Friday’s news that the beloved Rosemary’s Restaurant is set for reincarnation in 2014 contributed an exciting mini-spark for the off-Strip dining scene. (That’s a long time to wait.) Much more electrifying—and arriving in just weeks—is Honey Salt.
The thought of successful Strip chefs and/or restaurateurs creating a Las Vegas neighborhood venue always generates anticipation. That is, after all, the story of Rosemary’s, and countless other local favorites. But Honey Salt is different. Set to take over the Summerlin-area space that formerly housed Nora’s Wine Bar & Osteria at the corner of Rampart and Charleston boulevards, this casual American concept is being created by a Vegas dining dream team.
“We actually looked at that space seven or eight years ago, before it was Nora’s. But we just weren’t ready,” said Elizabeth Blau. “We had been doing our stuff on the Strip and were not ready to take on an endeavor in the suburbs.” Blau’s “stuff on the Strip” includes building the game-changing culinary programs at Bellagio and Wynn, and first bringing restaurants by Sirio Maccioni, Todd English and Michael Mina to Las Vegas.
Longtime westside residents, Blau and her husband Kim Canteenwalla—chef and partner at Encore’s Society Café—became regulars at the former Nora’s, which closed in 2011. “It was our favorite. Even our son said it was his favorite,” Blau said. “It was sad to see it go. And we kept hearing rumors of a lot of different people taking the space.” About three months ago, after hearing of a potential deal falling through, Blau and Canteenwalla threw their collective hat into the ring. They finalized things quickly, grabbing friend Joe Zanelli—like Blau, a New Englander—from Wynn to serve as executive chef.
Blau stressed that Honey Salt, planned to open in October or November, will be a true neighborhood spot, very casual and comfortable. “We had this idea. In LA or New York, there are these great, really casual neighborhood places that have great food, super simple, and didn’t spend millions on the décor,” she said. “We love to go out as a family, and Kim and I love to go out to a great bar that doesn’t have video poker but does have a great cocktail program.” The true inspiration for the restaurant is the entertaining at home the couple enjoys. Sometimes it’s a barbecue, others an elegant dinner party, but that’s the experience she wants to bring to Honey Salt.
The cuisine will be American, inspired in part by farm-to-table cooking, but the menu is still under development. “A lot of the recipes come from both our culinary inspirations. The food will be as much mine as Kim’s,” Blau said. “One part will be really approachable, one part will be healthy, and there will be the usual, decadent, delicious stuff Kim likes.” Honey Salt will open serving lunch and dinner, and expand into weekend brunch as soon as possible. How can you not get excited about the prospects of a great brunch in Summerlin, especially when this is the crew behind the brunchy offerings at Society Café and Simon at Palms Place?
This restaurant is truly a labor of love for this family, and that’s usually a great recipe for a neighborhood eatery. “Our son Cole is turning 8, and he and his friends are very busy writing a kids’ menu,” Blau said. “They’ve been giving drafts to Chef Kim and Chef Joe. They’re really coming up with some good stuff.”