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Zin American Bistro Finds Itself in the Midst of a Foie Gras Uproar

In early January, U.S. District Judge Court Stephen V. Wilson overturned California’s ban on foie gras—a 2004 voter-approved law that went into effect in 2012.

Almost immediately, Mindy Reed, the owner of downtown Palm Springs’ Zin American Bistro and Alicante restaurants, announced she was returning fatty goose liver to Zin’s menu—and she attracted serious local media attention in the process.

Ever since, Reed and her staff members have been the targets of opposition, protests—and even threats.

“I’ve gotten hate mail,” Reed said. “I’ve been called a murderer. I’ve been sent pictures of me personally being bound and force-fed though a tube. My staff has been harassed.”

Reed said she understands why some individuals may be vegetarian or vegan; in fact, she said she herself was a vegan for decades. However, she said it’s unfair and hypocritical for people to focus on the delicacy that is foie gras.

“People need to remember there are two ways to do everything in life,” she said: the right way, and the wrong way. Reed insisted that she goes out of her way to use as many ingredients as possible that are produced in the right way—local, free-range, humanely raised, etc. That goes for foie gras, too.

“I serve foie gras that’s humanely raised,” she said. “The geese are not caged. There’s no tube. There are no machines. The goose is hand-fed. There are a few farms doing this. Geese will gorge themselves naturally. People who like foie gras appreciate the fact that I buy humanely raised foie gras.”

Reed gets visibly irritated when she discusses her detractors.

“Why aren’t they picketing McDonald’s or other restaurants in town (that don’t seek out meat from humanely raised animals)?” she asked. “I don’t think it’s fair.”

Meanwhile, foie gras remains on the menu at Zin; for example, a Belgian waffle dessert features brûléed pineapple, foie gras and sauternes. At least that’s the case for now: California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced in February she was appealing the ruling against the foie gras ban.

Zin American Bistro is located at 198 S. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. For more information, call 760-322-6300, or visit pszin.com.

Plate | Glass’ Goal: To Be a Place to ‘Chill Out’

“Leisure” is the key word at Plate | Glass, which last fall took over the second-story spot at 301 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in downtown Palm Springs, that had been home to Crave.

Owners Raymond McCallister and Larry Abel—best known as the men behind the Raymond | Lawrence retail shops—had previously been part-owners of Crave. When they took control of the dessert-and-coffee spot last year, they decided it was time to make some changes.

“We think Plate | Glass fulfills a need by creating a place for people to chill out,” Abel told me recently. “We have a great view. People will linger and hang out.”

Plate | Glass still offers desserts, of course—but they’re just the tip of the iceberg. Also on offer: Fantastic craft cocktails, breakfast/brunch items, salads, large-sized “melt” sandwiches and appetizer style-plates. I was fortunate enough to attend a recent media lunch there, and the fare was delicious. My favorite: The Sweet Hog melt, with pan-fried ham and blueberry goat cheese. It was amazing.

When Abel said he wants people to “chill out” at Plate | Glass, he meant it: The space even includes a cell-phone charging station and a variety of board games.

Plate | Glass is open from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday. Call 760-322-2322, or visit plate-glass.com for more information.

In Brief

The space formerly occupied by Café Scandia, which closed recently at 356 S. Indian Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, will soon be the home of Rooster and the Pig. We’ll pass along details when we get ’em. … Keep your eye on Bart Lounge, the bar/music venue/art gallery at 67555 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Cathedral City, in the second-story space that recently housed Level 2 bar. It’s slated to open sometime in March. Follow www.bartlounge.com and Bart’s Facebook page for updates. … The Food+Wine Festival Palm Desert, a Palm Springs Life joint, will take place Friday, March 27, through Sunday, March 29. Watch www.palmdesertfoodandwine.com. … BB’s at the River is taking over the former Acqua Pazza space at The River, located at 71800 Highway 111, in Rancho Mirage. Jack Srebnik, who owns the two local Maracas restaurants, is the brains behind the place. Get info—including hiring details—at www.facebook.com/BBsRiverRanchoMirage. ... The Westin Mission Hills, at 71333 Dinah Shore Drive in Rancho Mirage, has launched a series of wine dinners at the Pinzimini Restaurant. The four-course meals with wine pairings are taking place the last Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. through April; the first dinner, in February, cost $85 plus tax and tip. Get more info at www.pinziminipalmsprings.com/WineDinnerSeries.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

Appetito Cal-Italian Deli Is Open—and Exciting

It’s safe to say that Appetito Cal-Italian Deli, at 1700 S. Camino Real, in Palm Springs (located in the same building as Koffi), is unlike every other restaurant in the Coachella Valley.

