Downtown’s new comfort-cuisine queen, the Earl is in the house, and King’s reigns in crab season

The Downtown dining scene will get a boost in a few weeks when chef Natalie Young, a veteran of foodie wars at Eiffel Tower, the Hard Rock’s Mr. Lucky’s and P.J. Clarke’s, opens Eat at 707 Carson St. in a space once home to a deli. Young is doing this on a lean budget, with reclaimed and gently used kitchen equipment as well as used furnishings for the dining room. But she’s not holding back on her menu of “upscale breakfast and lunch dishes.” Among the specialties, look for prime-rib hash, beignets, shrimp and grits, green-chile chicken posole and amazing pancakes. She will have the doors open by mid-September, barring any unforeseen glitches.

On the subject of glitches, I felt remiss in never having checked out Earl of Sandwich, which just opened a location in the Palms food court. So I stopped by for two hot sandwiches popular here, and was satisfied without being dazzled. The Original, a hot roast beef and cheese, was perfectly fine, but the cold cuts on the Italian lacked flavor. Elsewhere in the Palms is jumping right now, with Cathay House having recently been converted to Fortunes, another authentic Chinese restaurant like its predecessor.

The Fresh52 Farmers & Artisan Market opened Aug. 3 at Town Square, featuring locally grown, organic, sustainable and seasonal produce 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Fridays on Town Square’s North Main Street. Things to look for include fresh-baked goods, olive oil, spices, nuts and handmade crafts, along with the good produce.

Meanwhile, I passed a pleasant Sunday evening at King’s Fish House, where I noshed on white bean and salmon chowder, Parmesan-crusted sand dabs and the chain’s own take on a San Francisco classic cioppino, a shellfish stew made with red wine, tomatoes and lots of garlic. King’s (in the District in Henderson, 835-8900), a low-priced alternative to eating seafood on the Strip, has great variety and features a bar, a sushi chef and San Francisco-style sourdough bread.

Finally, being a New Englander fond of wild blueberries, maple sugar and fried clams (though not necessarily together), I often escape to the Northeast during the heat of summer. This year, though, I decided to visit Quebec City, the oldest city in North America, for the New France Festival, where I had all these treats and more. I dined in five top restaurants there, including Le Saint-Amour and La Traite, the latter being a First Nations restaurant serving such delicacies as seal tartare and cedar jelly. I only wish Andrew Zimmern had been along.

Hungry, yet?

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An award-winning mixologist at the recent Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards in New Orleans said customers imagine that bartenders get home after a long shift and somehow have the energy to whip up concoctions that dwarf even the most formidable craft-cocktail menu. But that is not so, he said. They crack open a beer. To paraphrase wine expert and orator Doug Frost at a beer-cocktail seminar earlier that day, I’m a tourist in the field of beer. I’ve been drinking it since I was a baby (true story), but I’ve never really made a study of beer the way I have spirits, cocktails and wine.