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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

What: The Zin Bites

Where: Zin American Bistro, 198 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

How much: $9

Contact: 760-322-6300; pszin.com

Why: The zin in the sauce.

This is a story of second chances.

Several months back, we took a friend who was visiting Palm Springs out to dinner at Zin American Bistro. While the service and the ambiance were top-notch, the food was decidedly unremarkable. I’d tell you what we had … but I can’t remember what we had. It was not a terrible meal, but it was a meal that left us underwhelmed and not exactly rushing to return.

Shortly after that experience, I had a conversation with a fellow foodie; our lackluster Zin experience came up.

“Well, did you try the Zin Bites?” the foodie inquired?

We hadn’t.

“Well, you have to at least go back for those,” he said, before adding, “Really,” and explaining that the Bites were, essentially, miniature beef Wellingtons.

It sounded yummy. I made a mental note.

Flash forward to a couple of weeks ago, when I was studying the various menus for Palm Springs Desert Resorts Restaurant Ten Days Week. I noticed that these Zin Bites (usually available for $9) were one of the first-course offerings on Zin American Bistro’s $26 prix-fixe menu; second courses included impressive offerings like a ribeye.

$26 for mini beef Wellingtons, a steak and dessert? Yes. It was time to give Zin a second chance.

Boy, are we glad we did.

The ribeye was nice (and a great deal)—but without a doubt, the best part of my meal was that plate of four Bites. The Zin Bites themselves—each including a tiny piece of filet mignon surrounded by goat cheese and wrapped lovingly in pastry—were great. However, the maroon zinfandel-reduction/shallot sauce took the Bites from great to oh my gosh, we need to order another plate of these.

However, we held off on ordering another round. Instead, we returned to Zin for another Restaurant Week meal several days later—making it the only restaurant we visited twice over that 10-day period.

Zin American Bistro is now on our list of regular restaurants. Thank goodness for second chances—and thank goodness for those fantastic Zin Bites.

Published in The Indy Endorsement

Restaurant Week Is Almost Here!

It may be the greatest time of year for local foodies: Palm Springs Desert Resorts Restaurant Week is almost here!

The “week” is actually 10 days long, and this year, it takes place from Friday, May 30, through Sunday, June 8. (Last year, the “week” was actually 17 days long. Go figure.) Here’s how it works: Participating restaurants offer three-course prix-fixe meals for either $26 or $38, either in addition to or in place of their regular offerings. Some deals are quite impressive; when else can you eat an amazing three-course meal at a place like Dish Creative Cuisine, Figue or even Peaks (at the top of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway) for less than $40?

The week began in 2007 with less than 30 participating restaurants and businesses; this year, more than 100 are involved, from all across the valley. Other valley businesses are getting in on the act, too; for example, Desert Adventures is offering eco-tours of the Indian Canyons or the San Andreas Fault, followed by lunch or dinner, for a special price. (Read more about that here.)

Get the complete lowdown, including menus and more, at www.palmspringsrestaurantweek.com.

Coming Soon: The Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club

If everything goes according to plan, the Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club, located at 1555 S. Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs, 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.

This is the restaurant-news column, so we’re obviously most concerned about the eats and the cocktails. Here’s some of what we know, culled from a news release: “By day, we are a hip sun-lovers’ paradise with an intimate desert-inspired pool scene with outdoor bar, cabanas with bottle service and live DJ music. At night, we are a chic restaurant, bar and lounge that synergistically combines to serve up fresh, organic and responsibly sourced high quality chef created Mexican cuisine. All drinks are masterfully hand-crafted with fresh juices and natural sweeteners.”

Wait. Did they really use the word “synergistically” there? Wow.

Anyway, the website (www.haciendacantina.com) offers more hints on what to expect: A posted menu includes appetizers like sea bass crudo and wood-smoked bone marrow (!); tacos and tortas with a half-dozen filling options, including duck confit (!!); ensaladas and sopas; and entrées such as duck-breast mole, and eggplant-stuffed poblano pepper (!!!). There’s a brunch menu, too.

