Dining out with the Harrises
The Much-Anticipated Sparrow & Wolf Opens and Finds Itself at the Top of Las Vegas Off-Strip Restaurants
photo by Scott Harris
It has been no secret that Chef Brian Howard is one of the best young Chefs whose star shines brightly amongst the world-class chefs on the famed Las Vegas Strip. This Detroit native has been right at home in Las Vegas for many years and has proved his culinary skills with some of the city’s premiere dining establishments including Bouchon, Alize, the former CatHouse and Lutece; and was at the helm at The Cosmopolitan’s Comme Ca just two years ago.
After moving on from Comme Ca, he made a determination to fulfill his dream of opening his own venue. Having looked for the perfect location for quite some time with disappointments along the way, he settled in Chinatown, literally blocks from famed mega properties housing world renowned chefs.
On a cool overcast afternoon, we attended a soft opening complete with a traditional Chinese lion dance that blessed the newest dining locale in Chinatown with prosperity and peace. Walking in, we recognized General Manager John Anthony and Chef de Cuisine Justin Kingsley Hall, both of whom are veterans in the food and beverage industry. The décor plays with stone and wood accents and communal tables that lend to a sophisticated but relaxed ambiance. We perused through the many vintage cookbooks and bartenders guides that are available to glance at above neatly stacked bundles of wood near the front hostess stand. We eagerly waited for our seat at the center bar and our chance to sample one of the signature cocktails and several menu items.
People have asked us how we would describe the menu. Having been at this newest Vegas hot spot numerous times, we would have to say it is American cuisine drawing from the past, extremely well executed showcasing Chef Howard’s culinary ability to translate the best sourced ingredients into an interesting and thoughtful menu that reflects cultural diversity and his own Midwestern roots. Being in Chinatown, Chef Brian Howard’s creativity comes though with a melting pot of dishes that translates into a visual feast on the plate and the palate. “The menu features signature items based upon seasonality, with the ability to highlight dishes on a rotating weekly basis,” he said enthusiastically. “Our plates are meant to be shared with friends.”
The mixology program is thoughtfully designed and worth spending time sampling the many crafted cocktails that are sure to impress. “Seasonality plays a big role in the cocktail menu,” said General Manager John Anthony. “We will always have something fresh representing that style.” An ideal way to begin is the signature cocktail Get Off My Lawn, a perfect blend of Camus VS Cognac, Amari Blend, Maple, Cherry & Cedar Bitters. After taking our first sips, we began our meal with reverence to Chef Brian Howard’s well known expertise, Charcuterie. Even though there is a choice of two or three selections, we chose the “Full Monty” with slices of mortadella, prosciutto and chicken liver pate with grilled bread and seasonal pickles & mustard.
A touch of history is in order when you indulge in the Chinatown Clams Casino. This is not your grandmother’s version by any means. This new variation has an Asian touch with Lap Cheong, Shiitake Mushroom & Uni Hollandaise to top it off. The Butcher Wings are an excellent choice with Burnt Tomato & Nduja Vinaigrette that provides a flavorful finish. The Argentinean Red Shrimp dipped in Cascabel, Chile Butter, Samphire, Cilantro & Lime provides a delectable entrance into an evening of culinary surprises. The Beef Cheek and Bone Marrow Dumpling is a savory bite that packs a full-bodied flavor punch in a small bite, and of course you won’t go wrong with classic Sweetbreads presented with Grilled Romaine Hearts, Smoked Bacon, English Peas & Fond Blanc.
Sparrow & Wolf also offers a tasty Bento Box, which is a three-tier selection of premium oysters, shellfish, cured meats, terrines & seasonal condiments.
Chef Brain Howard’s Sparrow & Wolf was anticipated by many in the industry and has far exceed our expectations and is proving to be one of most sought after dining experiences in a city burgeoning with restaurant options. Because this is a hot spot, reservations are strongly encouraged.