CVIndependent

Mon07062020

Last updateMon, 20 Apr 2020 1pm

Now Open (At Least a Little): The Alibi Palm Springs

You’ve probably heard this one before: Owners announce a new restaurant is going to open on a tentative date. That date comes … and goes. A new date is announced; it passes, too. Cycle repeats a time or three.

Such has been the case with The Alibi Palm Springs, opening under new ownership and after significant renovations at the former Azul/Alibi/Georgie’s etc. space at 369 N. Palm Canyon Drive.

The new owners opened the space for the Lesbo Expo Launch Party—bringing in outside food—during Palm Springs Pride last November. In December, The Alibi Facebook page (www.facebook.com/TheAlibiPalmSprings) announced a soft opening would take place on Jan. 25. We don’t know whether that actually happened; we do know signs went up a little later on The Alibi’s front doors, announcing an April opening. Which, of course, didn’t happen.

In recent weeks, The Alibi’s Instagram page (www.instagram.com/thealibipalmsprings) has sprung to life with encouraging photos of things like functional misters and a new jukebox. However, three pics got me really excited: One shows newly renovated glider seats on the patio—and those unique glider seats helped put the old Azul/etc. on the map; another shows meat being grilled; and a third shows a patio view—with an announcement that the patio would be open over Memorial Day weekend. Yes!

According to a subsequent Instagram post, The Alibi, for now, will be open from 5 p.m. to midnight, Thursday through Sunday. Follow that aforementioned Instagram page for more information.


Fire Leads to Temporary Closure of All Aspen Mills Bakery Locations

A fire on May 17 at Aspen Mills Bakery, 555 S. Sunrise Way, in Palm Springs, has led to the closure of all four of the much-loved bakery’s valley locations.

“Our oven serves all our locations in the desert, so every one of our stores will be affected by this setback,” said a message on the Aspen Mills Facebook page. “We hope to be doing what we do best at Aspen Mills as quickly as we can.”

We sent an email to owner Marty Webster asking when Aspen Mills may reopen, but we did not get a response as of our deadline.

Here’s hoping the closure is very short. Watch www.facebook.com/AspenMillsBakery for more information.


Worth Checking Out: Holey Scoops Ice Cream, in Palm Desert

If you’re inclined to support a small business started up by young, enthusiastic entrepreneurs, and you happen to like good ice cream, I recommend trying out Holey Scoops Ice Cream, located at 74600 Highway 111, in Palm Desert.

Siblings Becca and Aaron Brukman opened the shop around six months ago. After growing up in Long Beach and attending the University of Arizona, they moved to the Coachella Valley and decided to open Holey Scoops, using Aaron’s business acumen, and Becca’s experience with people, marketing and customer service.

“We’re a brother and sister. We’re young. We’re trying this whole small-business thing out,” Becca told me.

Holey Scoops offers 16 ice cream flavors (including a no-sugar-added flavor), plus dairy-free bars, chocolate-covered bananas and other treats like cookie pies. If you stop in, chances are Becca and Aaron will be the people helping you: So far, they’re their only employees.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/holeyscoops.


In Brief

Sad news: Three Sixty North, at 360 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, closed on Sunday, May 26. After word started spreading on Facebook that owner Tony Gallardo had decided not to renew the lease, we reached out to the restaurant via Facebook—and confirmed the news. Gallardo and some staff will remain available for catering, however; call 760-797-5733 for details. … Now open: El Patron Crafted Tacos and Drinks, located in the old Starbucks space at 101 S. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. The renovated spot looks gorgeous, and the menu—featuring tacos, burritos, ceviche and all sorts of tequila-fueled cocktails—looks delicious. Get details at www.facebook.com/elpatronpalmsprings and www.elpatronps.com. … Congratulations to Vicky’s of Santa Fe, at 45100 Club Drive, in Indian Wells, on its 30th anniversary! Get more info, including the restaurant’s amazing $29 Greater Palm Springs Restaurant Week menu, at www.vickysofsantafe.com. … PS Underground, which has presented an amazing array of themed culinary experiences at venues across the valley over the last six years, now has a permanent home in Palm Springs: 1700 S. Camino Real, Suite 2; that’s the old Appetito space next to Koffi. Awesome! Details at www.psunderground.com. … Now open again: Los Arcos Mexican Restaurant, at 68718 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Cathedral City. It had been in the side space of the old IMAX theater in Cathedral City. However, CVRep needed that space after taking over the building, and Los Arcos closed down for a bit before reopening on the other side of the “downtown Cathedral City” complex, near The Roost Lounge. Welcome back! Get details at www.facebook.com/LosArcosMex.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

