Dishing With Grace: Light Group Kindles the Hearth, and Vegas Emerges as the Ninth Island


Say “Aloha” to the Honolulu Cookie Company at Grand Canal Shoppes in the Venetian

The Light Group has finally released more details about its first off-Strip restaurant, Hearthstone Kitchen & Cellar in Red Rock Resort, which is part of the property’s $35 million renovation. Executive chef and partner Brian Massie will offer an evolving selection of small plates meant for sharing, based on seasonally available ingredients from sustainable and organic local farmers, ranchers and fishermen. Attempting to create a neighborhood restaurant feel within a giant casino, the group will give Hearthstone a wood-burning oven as its centerpiece, a cozy outdoor patio and a private chef’s table enoteca, or wine cellar.

Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the world from Red Rock, there’s another renovation happening at El Sombrero Cafe, which closed just a couple of months ago after a 64-year run, amid a great deal of mourning by Las Vegans. Much to everyone’s surprise, a new coat of paint has been slapped on, and while the Downtown restaurant’s Facebook page has yet to announce the exact opening date of El Sombrero Mexican Bistro, the resurrection is expected to happen relatively soon.

Las Vegas continues its campaign to become known as the Ninth Island, thanks to large numbers of Hawaiians calling this desert their second home. The Honolulu Cookie Company said “aloha” last month in the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian with their signature pineapple-shaped shortbread cookies that come in flavors such as kona coffee, pineapple, macadamia nut and lilikoi (that’s passion fruit, for you haoles). The cookies are baked fresh on the island at 5 a.m., then shipped directly to Las Vegas, but if there’s enough demand, they’ll eventually start producing them here in town.

Also being transported from Hawaii are fish for Lakeside Grill in Wynn. Chef David Walzog has launched a program to import native species from the 50th state, line caught or trawled by local fishermen with whom he’s personally fished. The fish are packed in ice and flown over to Las Vegas a few times each week, keeping Lakeside Grill supplied with varieties such as opakapaka (pink snapper), uku (blue-green snapper) and ono (wahoo). (If this all sounds familiar, that’s because Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare has been doing that for years, except those fish speak Italian instead of Hawaiian.) The fish are roasted in the wood oven—the same one that cooks Lakeside’s selection of lobsters—and can be ordered with a variety of treatments, from a Mediterranean-inspired combination of artichokes, olives, tomato, celery and oregano vinaigrette to an Asian-influenced melange of pickled Japanese vegetables, grilled scallions, soy and yuzu. This might be the first multilingual fish you’ll ever eat.