When Nectaly Mendoza opened Herbs & Rye in 2009, he believed his vision would resonate with Las Vegans, Field of Dreams style. What he created—a bar and restaurant that stayed open late and appealed to service industry workers and cocktail connoisseurs—took a few years to build a buzz, but when it did, people certainly came.
Nine years later, Mendoza is ready for round two. His latest venture, Cleaver (on Paradise north of Flamingo), specializes in “butchered meats, seafood and classic cocktails.” And while the focus is the kitchen, the libations—culled from different eras, similar to Herbs & Rye’s cocktail menu—are also top-notch. Try them (and sample from the food menu) during happy hour from 5-8 p.m.
Formerly Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Mendoza and company have transformed the 7,000-square-foot space, which features an ample bar, a dining room and a private dining area. The restaurant is beautiful and detailed, designed like a playful-yet-sophisticated man-cave, hung with giant portraits of Bill Murray, Chris Farley and other luminaries in 19th-century military garb.
The dining menu begins with a handful of starters, including a delectable steak tartare ($22) atop buttery sourdough toast. The foie gras ($29) is another head-turner, a unique variation on the classic French staple, served on a sweet potato pancake with blackberry reduction and crème fraiche. There’s also a raw bar that shouldn’t be skipped—order a half-dozen ($19) or a dozen oysters ($34), or splurge on a seafood platter ($75-$280).
The Cleaver Favorites section includes a sweet and robust squid ink pasta ($26) that’s similar to carbonara, and a seared sea bass ($29) served with pea and mint risotto and Spanish chorizo. But the butchered meats are where Cleaver really shines. The 16-ounce ribeye ($64) delivers a melt-in-your-mouth experience (go medium rare to enjoy the rich marbling), while the 120-ounce Cleaver ribeye ($390)—serving five to eight—is a serious showstopper. It’s a meal fit for a royal family.
CLEAVER 3900 Paradise Road #D1, 702-538-9888. Daily, 5 p.m.-3 a.m.