Wes Kendrick

After a wild ride early on, the chef and his sister have settled in at Table 34, which has become a Las Vegas classic

In 1999, the brother and sister team of Wes and Laurie Kendrick opened a small restaurant in an office park along Warm Springs Road. Within months, thanks to Wes’ new-American cooking and Laurie’s management and charm, Wild Sage Café became one of the Valley’s hottest lunch spots. In fact, it became so popular that they decided to open a second restaurant in The Lakes neighborhood. It was the classic restaurant gamble, and it left the Kendricks overextended. The new restaurant folded, and in 2003, it took the original Wild Sage down with it.

But there was nothing wrong with original model, and it wasn’t long before the Kendricks made their comeback. About a year later, as managing partners this time, they renamed the place after a lucky tabletop inside the first restaurant, added a bar, remodeled the interior and reopened as Table 34. They’ve been a hit ever since.

Wes got his culinary education working alongside regimented, old-school Italian chefs in his hometown of Redlands, Calif. “I just went to school in the kitchen. I placed myself with the best chefs in the area,” Wes says. “I called it ‘paid college,’ with a daily beating.”

Big sister Laurie, meantime, was moving up in the restaurant world. She worked at Postrio in San Francisco under the tutelage of Wolfgang Puck and soon was chosen to help open Spago in Las Vegas in 1992.

As the ’90s ended, Wes had become an executive chef—and exactly whom Laurie needed to help run a restaurant of their own. He jumped at the chance to work with his sister, and Wild Sage was born.

As a family-run restaurant, Table 34 has found success in a town dominated by absentee chefs. The refined American contemporary eatery has become a hidden gem nestled in the shadow of a large office complex next to a Starbucks, a nail salon and a day-care center. Like a truffle pig, local foodies have sniffed out Wes’ dedication to interesting takes on old favorite dishes, quality ingredients and his insistence on making nearly everything on the menu from scratch.

“It’s a melting pot,” Wes says. “There is a French flair, and I do a lot of grill work, but I tend to stick with the comfort food. We really pride ourselves on the quality that we’re producing here. You start with the best ingredients and it shows when the plate hits the table.” Fresh ingredients are the key to Chef Kendrick’s Chilled Summer Gazpacho with Shrimp and Avocado Salad—a light, cool dish sure to be a hit with temperatures in the triple digits.

Suggested Pairing

Laurie Kendrick recommends the 2008 J. Lohr Carol’s Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc ($18 retail) from Napa Valley, Calif. The wine is “light, crisp and fresh with citrus flavors and herbal undertones.” It augments the dish, highlighting its subtle flavors without upstaging it.