Dining Out for Life Benefits the Desert AIDS Project on Thursday, April 27

Dining Out for Life day is one of my favorite days of the year. Why, you ask? Well, when else can you eat at one or two (or, uh, like seven?) of many, many Coachella Valley restaurants—and say you’re doing so not due to gluttony, but instead to benefit a great cause?

The great cause in this case is the Desert AIDS Project, and this year’s DOFL date is Thursday, April 27. On that day, participating bars and restaurants will donate anywhere from 33 percent to 100 percent (!) of the day’s sales to DAP.

Earning special mention are the four (as of our press deadline) restaurants giving their entire days’ sales to DAP: The Barn Kitchen at Sparrows Lodge, Pho 533, Ristretto and Townie Bagels.

You must participate in this. I mean, you dine out anyway, right? We’ve said it before, and we’ll say again: It’s literally the least you can do.

For more information, visit www.diningoutforlife.com/palmsprings—and on that special day, follow the Independent’s Facebook page as we chronicle our various visits to Dining Out for Life restaurants.


New: Truss and Twine, Sister Bar/Restaurant of Workshop Kitchen + Bar

When Michael Beckman’s Workshop Kitchen + Bar restaurant opened in the historic El Paseo building at 800 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, in 2012, it earned a lot of much-deserved buzz thanks to its innovative menu, its stark industrial décor and its fantastic craft-cocktail offerings.

Now Beckman has a second buzz-worthy restaurant in that building. Truss and Twine opened March 13, offering “classic cocktails broken down by era, alongside a desert-inspired menu using ingredients from the Coachella Valley,” according to a news release.

Wait … cocktails broken down by era? Very cool! According to that news release, bar managers Dave Castillo and Michelle Bearden broke down their menu into five eras of cocktail culture: the “Golden Age,” “Prohibition,” “Tiki,” “Dark Ages” and “Originals” (featuring new in-house creations).

As for the food, expect upscale bar/snack offerings, including jamon iberico, the amazing ham that caused me to put on several pounds the last time I was in Spain.

We had not checked out Truss and Twine in person as of our press deadline—but trust me, we will soon.

Truss and Twine is open at 4 p.m. daily, and stays open late. Details at trussandtwine.com.


