Sparrow + Wolf
German Slurpee – Tito’s Vodka, Riesling, Thyme, Peach
Violet Beauregarde – Barsol Pisco, Lemon, Blueberry, Green Tea Syrup
Ichigo Time – Toki Whisky, Strawberry Simple, Lemon, Yellow Chartreuse, Peychauds Bitters
Molly Ringwald – Mancino White Vermouth, Rosemary, Rhubarb, Lemon, Soda, Rose Water
Easy Peasey – English Pea & Mint infused Vodka, Lime, Chamomile
King Salmon Poke – Szechuan Chile, Puffed Rice, Thai Basil, Blood Orange
Beet and Green Apple Tartare – Kewpie Mayo, Lemon Gel, Cardamom Apple & Poppy Dressing, Toasted Nori with Matcha
Milk Fish Crudo – Szechuan Chiles, Roasted Grapes, Osetra Caviar, Fresh Fennel Pollen
Pickles – Radish with Fermented Sesame Paste, Kimchee Cucumber, Lotus Root with Fermented Garlic and Lemon, Fermented Mango with Lemon Honey and Dried Shrimp
Oysters – Lap Cheong-Shiitake Vinaigrette, Wasabi with Celery Root Espuma, Grilled with Cold Butter
Hearth Baked Sourdough – Seaweed Butter
Wood Roasted Maitake Mushrooms – Turkish Hummus, Cascabel Chiles, Crispy Sunchokes
Barbequed Salsify – Asian Pear, Maple Garum, Sesame
Foie Gras du Jour – Brioche French Toast, Rum Roasted Pineapple Cream
Wood Roasted Bone Marrow – Horseradish Mornay Sauce, Wagyu Beef Tendon, Parsley Root Salad
Sambal Chile & Brioche Crusted Grouper – Potato Pave, Garlic Confit, Ramp Butter, Grilled Scallions
Japanese Sweet Potato – Salted Plum Crème Fraiche, Miso Butter, Furikake, Scallions, Crispy Lap Cheong
Brussels Sprouts Robata – Jungle Curry, Crushed Peanut, Lime with charred Sugar
Beef Short Rib “Flintstone Bone” – Thai Sticky Glaze, Crispy Onions, Thai Bird Chiles, Fried Garlic, White Bread
Wood Fired Lasagna – Lamb Bolognese, Miso Bechamel, Togarashi, Burrata, Garlic Bread
Almond Cookies, Rosemary Blondies, Miso Toffee
Moon Rocks – Peanut Butter Semifreddo, Cardamom, Lychee
Lemon Soufflé Cake – Kalamansi Cream, Mandarin Curd, Sesame Tuile
Honey Toast – Cara Cara Oranges, Thai Basil Ice Cream, Caramelized Sugar
Panna Cotta – Black Sesame Pastry, Rhubarb Jam, Lemongrass-Pandan Oil
Lemon Poppy Seed Biscuits – Lapsang Souchong Cream, Macerated Strawberries, Smoked Powdered Sugar
Szechuan Peppercorn Chocolate Truffles
Rapidly approaching its one year anniversary, the tremendous opening hype justified for many while others have come away only modestly impressed, it was with yet another reason to celebrate that four friends sat down to dinner at Sparrow + Wolf on Friday, a tasting menu from Chef Brian Howard showing signs of growth and maturity to go along with the Restaurant’s unwavering confidence.
Overlooked for any national “Best New Restaurant” list and no longer the “hot new spot” in a city where that title changes almost weekly, Friday nonetheless found Sparrow + Wolf packed just prior to a 7:30pm reservation, the smell of a warm hearth welcoming guests at forty feet with additional greetings offered first from a hostess at the podium and subsequently by GM John Anthony.
Tightly packed and excessively loud, an overhead soundtrack ranging from mid-tempo thumps to The Doors added to a cacophony created by too much Alcohol and guests shouting to be heard above the din, it was mere moments after seating that a young woman approached to collect Menus as she’d been informed of the corner table’s choice to invest $125 each in a family-style Carte Blanche, Beverages coming in two rounds with the first happily seeing a return of last June’s German Slurpee alongside others with clever names included the fruity yet complex Ichigo Time and easy-drinking Violet Beauregarde.
Happy to adapt a menu to the group’s preferences, allergies or intolerances, a majority of the 150 minutes anchored by currently offered plates with additional daily Chef’s inspirations, it was together with an assortment of Housemade Pickles and Fermentations that course one was presented by Chef Howard, the King Salmon Poke immediately attesting to high quality product accented by acid and heat, this theme recurring throughout the evening but never redundant in the way other “fusion-y” places tend to be.
