CVIndependent

Sun12082019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Darrell Tucci is the chief development officer for the Desert AIDS Project, and he spearheads D.A.P.’s annual Dining Out for Life fundraiser, taking place this year on Thursday, April 25.

“Last year, we challenged people to become part of the B.L.D. Club—to commit to having breakfast, lunch and dinner at Dining Out for Life restaurants,” Tucci said, adding that D.A.P. is issuing the same challenge this year.

I am proud to say I was part of last year’s B.L.D. Club … and then some. In fact, I went a little crazy (in a good way) last year during Dining Out for Life: I wound up dining—or, at the very least, buying a drink or a snack—at 11 different participants last year, starting with coffee and a scone at Ristretto, and ending my night with a Maker’s Mark and Coke at the Tool Shed.

A lot of people joined me in meeting D.AP.’s challenge, and then some: Due to the generosity of the 75 participating bars and restaurants, Dining Out for Life last year raised a whopping $280,000 for D.A.P.—$50,000 more than the year before.

If you’re unfamiliar with Dining Out for Life, here’s how it goes: Local bars and restaurants agree to donate at least 33 percent of their sales on Thursday, April 25, to D.A.P. It’s that simple. Really. While D.A.P. volunteers will be present at most of the participating venues during the day—offering “I Dined” stickers and giving people the opportunity to make extra donations if they’d like—all people need to do to help D.A.P. is dine and/or drink at one of the participating restaurants and bars.

Find a complete and constantly updated list of participants at www.diningoutforlife.com/city/greater-palm-springs.

Dining Out for Life is held on behalf of HIV/AIDS service organizations in 45 cities across North America on the last Thursday each April. Even though the Coachella Valley is one of the smallest markets—if not the smallest market—that participates, last year’s $280,000 was the second-largest amount raised in any city. Only Denver, which had three times as many restaurants participating, raised more money.

Why is Dining Out for Life so successful in the Coachella Valley?

“We have a secret sauce that’s a combination of a few important ingredients,” Tucci said. “First, the restaurateurs in our valley really embody our valley’s philanthropic nature.

“Second, this valley has been at the forefront of the fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic since day one, and today’s inhabitants embody that. At Dining Out for Life, we see a dedication from attendees that’s almost like the dedication people have when going to vote.

“People wore that ‘I Dined’ sticker as a badge of honor, just like the ‘I Voted’ sticker on Election Day,” Tucci said about last year’s Dining Out for Life event. “We’d never ran out of stickers before.”

Tucci isn’t exaggerating when he touts the generosity of local restaurateurs; last year, the top three fundraising restaurants in North America—yes, the entire continent—were all located in Palm Springs: Spencer’s Restaurant, Lulu California Bistro and Trio Restaurant.

Then there are the smaller restaurants that give literally everything they have, and then some, on Dining Out for Life day. Tucci said he was amazed, for example, by the generosity of the Holiday House Palm Springs last year: Not only did the restaurant give 100 percent; the owner then matched that 100 percent donation. And at Rooster and the Pig, the restaurant gave 100 percent—and the staff donated all of their tips for the day, too. Other 100 percent participants last year included The Barn at Sparrows Lodge, Ristretto and—at 110 percent—Townie Bagels.

“All of these restaurants that participate, whether they’re giving 33 percent or 100 percent—not one of them is making money that day,” Tucci said.

This incredible generosity is needed more than ever by the Desert AIDS Project. While the origination remains one of the top HIV/AIDS service organizations in the world, D.A.P. is now also much more: As a Federally Qualified Health Center, anyone in need of primary medical care can walk in D.A.P.’s doors and become a client, getting access to doctors, prescriptions, dental care and behavior-health care. In fact, roughly half of D.A.P.’s clients today are not living with HIV.

Seeing as more than half of the Coachella Valley’s residents now live at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, D.A.P. is struggling to make sure everyone who needs quality health care in the valley can get it. To meet the demand, D.A.P. is in the midst of a $20 million expansion, slated for completion in 2020, that will more than double the organization’s patient capacity. When the expansion is complete, D.A.P.’s 60,490-square-foot campus will be able to serve 8,000 patients, up from 3,900 in 2017. The dental clinic will be able to help 1,700 people, compared to 814 in 2017, while the behavioral-health-patient capacity will rise from 583 to 1,200.