In Brief

Early readers of this column, here’s an event you won’t want to miss: The lovely Purple Palm Restaurant and Bar, at the Colony Palms Hotel, 572 N. Indian Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, is hosting the Pink Party. It takes place from 6 to 9 p.m., Wednesday, March 29. The event, featuring chef Nick Tall’s cuisine and a variety of rosé wines, is a benefit for the Annette Bloch Cancer Care Center at the Desert AIDS Project. Admission is $50; call 760-969-1818 for reservations. … Pete’s Hideaway, at 665. S. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, is the home of the new Club Rouge. The “secret underground nightclub and showroom” is a joint product of PS Underground, the group that puts on various themed dinners at top-secret locations around the valley. Club Rouge is currently hosting the Lost Cherry Cabaret every Saturday at 10:30 p.m.; $47 will get you “gourmet appetizers and sinful desserts” as well as the show, featuring performers Francesca Amari, Robbie Wayne and Siobhan Velarde. A full bar is available, of course. Get tickets and info at www.rougepalmsprings.com. … Coming soon to Rancho Mirage: Haus of Poke, a restaurant serving the raw-fish salad in various forms. It’ll be at 42500 Bob Hope Drive, Suite B; info at www.hausofpoke.com. … The old Café Europa space at The Corridor, at 515 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, will soon be the Mod Café. A menu at ToastTab.com shows it’ll offer all three square meals, with salads, stuffed pitas, burgers, melts and bowls as the main lunch and dinner fare. Visit www.toasttab.com/mod-cafe for more. … The Noodle Bar, our favorite place to eat at the Spa Resort Casino, 401 E. Amado Road, in Palm Springs, has closed. … Coming soon: Vinny’s Italian Ice and Frozen Custard, to 190 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Attendees of the LGBT Center of the Desert’s recent Red Dress Dress Red Party got to sample some of Vinny’s frozen fare; expect an opening around May 1. Details at www.vinnysitalianice.com. … The L Fund, a local nonprofit that helps out lesbians in crisis, is having its Gumbo Gala fundraiser at noon, Sunday, April 2, at the Palm Springs Pavilion, 401 S. Pavilion Way, in Palm Springs. Tickets are $75; get details at www.facebook.com/Palmspringslfund. … Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza has opened its doors in the West Elm building in downtown Palm Springs, at 201 N. Palm Canyon Drive. It’s the second valley location of the highly regarded pizza franchise. Details at www.blazepizza.com/locations/palm-springs. … Brunch has returned to The Saguaro, at 1800 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Outside of El Jefe, the hotel’s culinary offerings have been in flux since the departure of Tinto. People can now enjoy weekend brunch from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends on the courtyard patio; get menus and more info at thesaguaro.com/palm-springs.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

Tinto at the Saguaro Downsizes a Bit

Tinto, the Basque-style restaurant owned by Iron Chef Jose Garces that calls the Saguaro Palm Springs home, will reopen Wednesday, Dec. 3, after a lengthy closure during much of the summer and fall.

When Tinto reopens, it will be just a fraction of its former self, size-wise: The restaurant will occupy what had previously been the Tinto bar—and that’s it. The rest of the former Tinto space, including the lovely patio, has been converted into what’s called the Palmetto Room and the Santa Rosa patio. Those spaces will be available for special events like weddings and holiday parties.

The Saguaro hosted an event for VIPs and media at the old-new space on Wednesday, Nov. 19, and here’s the spin Tinto/Saguaro reps were putting on things: The Tinto downsizing will allow the restaurant to return to the small, intimate tapas-bar roots of the original Tinto in Philadelphia; meanwhile, the Palmetto Room and Santa Rosa Patio will help the Saguaro keep up with a demand for more special-events spaces.

Make what you will of that spin. All I know is that I hope the downsized Tinto can succeed; although I’ve experienced inconsistent service and food during previous visits to Tinto, I’ve also experienced some of the best bites I’ve had in the Coachella Valley.

Get more details at garcesgroup.com/restaurants/tinto.

PS Underground Takes Up a Semi-Permanent Residency With Light

Over the last two years or so, Michael Fietsam and David Horgen have wowed local foodies with PS Underground, a series of intimate, details-secret-until-the-day-of themed dinners held at a variety of valley locations.

While PS Underground lives on—in fact, the next event, called “Wanderland,” takes place on Wednesday, Dec. 10 (more details at www.psunderground.com)—Fietsam and Horgen have also set down roots, of sorts, for a new experience called Light.

Fietsam told me that like the usual PS Underground events, the details of Light’s dinners—including the menu and the dining location—remain secret to diners until the day of the event. However, unlike PS Underground events, the Light experience will be accessible throughout the season—until May 2, to be exact.

Why did the duo add Light to the PS Underground menu of offerings? Fietsam explained that he and Horgen wanted to share the PS Underground experience with a wider variety of people; it was a logical expansion of the hobby-turned-business.

