Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011 | 5:47 p.m.
Henderson, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the foodship Herrinterprise. Its ongoing mission: to explore strange new neighborhoods; to seek out new life-enhancing foods and civilized lunches; to boldly go where no sensible restaurant has gone before.
Exaggeration? Only slightly. What chef/owner Chris Herrin is pioneering on south Eastern Avenue may have astronomically great benefits for the denizens of Henderson. The area has been so quality-challenged for so long, decent eats are tougher to find there than on an Earth-bound asteroid. Lucky for southeasterners, the Herrinterprise is trying to change all that.
- Bread & Butter
- 10940 S. Eastern Ave., , 675-3300
- Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-4 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 7 a.m.-2 p.m.
Its formal name is Bread & Butter, and it has single-handedly been firing photon pastry torpedoes at the mediocrity that clings up and down this traffic spine—an area that assaults sensibilities and taste buds with chain link after chain link. But our depression has had some benefits. Because even an economic dark nebulae can have a silver lining. In Henderson’s case, it has come in the form of an abandoned bagel shop transformed into a bakery-cum-restaurant that buries any faux-folksy franchise in a dazzling meteor shower of great eats.
The space it occupies is rather generic (imagine that) in one of those strip malls that are so bland you can go three times (as we did) and still not remember which one it is on your fourth trip. Trip after trip, though, is what you’ll be making once you get a bite of Herrin’s superb baked goods—tempting you on the left from the moment you enter. So appetizing are these displays of sticky buns, cinnamon rolls, soft pretzels, cupcakes and muffins, their siren song will beckon you wickedly away from the savory stuff. Resist mightily, star voyager! For two savory sandwiches (alien only in their excellence) await your exploration. Herrin’s muffaletta first made its mark a year ago, traveling around town in the Lulu’s on the Move food truck. Just like the Louisiana original, it’s chock full of good salami, mortadella, ham and provolone—all sitting betwixt a big round bun, sliced horizontally and copiously dressed with a giardiniere of pickled vegetables. Just like the Central Grocery in N’Awlins (where it was invented), the circular sandwich is cut into fat, pie-like slices that easily feed two.
As satisfying as it is, Herrin’s muffaletta isn’t original. It’s more like an overstuffed homage to an icon of meat-between-bread meals. Not so his ham sandwich—the first treatment we’ve ever seen that puts ham and cheese between a sliced waffle and covers the whole enchilada in country milk gravy. Like the muffaletta, it’s so rib-sticking that one is enough for two, especially if you want to save room for dessert. Two minor quibbles: In the South, the gravy would be a tad thicker, and calling the lightly cured ham “country ham” is an insult to Allan Benton and Uncle Jim Newsom—not to mention the aged, salty, crimson-red meats they cure in Virginia, Kentucky and throughout the South.
Menu descriptors aside, the pastrami they serve here on a fresh-baked rye bun might be the last word in rye bread married with smoked meat. But if all of this feels a bit too meaty for you, the breakfast pizza (served at lunch as well) provides a nice, filling, easily-shared antidote without requiring the death of any animal. It starts with a slightly thicker crust—almost English muffin-like—topped with sliced redskin potatoes, green peppers and caramelized red onions. Then they pile on soft scrambled eggs, oozing with fresh mozz, and finish it with a generous sprinkle of Parmesan and thyme, the whole thing providing more umami satisfaction than should be legal before dark. Wash it down with something from their ever-expanding selection of artisanal root beers, and you have a breakfast (or lunch) of champions.
If you’re wondering why I haven’t spent any time waxing poetic about B & B’s pastries, it’s because I can sum them all up at once: ethereally, outstandingly, richly the best damned baked goods anywhere off the Strip. Or maybe even on. Herrin spent seven years baking at Bouchon, and anyone who can keep the notoriously finicky Thomas Keller happy can go baguette to baguette with any boulangerie—as one bite of his muffins, cookies or cakes will convince you.
Captain Chris has aimed his foodship for the caloric stars, and he is taking his voyagers on a trek that’s long overdue. Because of him, no longer will the words “good food” and “Henderson, Nevada” collide in the same sentence only as often as Halley’s Comet visits earth.