As for the cocktails? The focus of the online menu us squarely on tequila, mescal and the drinks that can be made with these Mexican liquors. We’re dying to try the South x Southwest, which includes St. Germain, Moscato d’Asti, lemon, bitters and rosemary.

As for the prices? They remain a mystery—none are posted on the online menus.

Head to the aforementioned website, or call 760-778-8954 for more information.

Sessions at the Hard Rock Hotel Offers Locals' Summer Specials

After experimenting with a locals’ discount a couple of months ago, the folks at the Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs’ Sessions restaurant have brought the discount back for the entire summer.

Quite a discount, it is: Anyone with an identification card or a business card showing local residency or work ties can receive 50 percent off at Sessions. 50 percent!

Of course, there are some restrictions: The discount is only good for breakfast and lunch, and it’s only valid Mondays through Thursdays. Still, it’s a great deal!

The discount is being offered through Sept. 30 at Sessions, located at the Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs, 150 S. Indian Canyon Drive. For more information, call 760-325-9676, or visit www.hrhpalmsprings.com.

In Brief

The much-anticipated Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaisementioned in this space last month—is now open at 105 S. Palm Canyon Drive in downtown Palm Springs … Gone at 362 S. Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs is Asian Bistro. Coming soon in its place, says a big banner on the building: Tlaquepaque Mexican Restaurant, which has called Sunny Dunes Road home for years. … So long to the Hog’s Breath Inn. The Kaiser-owned restaurant in La Quinta recently closed after a decade in business.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

Desert Adventures is well known for eco-tours of locations including the San Andreas Fault and Joshua Tree—and during Palm Springs Desert Resorts Restaurant Week, the company will be offering something special for foodies.

On a regular basis, Desert Adventures does a tour of the Palm Springs Indian Canyons for $125. However, during Restaurant Week, the tour will also include lunch at a downtown Palm Springs restaurant such as Trio, Las Casuelas Terraza, Grind Brgr Bar or Kaiser Grille.

Palm Springs Desert Resorts Restaurant Week takes place this year from Friday, May 30, through Sunday, June 8. The week began in 2007 with less than 30 participating businesses; this year, more than 100 are participating. Restaurants offer three-course prix-fixe meals for either $26 or $38, and a number of other businesses—such as Desert Adventures—offer special deals as well.

“You can take the tour, and we’ll give you a voucher good for a free lunch at any one of those locations,” said Bob Schneider, president and CEO of Desert Adventures. “So you have the opportunity to sample some of their food during the lunch hour, and figure out whether or not you want to go back at dinner time.”

As for how the restaurants were selected, Schneider it had to do with the relationships he has with the restaurants’ owners and their willingness to partner with him. He said he’s proud of the diversity of food offered.

“I think from a luncheon perspective, there’s really a broad array there,” Schneider said. “… You really have something for everybody there. You can’t go wrong, and it just depends on what your palate is like, and what you have a taste for on a particular day.”

Desert Adventures is also offering tours during Restaurant Week of the San Andreas Fault, with a meal included at either the Crab Pot or Jackalope Ranch.

Restaurant Week gives foodies a chance to try food at restaurants they may never have considered at a discount, and Schneider thinks more locals need to get in on the action.

“One of the things we’re trying to stress this year with Restaurant Week is we’re really going to zero in on people in the valley and people who live here,” Schneider said. “As I go around the valley and meet with my friends, I’m amazed at how many people don’t know about Restaurant Week and the value that’s represented there.”

Schneider said he loves to try new restaurants himself during the summer months.

“My wife and I make a point of it every year. We’ve done this for the last two years where we get groups of people together; we pick different restaurants; and we go as a group. So the six to 10 of us will go out and try a restaurant, and it’s really been kind of fun. You don’t have a hard time getting a reservation. … It gives you a great opportunity to get out there and experience the restaurants that are available to us in the valley.” 

For more information on Palm Springs Desert Resorts Restaurant Week, visit www.palmspringsrestaurantweek.com.

Published in Restaurant & Food News