“We haven’t been able to tap into the market of tourists and (out-of-town) friends of people who live in the desert” thanks to the inconsistency of the PS Underground schedule, he said.

While Light’s venue will remain the same through May 2, chef Horgen’s menu, or at least portions of it, changes on a weekly basis, Fietsam said.

Light takes place at 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday, through the season. The experience costs $150. Make reservations and get more details at www.lightps.net.

LuLu’s Rhine Joins Forces With Photog John Paschal for Eight4Nine

Willie Rhine has become a community icon as the general manager (and one of the public faces of) Barbara and Jerry Keller’s LuLu California Bistro, in downtown Palm Springs.

He’s so strongly associated with LuLu that his mid-November announcement that he was starting his own restaurant shocked many in the restaurant world.

Rhine is joining forces with John Paschal, of Snapshot Palm Springs Studios, to open a new-American cuisine restaurant called Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge, at 849 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. The new restaurant is slated to open sometime next summer.

After the initial announcement, Rhine took to Facebook to clarify his status with LuLu.

“I have the love and support of LuLu California Bistro owners, Barbara and Jerry Keller, who are excited about my new opportunity and equally thrilled and happy that I am staying on to continue the success of LuLu, where I remain both vested and the general manager, in charge of the day-to-day operations,” Rhine wrote. “I will continue to oversee our catering events with our amazing management team, including Lucy Kent and Francisco Plascencia.”

Congrats to Willie Rhine and John Paschal!

Follow the progress at www.facebook.com/eight4ninerestaurant.

In Brief

Figue Mediterranean Restaurant—the gorgeous La Quinta spot that was a solo effort by Lee Morcus, of the Kaiser Restaurant Group—is apparently no more. While no official announcement that we know of has been made, the closed restaurant’s Facebook page and website have not been updated in many months. ... The Villa Royale Inn and Europa Restaurant will hold a masquerade-themed dinner to benefit Angel View at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 11. Europa is located at 1620 S. Indian Trail, in Palm Springs; call 760-327-2314 for reservations or more info. … The former Crave, the dessert joint and bar on the second floor at 301 N. Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs, is now known as Plate | Glass. Larry Abel and Raymond McCallister are the owners; they formerly owned Crave with Davy Aker, who is not part of Plate | Glass. Find more details by calling 760-322-2322, or visit plate-glass.com.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club Offers a Taste of Santa Fe

Last month in this space, we wrote these somewhat prophetic words about the Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club, at 1555 S. Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs (emphasis newly added): “If everything goes according to plan, the Hacienda … will quietly open its doors the weekend of May 30. It’ll be a baptism-by-fire sort of opening for the Hacienda: Just two weeks later, the new restaurant/beach club/events space will be hosting thousands of people as one of the three venues that are part of the second annual Splash House.”

Well, guess what? That May 30 soft opening didn’t happen, because … well, things didn’t go according to plan. In fact, even the first day of the Hacienda’s Splash House lineup had to be moved to The Saguaro because of delays.

That meant that the Hacienda finally opened its doors for the second (and heaviest) day of Splash House on Saturday, June 14.

And it was executive chef Robert Wepplo’s job to make sure his brand-new crew and brand-new kitchen were up to the task. How’d it go?

“That was a really fast learning curve, that’s for sure,” he said in what we’re going to call the Understatement of the Month.

Of course, Wepplo and his crew now have several weeks of serving the Hacienda’s decidedly Mexican-inspired menu under their figurative belts, and the kinks are being worked out.

What led Wepplo to create lunch, dinner and brunch menus with such a Mexican/Southwestern theme?

“I moved here from Santa Fe, New Mexico,” said the veteran of Piero’s PizzaVino on El Paseo. “I love green chiles and red chiles, and really lean on those two sauces.”

When I asked him what his go-to dishes are, he picked the shrimp adobo taco for lunch, and the fresh catch with his cilantro-saffron sauce for dinner; on the day I talked to him, he said the restaurant had gotten in some nice barramundi.

