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Tue12102019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Restaurant Week Returns With a Slightly Different Name, Higher Prices

The 10-day foodie feast known by locals simply as Restaurant Week is back and celebrating 10 years of existence—but things will be slightly different in 2016 than in years past.

Less important: Out is the clunky full name of Palm Springs Desert Resorts Restaurant Week; in comes the more streamlined Greater Palm Springs Restaurant Week.

More important: Prices have gone up. In recent years, participating restaurants have offered three-course prix fixe menus for either $26 or $38. This year, however, there are three price points: $28, $38 or $48.

The good news is that most of the participants are sticking with the lower two price points. Organizers say that more than 90 restaurants across the valley will be participating; as of our press deadline, the Restaurant Week website listed an impressive 94 participants, 83 of which had posted their menus. Of those 83, a majority of restaurants were going with the $38 prix fixe—43 of them, to be exact. Meanwhile, 26 restaurants were offering $28 menus, while just 14 of them were offering $48 menus.

New participants this year include Cathedral City’s Bontá Restaurant and Bar, Palm Desert’s Koutouki Greek Estiatorio, and Palm Springs’ Chi Chi at the Avalon, Reservoir at Arrive, and SO•PA at L’Horizon.

Also new this year: The folks at ever-mysterious PS Underground will be offering a $48 menu at Velvet, a supper-club experience at a secret location created just for Restaurant Week. Very cool!

Also very cool: Beyond the restaurant deals, all sorts of other local businesses, attractions and hotels offer specials during Restaurant Week, too.

Greater Palm Springs Restaurant Week takes place Friday, June 3, through Sunday, June 12. For more information—including a list of participants and their menus—visit visitgreaterpalmsprings.com/restaurantweek.

New: Blaze Pizza Opens in Palm Desert

A growing pizza chain that does things a little bit differently has opened a new location in Palm Desert.

Blaze Pizza opened at 73393 Highway 111 on May 10, and here’s its shtick: You walk in and get in line; you tell the employees what sauce and ingredients you want placed on the made-from-scratch dough; one of those employees puts your creation in a very hot stone-hearth oven; and three minutes later, your pizza’s ready. It’d kind of like Chipotle … just with pizza, and without all the terrible press the burrito chain has gotten recently.

Actually, the press that Blaze Pizza has received lately has been just the opposite of that of Chipotle: It’s been downright glowing, as the fast-casual chain continues to grow. One of the investors in the “Fast Fire’d” pizza chain is NBA superstar LeBron James, who went to work at a Los Angeles Blaze location not to long ago, posing as an employee named “Ron.” Of course, this appearance became fodder for a commercial.

Learn more at blazepizza.com.

In Brief

As previewed in this space a couple of months back: In the very same shopping center as the aforementioned Blaze Pizza, you can find the second valley location of The Habit Burger Grill, a chain that claims to have the best burger in America according to Consumer Reports. The Palm Desert location—that address again is 73393 Highway 111—opened in May and is the second Coachella Valley location; the other is at 79174 Highway 111 in La Quinta. More info at www.habitburger.com. … Good news for West Valley boozehounds and wine snobs alike: A little store called BevMo! has applied for a liquor license to do business at 333 S. Palm Canyon Drive, the location that was The Alley furniture/gifts for many years. The building is currently under construction. We’ll be keeping a close (if slightly bloodshot) eye on the progress and will keep you updated. … The family of Crater Lake Vodka’s Kathy Schriefer has been through hell recently—but the community is stepping up to help. In December, her son, Thomas, suffered serious brain damage after drinking too much water. On May 17, local publicist Jeff Hocker, Live Magazine and Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge joined forces at Eight4Nine to raise funds to help cover Thomas’ medical bills. The goal was to raise $3,500 at the event, but Hocker reports that the “Take 2 for Thomas” party actually raised $5,501. Great work! If you want to help, the Schriefer family has a donations page set up at www.gofundme.com/d9mfr6dw. ... Speaking of good causes: Some Fabulous Leos—the local nonprofit organization, co-founded by the late George Zander, which celebrates the Leo astrological sign while raising money for worthy charities—will be having a “Pre-Party” at Eight4Nine, 849 N. Palm Canyon Drive, at 4 p.m., Saturday, June 25. For $10, you get a raffle ticket and entry to the party. It’s one of two events—the other being a happy hour at the Hard Rock on Wednesday, July 20—leading up to the big event: The annual Leo Party, taking place Sunday, Aug. 21, at Toucan’s Tiki Lounge, 2100 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. This year’s beneficiaries: The L-Fund, a lesbian philanthropic group that assists locals in need; and the Raina Chessman Fund, which aids the local transgender community. RSVP and get more info at www.somefabulousleos.com.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

New to the CV Supermarket Scene: Gelson’s and ALDI

The grocery-store gods giveth; the grocery-store gods taketh away.

