Honey Salt (a revisit)

May 9th, 2013 by Erik Chudy

two burgers!I think there are many overrated restaurants throughout the valley, especially on the Strip. Several of the off-Strip locations that have opened in the past year have been getting lots of attention from the reviewers in town, some of which I may have been unimpressed by on my first visit. A perfect example is Honey Salt in Summerlin; I went a few weeks after opening and wasn’t thrilled with the burger or much else that we ordered. But the constant comments around town from other writers and friends has started to make me think otherwise, so when an opportunity arose for me to come back for another visit I jumped on it. Armed with the knowledge of what I’m really supposed to order off their menu this time, as well as the fact they knew I was coming all meant this should be much better than my first time. Right?

octopusI’ll skip some of my typical rundown as I did it once before and jump right into my meal, and will even get into some non-burger items for you. First off we had their charred octopus which is supposedly one of their top starters. The dish is several chunks of charred and tender octopus with an almond romesco sauce, patatas bravas and shaved celery. The star of this dish, aside from the octopus, is the amazing almond romesco. I don’t know how to explain it, but it was incredibly flavorful and an overall great dish.

scallopsNext up we tried a half portion of their caramelized sea scallops with charred cauliflower, vanilla bean cauliflower puree and truffle sauce. The scallops had a crusty, perfect char on the outside with a warm yet raw texture in the center. But again the star of this dish was the incredible vanilla bean cauliflower puree, which had a sweet flavor that reminded us of a peanut butter cookie for some reason. That puree, combined with the truffle sauce had us licking the plate clean long after the scallops were finished. Based on these two dishes we clearly ordered the wrong items last time, and it’s evident that this place knows how to make their sauces.

thick and amazingThis leads us to the main reason for our return visit: not one, but two burgers. First off is their special wagyu burger which is only available Thursday nights for the month of May to celebrate Burger Month. The Honey Salt Burger Month Burger features a hand ground wagyu patty, bacon jam, applewood and walnut smoked cheddar, pickled red onion and fried egg with house made potato chips. I think because we were there on a Saturday and they had to pull this together just for us, it was missing the chips and egg. But that was hardly a problem. The bacon jam may overpower all of the other flavors, but that’s not a bad thing as it is amazing. So amazing in fact, that our waiter brought us a little extra on the side for us to dip our fries in. It had a strong bacon flavor mixed with cloves and whatever else it was made of, and was certainly the star of this burger. The wagyu patty was cooked perfectly, and is of a fantastic quality meat, but maybe lacking a little seasoning. I know seasoning a meat such as this is a travesty, so please dismiss that comment as there was really nothing wrong with the flavor. It may be a little too thick for the average person (aka my girlfriend) but fantastic nonetheless. The patty literally burst with juices when we cut it in half, showing you how rich this meat truly is. The LTO were all good, as was the cheese. This special wagyu burger is not to be missed during its brief visit in the month of May if you can get there!

perfectThe second burger of the night was their regular menu offering; the Backyard Favorite Burger with beehive cheddar, tomato jam, a butter pickle and fries. The patty is reportedly made from Creekstone Farms grass-fed beef, blended from ground chuck, brisket and short rib, and has improved drastically since my first visit. Chef Joe has really done a terrific job of improving every aspect of the burger from a new and better bun, an increased helping of tomato jam, a fantastic cheese, and more importantly a well-seasoned and flavorful patty. My complaint last time was that all of the ingredients were good, but there weren’t any standout flavors, and it couldn’t be more different now. This burger should have been included in my tournament, and Chef deserves a lot of credit for continuing to work on this until he got it right. The new bun was more flavorful, flaky and well-proportioned. The tomato jam was much more noticeable than before, and had a great sweet flavor to it. The cheese was sweet, almost smoky, thick and added great flavor to the assembly. But the star of this one was the patty; which finally had great seasoning, subtle char, and most importantly stand-out flavor. We spoke with Chef after our meal to discuss the burger; he said that they did a blind taste test of many variations until this particular recipe was chosen, and a smart choice it was. Where this burger failed for me before, it stood out this time around and I couldn’t be happier about it.

The fries seemed mostly unchanged since last time, but that isn’t a problem as I thought they were really good during my first visit; skinny fries cooked well, with the skin still on. They stayed flavorful and crispy even long after they got cold, and never got a foul oily taste. If you’re there for one of the late night Thursday special burger this month, see if you can get a little extra side of the bacon jam as it made for an excellent dipping sauce for our fries!

great presentationWe were also able to try the salted caramel chunk ice cream and bread pudding if that all wasn’t enough to eat. While the ice cream isn’t made in-house, which they fully admit to, it’s one of the best I’ve ever had so why try to imitate it? If ice cream could be described as crunchy, this would be it. It is still incredibly creamy, but the crunchy bits of salt and chocolate were perfectly balanced, and it was a great treat. The bread pudding was warm, dense and quite good, and totally recommended if you’re a fan of this dessert, but not recommended if you’ve already had two appetizers, two burgers and more at your table unless you’re ok with not finishing every bit of food at the table.

Overall this meal was drastically different than my first visit due to a combination of us finally ordering the correct items as well as the restaurant’s continued efforts to improve what they put out. And unlike last time, the restaurant was very aware of my presence, so I’m uncertain if that played a part in making sure everything was made exactly to order, but I definitely won’t complain as my love for good food will always play favorites with a meal like this. Ms. Blau and Chef Joe came to our table a few times to check in on us and converse on the topics of Boston, burgers and of course the Red Sox; I couldn’t thank them enough for the treatment they gave us. There is no doubt they pay close attention to the ingredients and dishes on their menu as they are certainly putting out some tasty dishes. Even given the flavor and quality of the food, I think the prices might be a few dollars high for a Summerlin location, but speaking just to the burger, I would gladly pay $15 for it. This burger, combined with its very close neighbors at Fleming’s as well as View Wine Bar, make this a competitive little area for some fantastic burgers. So if this burger is consistently as good as it was the night I came back, I take back what I said before and recommend you come try it. And if you have any free time on a Thursday night this month after 8:30pm, get in and try the special wagyu and sample that bacon jam!

Overall score: 91

One Response

  1. Elliot says:

    Ive never had the burger there, but have dined there 5-6 times. I always found the food good to very good, the desserts amazing (I wholeheartedly agree with the assessment of both the ice cream and the bread pudding), and the service excellent. Glad you gave it a second chance.

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