On one hand, the service is fast-casual, meaning that you order at the counter and then get your food delivered to you. (Take note: One of the managers lectured me when I called the service style “fast casual,” even though the term is accurate.) On the other hand, the food you’ll receive is better than you’d get at almost every other so-called fast-casual restaurant. (This explains the lecture.)

On one hand, the menu looks fairly simple: It includes starters, salads, pastas, sandwiches and foccacia (think pizzas, but on foccacia rather than pizza dough). On the other hand, it’s not simple at all: For example, one of the salads is a surprisingly tasty Tuscan kale Caesar (I say “surprising,” because I despise kale), and the ricotta gnocchi is made entirely of cheese—no potato or pasta is present.

On one hand, the décor is open and has a bustling, industrial sort of feel. On the other hand, the space is quite comfortable and features great lamps and other fantastic touches, due to the Christopher Kennedy design. There’s also a great bar, and the patio features an amazing mountain view over the adjacent Ace Hotel and Swim Club.

I was invited to a recent media dinner at Appetito, and I was stunned by all that managing partner Patrick Service and executive chef Chad Shaner—both veterans of the New York restaurant scene—have managed to accomplish so far. We tried a lot of food, and my favorites included the blistered shishito peppers ($5); the tagliatelle with English peas, pancetta, pecorino and a hint of mint ($11 regular portion; $16 full portion); and the foccacia with oven-dried tomatoes, stracciatella, oregano and garlic ($9).

However, the undisputed highlight was the porchetta panino, with pork, broccoli rabe, provolone and a chili aioli ($14). It’s delicious on its own; it’s simply stunning when paired with Coachella Valley Brewing Co.’s Appetito Ale—brewed specially for Appetito, and brewed specifically to go with the porchetta panino.

Appetito opens at 11 a.m. daily. Call 760-327-1929, or visit www.appetitodeli.com for details.

Fantasy Springs Offers Sip of the Desert

The Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, in Indio, is promoting its new Sip of the Desert Wine and Spirit Tasting series thusly: “Think monthly wine club, but with the top wineries and spirit distilleries all in one place, knowledgeable representatives, no pricey membership, gourmet cheese pairings and a breathtaking view spanning across the valley floor.”

OK. We’re intrigued.

On Wednesday, March 26, the first Sip of the Desert will feature wines from Napa Valley’s Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars. On Wednesday, April 23, expect tastings of Scotch!

The monthly event is held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the 12th Floor Cocktail Lounge and Wine Bar, and it will cost you $20. Reservations are recommended at 760-238-5727.

The Ritz-Carlton Takes a California-Centered Dining Approach

After a number of long and costly delays, it appears that The Ritz Carlton, Rancho Mirage, 68900 Frank Sinatra Drive, is actually going to open soon: The resort is hiring and accepting reservations for arrivals starting on May 15.

But what does the Ritz have in store for foodies? The resort’s website offers some clues.

The State Fare Bar + Kitchen “pays tribute to California’s prized harvest and ingredients, inspired by offerings from the finest purveyors in the Coachella Valley, inland Southern California and the Pacific coast,” says the website. “Presenting the best of California for daily breakfast, lunch and supper, the restaurant provides a fresh and creative California menu, a lively chefs’ display kitchen, seasonal and artisanal culinary specialties, and signature cocktail trolley service offering table-side classics with a twist.”

Wait. Did that say signature cocktail trolley service? Very cool.

In the fall, The Edge steakhouse is slated to open at the resort as well. Watch for details at www.ritzcarlton.com.

In Brief

Sessions, the restaurant at the Hard Rock Palm Springs (150 S. Indian Canyon Drive), is offering half-off breakfasts and lunches to locals every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday through the end of March. Another tip for locals: The Hard Rock pool is open to the public at no charge (as long as you’re 21 or older), and as the weather warms up, there will be more poolside barbecue options available. … Shawn Aoki, the chef at Pinzimini at the Westin Mission Hills (71333 Dinah Shore Drive, Rancho Mirage), is now offering a new five-course tasting menu. Enjoy kale chips as an amuse before moving on to cauliflower soup, herbed risotto and lobster toast. For the main course, choose between porcini fennel-rubbed flat-iron steak or basil pesto pasta, before finishing with a profiterole for dessert. All of this is yours for $75; visit www.pinziminipalmsprings.com for details.

Published in Restaurant & Food News