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From its unusual location to its globe-spanning small plates, Nosh & Swig is full of surprises

It’s hard to tell if restaurants define how we dine or if it’s our collective cravings that give rise to new eating options. Sometimes we make a discovery that blurs those lines even further — a fun restaurant seemingly offering the perfect food at the perfect time.

In this case, it’s a casual spot with laid-back style; all the excitement is in the food. It doesn’t have a specialty, instead dabbling creatively in tasty bites from all over. It’s sort of a tapas bar, so you can choose a few small plates or get a bunch and share with your crew, but the cooking is not restricted to Spanish-style cuisine. There’s Asian influence: sticky bun tacos with pork belly lacquered in soy and ginger, Korean-style chicken wings and Thai beef jerky. But there are plenty of familiar comfort foods, too: grilled cheese, fried calamari, chicken and waffles. It’s playful, but far from kids’ stuff, and yet presented with obvious skill and attention — these plates are as Instagram-ready as they are delicious.

Chef Steve Piamchuntar

PBJIf you find this place, when you find this place, you won’t be wondering if the owners, Steve and Lorie Piamchuntar, designed it for the kind of curious, obsessed young eater who blasts their gastronomic adventures into the social media universe on a daily basis. You might, however, consider whether this restaurant, Nosh & Swig, has the potential to change the way you dine out in Las Vegas. Could every neighborhood use one of these? Absolutely.

The location of Nosh & Swig is the only thing that doesn’t make perfect sense. The vast majority of new, hip, diverse eateries like this one pop up in parts of town where there are clusters of action — Spring Mountain Road, pockets in the southwestern valley, or central locations near the Strip. Flamingo and Sandhill isn’t one of those clusters. In fact, this southeast suburban neighborhood seems to be a dining black hole, save for fast food outlets and a few chain cafeterias and tiny taco shops.

That’s kinda why Nosh & Swig is here. “It was calling out to us, like it needed some love,” says Lorie Piamchuntar. The couple lives in Southern Highlands and looked around the west and southwest parts of town for a site for their first restaurant, but nothing seemed to fit. Plus, this location was more turnkey; they could put everything together themselves. “We’re a mom-and-pop shop to the tee,” she says. “When we opened (in December) the locals around here were amazing from the start. We heard, ‘You don’t know how bad we needed a place like this around here.’ We established some regulars pretty quickly and they’ve been really good to us.”

In fact, the location itself might be part of the setting — that is, setting diners up for a pleasant surprise. “The hole in the wall stereotype, the mom and pop, that’s what I like,” says Steve. “When you walk into a casino restaurant, you expect the best. Over here, you expect fun. We catch people off guard. We saw the potential in this location to be a kind of diamond in the rough.”

Perhaps cook-it-and-they-will-come can work in the odd corners of the Vegas valley. Former food trucker Jimmy Cole opened his first restaurant, Top Notch Barbeque, in the adjoining room of a tiny Doc Holliday’s video poker bar on Eastern Avenue. Sheridan Su — like Steve Piamchuntar, an experienced young chef — dishes up Chinese-American food in the former diner inside the Eureka Casino, after operating a micro-cafe inside a hair salon.

Nosh & Swig is a big leap for the Piamchuntars. Steve grew up in the biz; his family owns two Thai restaurants in Southern California. He began his culinary career in the kitchens of the just-opening Bellagio 15 years ago. Most of his experience comes from cooking at the Stirling Club before it closed last year. “He got offered some pretty awesome executive chef positions then, but he wasn’t biting,” Lorie says. “He didn’t want to do it all over again for someone else.” The idea of opening their own restaurant hit like a ton of bricks.

“Gourmet food will always be in my blood, but bringing it back a little old-school, bringing back the fun, and not being restricted to do one thing is what this is about,” says Steve. “There are no rules in culinary, it’s just have fun, be an artist. I do (different stuff) because I can.”

Pescado TortaFrom 2005 to 2009, the couple operated a catering business, dishing it up for lots of private events and weddings. It offered an opportunity to build a local following and learn how different people’s tastes can be. That may be why Nosh & Swig’s menu is so big, why it has something for everyone, and why it’s arranged by primary ingredient.

“And I come from an Asian background where we all sat at the table together and ate each other’s food,” says Steve. “So that’s what I’m used to, sharing, trying things little by little. Putting this menu together was all about if you want a little Italian, a little Asian, a little Mexican, you can have it all with a little fun and flair.” If you’re feeling piggy, there’s a rib stack, some chicharrones or the addictive Nachos O’Brien, potato chips loaded with peppered pork and Dublin cheddar. In a veggie mood? There’s assorted tempura, Mexican street-style grilled corn, decadent cheese-filled cremini mushrooms or crisp salads served in Mason jars for shakeable fun. Don’t worry, there are chicken, fish, cow, cheese and sweets sections of the menu, too.

The Piamchuntars didn’t know how people would react to their menu; they really just built a place they’d like to go to. Turns out they have great taste. But they’re far from finished. The bar should be complete any day now, offering plenty of swigging to match all that noshing. And Chef Steve is brainstorming specials all the time, from lobster tails to lollipop lamb chops to spicy edamame to wild mushroom pasta. That means you won’t know what to expect on your next visit to a restaurant that’s already been an absolute surprise. 

 

Nosh & Swig

3620 E. Flamingo Road, 456-6674

Daily 11a-10p

 

May we recommend …

Sticky bun tacos. Everybody’s doing their version of pork belly buns these days. The Nosh & Swig twist uses an Asian-style steamed bread like a taco shell stuffed with explosively flavored crispy fried pork in a soy ginger glaze and a dollop of sour pickled cabbage. Good luck sticking with one order.

Tiger Cry. Chef Steve Piamchuntar sticks to his roots with this take on Thai beef jerky, strips of tender, salty-sour beef with a side of sticky rice and a the perfectly mouth-tinging contrast of nam prik chili paste.

Dr. Pepper braised short ribs. The chef takes you on a tour of his fine dining background with some of his small plates, including this serving of luscious, long-braised beef short ribs. Just a touch of fruity sweetness shines through the rich meat, served with rustic polenta corn bread. BR


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