And more food’s on the way at the Hacienda: He said he’s in the process of developing a small, taco stand-like kitchen for the Hacienda’s pool area, which will serve simple yet tasty fare such as empanadas and tacos. He’s also honing the late-night bar menu.

The restaurant at the Hacienda is currently open from Wednesday through Sunday; call 760-778-8954 to confirm hours, and visit www.haciendacantina.com for more information.

Summer Specials in Abundance!

We keep finding out more news about various summer specials being offered by local restaurants. Here’s just a small sampling:

Cello’s American Bistro, at 35943 Date Palm Drive in Cathedral City, is offering $5 specials each week during the summer to celebrate the restaurant’s fifth birthday.

• Each weekday in the Amigo Room at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club, from 3 to 6 p.m., enjoy half-off “small plates” as well as drink discounts.

• A number of restaurants on El Paseo are teaming up to offer great summer specials, including Café des Beaux-Arts (happy hour every day in the bar from 4:30 to closing), and Wolfgang Puck Pizza Bar (happy hour every day from 3 to 6 p.m.).

Know of any other amazing summer specials? Share the details by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.!

PS Underground Gets ‘Light’

The people responsible for the wandering supper club known as PS Underground continue to innovate.

The next event being put on by Michael Fietsam and David Horgen, called “Light,” has already been extended from two dates to four due to the extensive demand. The $150-per-person event, held at a location not disclosed to attendees until the day of the event, is shrouded in even more secrecy than some previous PS Underground events: All the briefs for the event say simply that it’s “an avant-garde dinner experience,” and that attendees should wear white; a Vimeo teaser video for the event includes a lot of pictures of light bulbs, and little else.

Hmm.

PS Underground is currently taking “Light” reservations for Friday, July 18, and Saturday, July 19. Make said reservations or sign up for updates at www.psunderground.com.

In Brief

The folks at the Kaiser family of restaurants—which includes the Kaiser Grille, Chop House and Grind Brgr Bar in Palm Springs, as well as Jackalope Ranch in Indio—are continuing to mix things up. A couple of months after closing the Hog’s Breath Inn in La Quinta, they announced they will convert the Palm Desert Chop House, located at 74040 Highway 111, into a Kaiser Grille. … Level 2, the LGBT bar located at 67555 Highway 111 in Cathedral City, has closed, about a year after the latest ownership change. Who knows what will come of the spot previously known as Sidewinders and Elevation? … Citron at the Viceroy, located at 415 S. Belardo Road, is offering special summer cocktails using No. 209 barrel-aged gin. If you’ve never tried barrel-aged gin, you’re in for a treat. Call 760-318-3005 for more details.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

PS Underground Offers Surprises, Delights to Adventurous Foodies

So this is how it works: You go to the PS Underground webpage, and you request a reservation for a dinner event being held on a certain date. The event is called, say, “Spectrum: An Evening of Culinary Theater.”

You disclose any dietary restrictions, and say whether any members of your party are nondrinkers. If your reservation is confirmed, you pay, in the case of “Spectrum,” $89, plus tax, per person.

You don’t know the location (other than it is somewhere local) for “Spectrum.” You don’t know what’s being served. And you don’t even know what in the world “Spectrum” means.

Shortly before the event, you’ll get an email revealing the location, time and perhaps a hint about the theme, so you can dress up appropriately.

If such a culinary adventure sounds intriguing, then you should check out PS Underground.

PS Underground is the brainchild of Michael Fietsam and David Horgen. The local foodies, both of whom have backgrounds in the restaurant biz, say PS Underground got its start thanks to the dinner parties the couple would hold at their home. The more parties they had, the more popular they became.

“People (friends of friends) were coming to our house we didn’t even know,” Fietsam says. “We figured out that obviously, something was missing in the desert. There was a niche, and we thought: Why not turn our love and passion (for food) into a business?”