In recent months, both Haggen and Fresh and Easy have faded to black in the Coachella Valley due to financial stresses.

Enter Gelson’s Markets and ALDI to fill the void.

Gelson’s—a Southern California fixture since 1951—opened in late January in the former Haggen/Pavilions space at 36101 Bob Hope Drive, in Rancho Mirage. Gelson’s purchased the Rancho Mirage store and seven others from Haggen when the company made a hasty retreat from California last year.

“Gelson’s has been looking for a great desert location for nearly 15 years, and we’re excited to come to Rancho Mirage,” said Rob McDougall, Gelson’s president and CEO, in a news release. “Our goal is to serve the local community by providing premium-quality merchandise and exceptional customer service, while also re-employing many of the dedicated employees of the former Haggen store.”

Gelson’s has a upscale yet friendly vibe, with high-quality meats, produce and seafood, in addition to a fantastic floral department; bars for salad, antipasti and hot foods; a service deli; and a counter serving juices and cut fruits. Find more information at www.gelsons.com.

And now for something completely different: ALDI, a much-larger chain that’s aggressively moving into California from Europe and the East Coast, opened stores in La Quinta (78601 Highway 111, La Quinta) and Palm Springs (5200 E. Ramon Road) on March 24.

ALDI’s shtick: It features a limited selection of most of the usual items you’d find in a supermarket—except you’ve probably never heard of the brands that ALDI sells. For the most part, the less-expensive brands are exclusive to ALDI, and the company claims the items must all match or exceed the quality offered by national brands. Don’t like something? ALDI will both replace the product and give you your money back.

One other twist at ALDI: If you want to use a shopping cart, you’ll need a quarter—but you’ll get it back when you return the cart to the central station.

Get more info at www.aldi.us.


The Saguaro’s former Tinto Restaurant Is Now Rocco’s Electric

As was foretold in this space a couple of months ago, the relationship between the Saguaro Palm Springs and the Garces Group has come to an end.

Gone is Iron Chef José Garces’ Tinto. In its place: Rocco’s Electric.

The new “Red Room and Ice Cream Emporium” looks pretty much just like Tinto did—no surprise, seeing as there was not very much time between the Tinto era and the Rocco’s Electric era.

As for the menu … it’s quite different. The Basque-inspired plates of Tinto have been replaced by a focus on cocktails (at least during evening hours) and entrées like salads and tacos. And ice cream … lots of ice cream; in fact, on the weekends, the restaurant offers midday ice cream socials.

Speaking of tacos, and specifically Taco Tuesday: If you’re a fan of El Jefe, never fear, because the popular spot survived the changeover.

For more information, call 760-322-1900, or visit www.thesaguaro.com/palm-springs.


In Brief

Congrats to Chef George’s, located at 40100 Washington St., in Bermuda Dunes. Not too long ago, the much-loved Hungarian joint took over an adjacent space and created Pickaso, a lounge with dancing and live music in addition to tasty food and drink; call 760-200-1768 for info. … The Habit Burger Grill, a 150-plus-location chain that claims to have the best burger in America according to Consumer Reports, is opening its second valley location on Highway 111 in Palm Desert. The initial area location opened a year and a half or so ago at 79174 Highway 111 in La Quinta; www.habitburger.com. … Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse is teaming up with Catalan Restaurant for “Pigs, Paella and Brews” at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 5, at Catalan, located at 70026 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. $49 will get you beer-tastings and a fantastic family-style dinner. Call 760-770-9508 for reservations or more info. … Want yummy treats while in Palm Springs? Well, you now have more options than ever before. Fruit Wonders is now offering juices, fruit bowls, smoothies and vegan cakes at 264 N. Palm Canyon Drive (www.facebook.com/fruitwondersps), while Ice Cream and Shop(pe) is just one of the much-raved-about offerings at the brand-new Arrive Hotel, located at 1551 N. Palm Canyon Drive. (Reservoir, the new full-service restaurant there, is creating quite a buzz.) At Ice Cream and Shop(pe), you’ll find between 16 and 20 favors of ice cream every day until midnight; icecreamandshop.com. Finally, if you want coffee or a light lunch, check out downtown Palm Springs’ newest coffee shop, Joey Palm Springs, at 245 S. Palm Canyon Drive; www.facebook.com/joeypalmsprings.

Published in Restaurant & Food News