At first glance, Henderson’s new 346 Patisserie (90 Stephanie St., 702-463-5115) looks like a quaint neighborhood ice cream store and bakery. But a quick perusal of the ice cream and gelato flavors reveals that there’s something more going on here. While the selection rotates regularly, on one recent visit they included chocolate anise, Szechuan, olive oil and Sriracha alongside such classics as dark chocolate, strawberry and French vanilla. (The Szechuan was surprisingly mild, but be careful with the Sriracha, which packs a serious kick.) Once you’ve sampled a few flavors and chosen your favorite—that’s when things get really interesting.
Chef Arthur Haynes prepares most of the dessert toppings to order in front of his guests using liquid nitrogen. (The shop’s name is a reference to the element’s freezing point of minus-346 degrees Fahrenheit.) The liquid vaporizes quickly when it comes in contact with air, providing a cool fog that emanates from the mixing bowl. More importantly, at about minus-320 degrees, it flash-freezes everything from berries to chocolate mousse. Haynes will then crack the mousse into rock-hard nuggets that quickly melt in your mouth, or pulverize the berries into a frozen powder that slowly reverts to juice atop the ice cream. Another popular offering is a sphere of ice cream wrapped in a flat sheet of frozen marshmallow, then placed on a stick and toasted with a blowtorch.
Haynes is hoping these small touches of smoke and fire, and the treats they help create, will pave the way for him to offer more innovative techniques. He’s a devotee of molecular gastronomy—the modern school of cooking that uses chemistry to transform food into foams, powders, spheres and other unusual forms—and the plan is to add those concepts to his offerings. But he’s not looking to push the envelope too far too soon. “I kind of want to move a little slowly with it,” he says. “I don’t want to scare anybody around here. I just want to show people that [molecular gastronomy] is just another way to prepare food.”
Haynes is a Las Vegas native who studied pastry arts at New York’s French Culinary Institute. He went on to work in Daniel Boulud’s New York flagship Daniel, as well as the Big Apple’s incarnation of Thomas Keller’s Bouchon. While they were expecting the birth of their daughter, however, he and his partner Amber Pappageorge (also a Las Vegas native and hospitality industry veteran) decided to move back home. And while the chef briefly took a position at Bellagio, their ultimate goal was always to create a space of their own.
“It’s a lot more fun,” Haynes says of his new spot. “You really see the other side of it. It becomes much more real. [At other restaurants] you’re in the back. You hardly ever see anybody. There’s a factory aspect to it. Now it’s become personal, and it’s a lot more rewarding.”
What are his long-term goals for the patisserie? “I’d be happy,” he says, “if we have enough of a following to support my passion for science.” Given the quality of what he’s already putting out, that shouldn’t be a problem.