Most restaurants found within an attraction serve the bare essentials; however, if the scope and imagination of Illuminarium are any indications, the onsite Lumin Café & Kitchen would be anything but ordinary. We had a sneak peek (and taste) of the restaurant’s menu two weeks before opening and got to see firsthand what diners can expect from the space and menu. The interiors were a collaboration between the Rockwell Group and Blau + Associates, a local Las Vegas restaurateur team helmed by Elizabeth Blau and Kim Canteenwalla (the husband and wife team behind Honey Salt).
“David Rockwell has been a friend, collaborator, mentor for probably the better part of 25 years, so whenever he calls and tells me he’s working on something exciting,” Blau told members of the press, “I don’t even ask questions. I just literally say yes.”
Honey Salt is well-known for its fried chicken sliders (a romantic ode to meeting Canteenwalla in Biloxi), and diners at Lumin Café & Kitchen can enjoy a version at Illumination. “The fried chicken sliders have kimchi slaw, so they’ve moved from Biloxi,” she said. “No self-respecting cafe is done without a great signature burger, so we have not just one, but we have an Impossible burger, the Lumen burger with kimchi, and we’re also doing cheeseburger sliders.”
We sat down with Blau to talk about the menu, the inspiration behind it and the stunning space that makes up Lumin Café & Kitchen.
Elizabeth Blau on Lumin Café & Kitchen
WT: Tell us about the chicken sandwich.
Blau: Well, you know, the funny thing is, is that we have the Biloxi fried chicken sandwich at Honey Salt, and that has a coleslaw as well, but that’s with a Durkee dressing, and it’s very southern, so we’re pretty adept at the coleslaw thing by now.
WT: When you came in and talked with Alan, how did you come up with the concept of how you’re going to set up the space and how you curated the menu?
Blau: Sure. So you know, as I said, David Rockwell called and I knew he was working on it and collaborating with his design team. So we talked about it, and AREA15 is this like edgy industrial space. To me, it’s got Burning Man and Life is Beautiful kind of art vibes, and we wanted something that was going to complement this.
We have these huge windows and this outdoor cafe, and so we talked about earthy tones and grains and seeds, as you’ll see, this will all be full of plants, and it’s going to be so much greener than it is now. Those are just the buzzwords you have to tell him and his team, and then they come up with this gorgeousness.
I mean, like look at these chairs and other tables. We knew that we wanted to have some communal options as well. We thought to ourselves, okay, the first three shows with “SPACE” and “O'KEEFFE: One Hundred Flowers” and” WILD.” They’re so different; maybe we would have some fun with naming some of the cocktails, but we didn’t want to go into trying to do space-themed food and African-themed food and then you know, Georgia O’Keeffe, which I don’t even know what that would be themed food!
We just wanted to have great food and, you know, very much like our principal at Honey Salt— something for everyone. There’s indulgent, there’s sweet, there’s healthy, there’s kids’ food, but just marrying it all together that it works on a menu and so that each dish was really best in class. But also, really trying to keep more with the beautiful interiors of the space and of the patio rather than trying to convolute it. Each of the shows tells these incredible stories, and so we just wanted the food to tell its own story.
WT: Did you bring over any items from your other concepts? Or is this all completely new?
Blau: It’s all completely different. I mean, obviously, at Honey Salt, as I said, we have a fried chicken sandwich. We have a burger. But we really wanted Lumin Café & Kitchen to have its own identity, but there’s certainly a DNA to what my husband and our culinary team like to do and then collaborating with Chef Billy; I think you just get this really great menu.
WT: And other than the chicken sandwich, of course, which is clearly near and dear to your heart; what is what are your other favorite items?
Blau: The pretzel bites are so good. Like, I mean, they’re these little pillowy bites because my son loves pretzel bites. So oftentimes, we get the frozen ones, and they’re really dense. These are really pillowy bites, and the cheese sauce is delicious. But I also love the hummus and the crudites and that dip. I love that BLT salad. And the Oreo milkshake. So really, I love the whole menu, but those would definitely be my favorites.