Hearthstone is very zeitgeist-y. This is neither a compliment nor an insult, just a statement of fact.
Everything about its menu is designed to appeal to those who know just enough about food to want something better than Claim Jumper and Panera, but not so snooty, well-heeled and demanding that they are willing to spend $200+ dinner for the really good stuff. In this respect, it is very much like the newly opened Therapy: an amalgam of middle-brow, consumer-friendly signifiers (pizzas, small plates, pastas, burgers, etc. etc.), all designed and executed by good chefs, not a bunch of accountants.
Brian Massie (pictured above) is the head honcho among those chefs, and his extensive experience with the Light Group (Stack, FIX et al) has made him a go-to guy when it comes to crowd-pleasing menus and updated, rustic gastropub fare like this spectacular beet salad, flecked with pistachios, honeyed goat cheese and lemon thyme:
… or this spicy (and we mean spicy) roasted clams with fennel sausage:
…or this mayonnaise-y steak tartare:
…all of which display Massie’s love of spiking classic ideas with strong flavors and tangy accents.
If there’s a weakness to the menu, it is in its cliched, all-over-the-map content. Want quinoa? They gots quinoa. Seeking ceviche? Satisfy your search thusly:
And if you have a hankerin’ fer sum hangar steak, well, Hearthstone can hang a good one on you:
…this one coming with real black truffle butter, and real truffle aioli.
Fake truffle oil (the bane of true gastronomes), seems to be all the rage with some of these something-for-everyone restaurants, and no matter how many scoldings they get from fussy critics:
…many still can’t resist the lure of a little profit used at the expense of their credibility. Thus do they bilk the hoi polloi into thinking they’re getting something luxurious, when all they’re using is a fake chemical compound. Imagine if they were spraying your steak with “steak flavor spray” (and asking you to pay extra for all that intense, luxurious “steak” flavor) and you’ll get the idea.
The article linked to above points out that that the truffle oil you think is so so sexy is nothing more than a petroleum by-product mixed with low rent olive oil. And the thing is, it doesn’t even taste or smell that good — substituting a dirty underwear/stale sock odor for the musty sexual scents of the real thing. Are we being overtly snobby about this? You bet your sweet bippy we are. Truffles — black or white — are the very essence of food snobbery and gastronomic quintessence. Reducing them to a whiff of gasoline-scented, metallic crud is like putting fake tits on the Mona Lisa.
The fact that a number of other new joints in town are still using it with abandon tells you just how far behind the culinary curve Las Vegas remains.
But such things need not concern you here, as Massie and his troops load their superb, wood fired flatbreads, chorizo-stuffed dates, and feta cheese-feted watermelon salad with enough formidable flavor to make you forget about the petroleum-coated, dirty socks in your pasta that you encounter elsewhere.
On a side note, we haven’t experienced Hearthstone’s “Whole Beast Feast,” but we understand it’s every bit the equal of the one at Bazaar Meat, for $100 less. ($420 v. $520).
As for libations, the shit beers (Bud, Michelob Ultra, Corona) are six bucks, and the good ones (Sierra Nevada Hellerweis, Lagunitas Pils, Ballast Point, Deschutes, et al) are all in bottles. That’s another way of sayng that the draft selection here ain’t what it ought to be. (Does anyone really need PBR, Stella and Pacifico on tap?) The good news is that the staff knows its brews and knows how to pour them.
As for wine, the list reads like a liquor salesman threw it together….in 2002. (Eating Las Vegas wonders just how many bottles of $185 Silver Oak, or $2,500 DRC, move through this dining room every night?) The list (like those draft beers) doesn’t come close to complimenting the quality or the ingenuity of the cooking.
On the other hand, the throngs who pack this place nightly (many of whom couldn’t care less about the authenticity of their truffle oil), are probably just fine with it.
ELV paid full boat for his first, rather rudimentary meal here, as was comped on his second superb one. Dinner for two, with a couple of drinks, should run you around a Benjamin.
In the Red Rock Hotel and Casino
11011 West Charleston Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89135