizza and simple chicken breast, we chose the Free Ranch Brick Oven Chicken ($22) and Charcuterie Pizza ($15). The chicken was presented airline style, with perfectly crisp skin that preserved every last drop of juice in this typically dry offering. An incredible sauce that was thicker than au jus yet thinner than gravy added savory depth of flavor, especially as it saturated the rustic mac and cheese dotted with kale that accompanied the dish. Pizza was also well executed. Aggressively peppered, paper thin cured meats were rendered so crispy that they melted in your mouth. When paired with creamy mounds of fresh ricotta cheese, a subtle tomato sauce, crunchy fennel salad and a perfectly charred crust, it’s just one more example of how the best ingredients can transform the mundane into something truly special.

Farm to Fork in the literal “pick a bunch of radishes down the road” sense is certainly not feasible in our geographic locale. Still, the down to earth flavors that Honey Salt puts on a plate are much more than a fleeting trend. It’s what food ought to be and then some.  For reservations (you’ll probably need them), call 445-6100 or book online at www.honeysalt.com.



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