Matching the glistening cubes of Fish plus its crispy Rice vehicle to a second Tartare of Beets and sour Apples, the vegetarian affair easily one of Sin City’s best ‘Beet Salads’ as a result of both texture and taste, it was prior to three styles of Oysters that a true treat arrived in the form of Japanese Milk Fish flown in that day from Tsukiji Market, the flatly pounded specimen almost melting on the tongue beneath a light brushing of Pepper plus the sweet and savory interplay of Grapes and Caviar.
Graciously accepting Chef’s suggestion to raise the lights a bit, an oddly placed Blue bulb nevertheless casting a glow across diners and tablescape, it was fast on the heels of $5 Sourdough which has grown in size that the first of two hot courses arrived, the bowl of roasted Maitake Mushrooms mingling with Hummus and Sunchokes a bit earthy for some though absolutely beautiful in the eyes of others while BBQ Salsify was a crowd-pleaser thanks to its surprising sweetness plus tenderness akin to slow-roasted Pork lent a savory finish by Sesame and light charring.
Growing heavier henceforth, Howard’s Market Price Foie Gras du Jour presenting a nicely seared Steak atop French Toast with boozy Pineapples and Cream, it was an honor to be one of the first to taste Chef’s soon-to-debut “Beef and Cheddar” straight from the kitchen, its caramelized Marrow providing an unctuous backdrop to traditional Parsley Salad and fragrant Cheese Sauce with Wagyu Beef Tendon both top and bottom.
Here taking on two new Cocktails, Easy Peasey a bit too minty for most while Molly Ringwald is an easy Summer sipper, it was with five additional items that savories came to an end, the meaty Grouper straight out of Florida as good a piece of Fish as one will find anywhere on The Strip but with better Potatoes and saucing while the Short Rib will happily see guests wiping up its sticky remnants with “White Bread” Brioche, the same act of scarpetta likely to occur with Garlic Bread accompanying the crispy-topped Lasagna loaded with Bechamel and Lamb Bolognese.
Not forgetting skewered Sprouts or a Japanese Sweet Potato that redefines “loaded” by way of tons of umami given stability by housemade Crème Fraiche, the latter a personal pick for the menu’s best item, it was with only nine of the (jokingly) promised fifteen Desserts that Dinner came to a conclusion, the smaller bites highlighted by “Moon Rocks” that pitch Lychee as Peanut Butter’s Jam beneath a veil of Cardamom while Howard’s Lemon ‘Soufflé’ Cake eats lighter than most actual Soufflés in Las Vegas with a full-frontal assault of Citrus that will appease anyone who disregards Chocolate in favor of a fresh Fruit finish.
At this point well-sated but not ‘stuffed,’ Sparrow + Wolf’s lack of online menu prices no different than the likes of Sage or Aureole for similar portions and ingredients, it was in homage to its Spring Mountain address that the Kitchen finished with Asian accented Strawberries and Cream plus smooth Panna Cotta that saw an unlikely pairing of Black Sesame with Rhubarb, though neither were as memorable as Howard’s “Honey Toast” that tops caramelized Bread Pudding seasonally, this time with Cara Cara Oranges and warming Thai Basil Ice Cream that leads nicely into dense Chocolate Truffles with their own peasant Peppercorn sting.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS: Almost completely reinventing the menu twice-over in the past ten months, the nearly-deafening volume a lone complaint as shouting to hear ones date or having to ask a server thrice what is being served can be grating, there is no doubt that Brian Howard has found a style all his own on Spring Mountain Road and for the sake of Las Vegas’ local dining scene one must hope that the place remains packed and (ideally less) loud for many more years.
RECOMMENDED: German Slurpee, Violet Beauregarde, Beet and Green Apple Tartare, Wood Roasted Maitake Mushrooms, Sambal Chile & Brioche Crusted Grouper, Japanese Sweet Potato, Wood Fired Lasagna, Lemon Soufflé Cake, Honey Toast.
AVOID: Easey Peasey, Oysters with Wasabi and Celery Root. Also be aware that Milk Fish Crudo, Pickles and several Desserts were Tasting-Menu specials and Beef n’ Cheddar Bone Marrow has not yet hit the menu as of 5/1/18.
TIP: Currently taking reservations by RESY from 5p-11p Wednesday through Monday. Closed Tuesdays. Tasting menu available for $65 or $125 along with daily specials.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.