Many dining buzzwords can get a little annoying—artisanal, gluten-free, truffle—but one that’s always welcome is seasonal. We enjoy seeing menus change to offer us fruits and vegetables at their best and freshest moment. But seasonal produce can be challenging in Southern Nevada, where spring, summer, fall and winter are reduced to “warm” and “surface of the Sun.”
“We don’t really have seasons here,” says Anthony Taormina, chef at Honey Salt. But he’s still finding a way to bring that type of variety to diners, developing and adapting menu items with an eye to the seasons—and to his own garden. “My garden is a jungle right now,” he says, “I studied square foot gardening all winter, getting as high a yield as possible.” The products of his garden are finding their way onto the restaurant’s plates.
“I bring my basil in from my garden every morning,” he says, rattling off some of the varieties—Thai basil, purple basil, sweet basil, ruffle basil—that are often scattered across heirloom tomatoes and soft burrata cheese. However, the dish and its ingredients are likely to evolve as we get deeper into fall and root vegetables. Taormina is looking toward using “several kinds of beets … pickles, dehydrated, candied, smoked.”
Basil from Taormina’s garden also livens up the Prosciutto Flatbread, adding a hint of green sweetness to Bellwether farms ricotta and grilled peaches. The saltiness of the proscuitto and the juicy, slightly smoky peaches create a perfect end-of-summer taste, but it’s another dish that will evolve with the available produce. “Pear is a really underappreciated fruit in the fall. People then are all about apples,” he says, noting that it’d make a delicious addition to the flatbread.
There have also been several new entrees added to the menu. Shrimp Scampi is lighter and cleaner than the butter-drenched, angel-haired standard—black tiger shrimp on bucatini pasta in a barely-there sauce, boosted with artichoke and tomato. Another seafood dish is the Pan Seared Cohiba, “one of the most sustainable fish in the sea,” according to Taormino.
The fish’s firm-yet-flaky flesh gets a light caramelization in the sear and is served on a bed of sweet corn succotash floating on miso butter broth, dotted with edamame and pepper. The third newbie is Chili Rub Pork Tenderloin, spicy-sweet rounds of pork with grilled peaches, and shaved brussel sprouts. “Certain components will change with the seasons. As peaches go out, I will pair something else with the pork,” he says, adding “probably use a heartier cut of pork.”
“I like to think we’re putting a great flavor on a plate and making it approachable,” states Taormina, who says he’s looking forward to continuing to tweak and adapt Honey Salt’s menu as we continue into the fall. “The seasonality of the food is important.”
1031 S. Rampart Blvd., 11 a.m.–9 p.m. Mon.–Thurs., 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Fri., 10:30 a.m.– 10 p.m. Sat., 10:30 a.m.–9 p.m. Sun., honeysalt.com