Thursday, April 26, 2012 | 6 p.m.
Wise diners know it’s best to wait a few days or weeks to check out the restaurant that just opened in the neighborhood. Your excitement may lead to disappointment if the kitchen and front-of-house staff are still working out the bugs, and opening day may not be the best representation of the overall dining experience.
I broke those rules last week, but there was no disappointment to be had. I feasted on homemade pickles, decadent, sweet-and-savory oxtail chili cheese fries and the messy flavorbomb known as the Spicy Miso burger at the days-old Bachi Burger in Summerlin. I doubled down the next day, hitting Firefly in Anthem for a mighty lunch of bacon-wrapped dates, cheese-stuffed piquillo peppers, grilled surf-and-turf skewers in salsa verde and filet mignon sliders. Everything came out delicious, impressive considering it was officially Day 2 of operations at Firefly East.
Of course, expectations are a little higher for both restaurants, neighborhood favorites expanding into new territory. It’s not astonishing that these two first-look meals were satisfying, since both eateries have been running on all cylinders for years.
Brothers Ehren and Lorin Watada opened the Asian fusion spot Bachi Burger in 2010 at 407 E. Windmill Lane. Even among the glut of gourmet burger joints, Bachi stood out for its creative flavors and quickly became one of the more innovative casual restaurants in Henderson. Among its most popular burgers are the Ronin—with Angus beef, caramelized onions, Japanese coleslaw, a fried egg and yuzu aioli—and the Banh Mi burger, with a patty of beef, pork and shrimp, pork pate, pickled vegetables and curry aioli. Non-burger dishes are good, too, like chili-fried chicken or bao-style steamed sandwiches with duck or pork belly.
The new Westside location rests right beside the Regal Village Square movie theaters. It looks and feels like the original, with some upgrades: It’s larger and less boxy, with the same tranquil vibe. The menu is exactly the same, and that’s a good thing.
Firefly is no less than a locals’ institution. Chef and owner John Simmons pioneered Spanish tapas in Las Vegas, opening the original on Paradise Road in 2003. It was slow to take off, probably because Vegas didn’t know what the word “tapas” meant. But the small plate approach—augmented by plentiful sangria and mojitos—became one of the city’s biggest food trends, on and off the Strip.
Firefly briefly operated a Downtown location in 2009 at the Plaza, but really found its groove when Summerlin crowds stormed its West Sahara location as soon as the doors opened in fall 2010. The new Firefly on Eastern is more of the same, a cool, second-story spot complete with a cozy bar-lounge and a mini-patio with a spectacular view. All the greatest hits are on the menu, with at least one new plate. It sounds hokey, but the snow crab claw corn dog, served with honey mustard sauce for dipping, is already my new favorite Firefly bite.
This story first appeared in Sun sister publication Las Vegas Weekly.