An old Las Vegas institution, The Venetian (not the casino, but a local bar which preceded the casino by decades) closed a few years ago and passed into the annals of time as one of the unfortunate victims of the economy. In its place has risen Herbs & Rye, a local joint in every sense of the word. It’s been there for a couple of years and after stumbling through some growing pains, has apparently reached its stride.
Zach had been raving about this place, so we finally were able to coordinate our schedules and meet there on Monday night. What a treat!
Herbs & Rye is located just west of the intersection of Sahara and Valley View. It’s on the south side of Sahara. The building is rustic looking, and it’s not immediately obvious what the “theme” is. Even after visiting it, I’m still not sure, at least as far as the food is concerned. But the place itself is wonderful.
I joined Zach at the bar – ostensibly to discuss our Master Sommelier plans – and took a look at the drink menu. It is the most fun drink menu I’ve ever seen with its drinks based on old movies such as Blood and Sand and Remember the Maine, or classic cocktails such as Sazerac or Boulevardier. Never heard of them? Neither had I, and I’m an experienced and certified bartender. But that’s okay. They were delicious and served in coupe glasses for just a touch of class. They also had quite a few drinks made with that once-illegal liquor, Absinthe. The Green Goddess. Now there’s a history I can’t wait to share with you! Oh, and to all of you Absinthe fans – they also have the correct glasses for serving, too.
But it was the bartenders that got me.
Zach and I both have worked in places where everything comes out of the gun or the pourers are measured. Okay, I’ll admit to being a bartender geek. Watching the two guys work behind the bar was pure pleasure and showcased the art of mixology. Watching them muddle, whip, measure, stir, and shake was an absolute delight. Dressed a là the turn of the 20th Century, the only thing that was missing was the curled mustache. I compare a good mixologist to a good chef; he’s someone who knows his ingredients, preparation, best practices, and how the resulting cocktail should taste. A good mixologist can be as recognized and respected as any “celebrity” chef. Tony Abou-Ganim is a perfect example of a well-respected bartender/mixologist. We were there for over three hours and each of the cocktails that I had was delicious and expertly prepared.
We decided to get a Bruschetta to snack on since we stayed for longer than the planned hour. This is going to sound over the top, but this was literally the best Bruschetta I’ve ever tasted. It was a flatbread Bruschetta and was covered with tomatoes, capers, olive oil, garlic, mozzarella, and drizzled with a balsamic glaze. Now, I’m not too much of a bread eater, but I was greedy with this one. It was soooo good! I think the key – other than the obvious one of a well-prepared appetizer with super fresh ingredients – was the flatbread. The flatbread allowed the toppings to shine and made for a yummy, crunchy snack. And from the noises we could hear from people who were in the booths and at the tables – nearly every table was taken on a Monday night! – the other food items were delicious, too.
Will I go back? You betcha. It’s easy for me to get stuck in a rut and only visit a few places when I do go out, but this is a nice little neighborhood joint that could easily become a destination spot. Yes, even for tourists!
Herbs & Rye is located at 3713 W. Sahara Avenue. Its phone number is (702) 982-8036.