Thus, PS Underground was born. The first event was held last November. “A Taste of Autumn” was held in a 1960s-era artist bungalow, and appetizers were served outside, near a fire pit and sculptures. Dinner was served inside next to … a Jacuzzi?

“It was a blend of elegance and kitsch!” says the PS Underground website.

Four other events have followed, including “Last Dinner on the Titanic,” held in April on the 101st anniversary of the last meal aboard the doomed ship. Fietsam says that he and David try to appeal to all of the senses, and for the “Last Dinner,” not only did they re-create the menu of the Titanic’s final meal; they made the dining room look as much as possible like the room the first-class passengers on the Titanic would have found. They put up pictures from the voyage. They played newsreels about the ship’s maiden voyage. They worked with a local producer on a 15-minute video to play at the dinner. They even researched how the food was served to passengers.

“We wanted our diners transported into that experience,” Fietsam says.

Due to an increase in demand, “Spectrum”—PS Underground’s fifth event—was grown into four nights spread over two weekends. The first two nights happened on July 12 and 13, with the second two occurring on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 2 and 3.

Guests at the first two “Spectrum” nights were asked to keep quiet about the details until the second two nights have come and gone. So, I asked Fietsam: Can you offer any hints on what attendees can expect?

“The location we’ve chosen is quite unique. It’s not a place people would expect for a dinner party,” he says. In fact, he says that attendees are on “pins and needles” during the cocktail portion of the evening, wondering how, exactly, the night is going to work out.

If you’re interested in attending “Spectrum,” or any PS Underground event, early reservations are advised, because Michael and David cap the attendance at 30 to keep the dinner-party vibe intact.

To join the club, get information on future events, look at pictures and menus from previous events, or make reservations for one of the final two “Spectrum” nights, visit www.psunderground.com. You can also follow PS Underground on Facebook.

Level 2 Again Goes Gay

For years, it was an LGBT bar known as Sidewinders. Then it became an LGBT bar called Elevation. Then it was turned into Level 2, a … straight bar? (Gay folks were welcome, but the bar’s owners tried to orient the venue toward a more-general crowd. So, we’ll stick with the term “straight bar,” even though it’s kinda stupid and not wholly accurate.)

Well, whatever it was before, make no mistake: Level 2, at 67555 E. Palm Canyon Drive in Cathedral City, is again a gay bar. (But, of course, straight folks are welcome.)

New owners took control in June, and Level 2 celebrated its grand reopening (not that it ever closed, but still …) the first week of July. You’ll find a comfy atmosphere, a cool balcony (too bad it doesn’t overlook something more appealing than Highway 111 and the parking lot) and drag shows hosted by Marina Mac every Saturday at 9.

Want more info? Call 760-328-6834, or track down the bar on Facebook.

Figue Offers Cooking Classes, Recipes

If you like cooking food, and enjoy learning about food, you’ll want to take the following steps:

1. Point your browser toward eatfigue.com.

2. Click on “blog.”

3. Click on “Italian Cooking Class.”

4. Enjoy the information, history and full freakin’ recipes for watermelon and tomato salad; guazzetto of wild salmon, mussels and shrimp; and pistachio, polenta and olive oil cake.

Yum.

This is what I am hoping is the first in a series of notes and recipes from Figue chef François de Mélogue’s cooking classes to be posted on the website for Figure Mediterranean, 47474 Washington St. in La Quinta. These are from the class in June—and it turns out that TOMORROW, at noon, Saturday, July 20, Mélogue will be offering a French cooking class. The cost is $75, and the 2 1/2-hour event includes a three-course lunch.

“Like” Figue on Facebook for more information on future classes and other special events. And watch that Figue blog for more yummy recipes and information … we hope! Call 760-698-9040 for more info.

In Brief

Brushfire Grille and 911 Saloon, which was located at 1260 S. Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs, has closed. … Welcome to the dark days for Coachella Valley foodies: Summer closures at many beloved eateries are in full force. Be sure to call ahead or sniff around on Facebook before heading to your favorite restaurant.

Published in Restaurant & Food News