Here’s the thing I liked most about Honey Salt: One of us had the lamb Porterhouse ($32), the other a pizza Margherita ($12). And not only did the variety and flexibility of the menu make us happy, so did the way in which the dishes were executed.
The lamb was, suitably, a somewhat elegant preparation enriched by a bacon sofrito and enlivened by a balsamic reduction. The meat was a succulent medium-rare, full of Colorado-born flavor and accompanied by creamy, earthy fingerling potatoes.
The pizza, on the other end of the elegance spectrum, was appropriately rustic. It was a longish slipper shape, topped with judicious (which is to say not excessive, mirroring pizza in its purest form) amounts of sauce and cheese, each little square of fresh mozzarella topped precisely by a piece of fresh basil. The crust was stretchy and slightly crisped, the sauce soulful, the classic combination carrying on a winning tradition.
For those who haven’t heard about Honey Salt, I’ll point out here that it’s from husband-and-wife team Chef Kim Canteenwalla, late of Encore and MGM Grand, and restaurant developer Elizabeth Blau, so when I saw a menu item called My Wife’s Favorite Salad ($14) I figured it was worth paying attention. And indeed this was another example of successful interplay of contrasts in flavors and textures, the slightly bitter arugula and more neutral frisee (with very compatible textures) topped off with generous amounts of duck confit, pomegranate seeds and pine nuts, the whole crowned with a carefully poached egg that dripped its warm, unctuous yolk onto everything else.
We had been careful to save room for dessert and were pretty pleased with ourselves when we dug into the Brown Bag Apple Pie ($9), a nice old-fashioned version that had, indeed, been baked within a sort of brown bag, and served with a particularly addictive salted-caramel ice cream.
And we liked the rolls, square little whole-wheat yeast rolls, served with a bean puree dusted with cumin.
Throughout the whole experience, service was excellent. The waiters wear jeans, Chuck Taylors and plaid shirts, which give them a decidedly casual air, but here the argument could be made that clothes don’t affect performance. Our server had a healthy sense of humor but was prompt and efficient, refilling wine regularly, checking in frequently and just doing an overall great job.
Now we come to the atmosphere. It’s very pleasant, the wood-topped tables and slightly distressed chairs paired with the vaguely industrial feel of a white-washed brick wall and wooden floor and light figures and a multitude of mirrors that looked antique although they probably were skillful reproductions. Whimsical touches abounded, such as a rustic cart filled with herb pots outside the door and napkins woven with the restaurant’s name that looked like kitchen towels and worked just as effectively.
But here’s the thing. Elizabeth Blau has given advice to lots of restaurant owners, most no less illustrious than Las Vegas’ own Steve Wynn. But you’ll notice I mentioned a lot of hard surfaces and no soft ones; indeed, the only soft materials I saw were the banquettes lining the sides of the room and the light curtains flanking arched doorways. That means there was nothing to absorb sound, and on a less-than-packed weeknight it was reverberating throughout the space. It wasn’t loud music or even sound from the basketball games on the screens over the bar, or the hospitable sounds of folks clinking on plates and cups on saucers. No, it was voices, lots and lots of voices including a few fussy kids, and it all amounted to a lot of din. We could hear each other, but we had a very difficult time hearing our waiter, and we were on the edges of the room; I can’t imagine what it would be like in the center.
Not the end of the world, but a jarring contrast to what otherwise was an exceedingly pleasing experience. So consider yourself forewarned.
Las Vegas Review-Journal restaurant reviews are done anonymously at Review-Journal expense. Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at 383-0474 or firstname.lastname@example.org.