Every dollar raised during Dining Out for Life makes a huge difference. As for the aforementioned scone and coffee at Ristretto I bought to kick off Dining Out for Life last year … with Ristretto giving 110 percent of that sale to D.A.P., that $8 purchase wound up paying for three safer-sex kits. I went to Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill for dinner with two friends; we spent $120, and with the restaurant giving 50 percent, $60 went to D.A.P. to pay for three free, confidential HIV tests. I dropped in and had a drink with a party of about a dozen or so friends, most of whom were dining there, at Zin American Bistro; seeing as Zin donated about 75 percent of that check, about $340 went to D.A.P.—enough to house a low-income client for a whole month.

Follow me via the Coachella Valley Independent’s Facebook page on Thursday, April 25, as I try to match or even surpass my 11 stops from last year—and join me in visiting as many Dining Out for Life participants as possible. After all, the Coachella Valley has a lot of work to do this year to match the giving of last year.

For more information, including a complete list of Dining Out for Life participants, visit www.diningoutforlife.com/city/greater-palm-springs. If you know of a restaurant that you’d like to see participate in Dining Out for Life, get information at www.desertaidsproject.org/2019-dining-out-for-life.

Desert AIDS Project’s Dining Out for Life Breaks Records

If anyone ever needs proof that the residents of the Coachella Valley are a rather generous lot, look no further than the results of the Desert AIDS Project’s Dining Out for Life (DOFL) fundraiser back in April.

First, a recap of how DOFL works: On one chosen day per year, restaurants across the Coachella Valley agree to donate at least 33 percent of their sales—from one particular meal, or from everything—to the Desert AIDS Project.

On April 26, 75 local restaurants participated, raising a whopping $280,000 for DAP—an increase of $50,000 from last year. An estimated 10,000 valley residents went to these 75 restaurants that day.

“You couldn’t go anywhere without seeing someone wearing a ‘badge of honor’—the ‘I Dined’ stickers given to diners at participating locations,” said event manager George Nasci-Sinatra, according to a news release.

That’s impressive. However, it’s even more impressive when these numbers are put into context.

Dining Out for Life is a nationwide (plus Canada!) campaign held the last Thursday in April every year by various HIV/AIDS service organizations. Representatives of all of these campaigns gathered in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for the North American Dining Out for Life Conference in July to compare notes. Well, it turns out that even though the Coachella Valley is one of the smallest markets participating in Dining Out for Life, we rank No. 2 (!) in terms of money raised.

“Only Denver, which had three times more participating restaurants, raised more funds this year,” said Darrell Tucci, the chief development officer for DAP. “To be the smallest market in population driving the second-largest results is absolutely extraordinary and something we should all be proud of. Other markets have more participating restaurants, but no other market can boast the level of commitment shown by restaurants in greater Palm Springs.”

The main reason for the local Dining Out for Life’s success is the sheer generosity of local restaurants: In fact, the Top 3 restaurants in the country (plus Canada!) in terms of the total amount of money donated are here—Spencer’s Restaurant, Lulu California Bistroand Trio Restaurant, in that order. They raised a combined total of $61,679.

It’s also worth noting the sacrifice of some smaller restaurants that elected to give 100 percent or more of the day’s proceeds to DAP: Townie Bagels, Holiday House, The Barn Kitchen at Sparrows Lodge, Ristretto and Rooster and the Pig. Heck, the wait staff at Rooster and the Pig even donated their tips for the day to DAP.

(In the spirit of full disclosure, I should note that I’m personally a supporter of the Desert AIDS Project; the Independent does business with DAP; and George Nasci-Sinatra and Darrell Tucci are good friends of mine.)

Will the Coachella Valley be able to top these fantastic results during the next Dining Out for Life, on Thursday, April 25, 2019? Stay tuned.

For more information as the 2019 date draws nearer, visit www.diningoutforlife.com/palmsprings.


The Ace Hotel and Swim Club Celebrates Its Annual Craft Beer Weekend.

It’s become a summer tradition for Southern California beer-lovers: The Ace Hotel and Swim Club's Seventh Annual Craft Beer Weekend will take place Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 4 and 5.

The weekend’s big events are a Craft Beer Festival from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, featuring entertainment, food and unlimited tastings (!) from some of the top craft breweries from SoCal and beyond; and a beer brunch at 11 a.m. on Sunday, featuring six beer-inspired and beer-paired courses—plus starting and ending beers, too.

Passes for the Saturday festival are $35, and the Sunday brunch will set you back $55—or do both for just $70. Attendees who book a room for the weekend get into the festival for free.

Get tickets and more info at www.acehotel.com/calendar/palmsprings/craft-beer-weekend-18.


In Brief

The Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, at 32250 Bob Hope Drive, in Rancho Mirage, has announced it has adopted new technology from a company called ORCA Digesters, Inc., that turns food waste into water. This will keep an estimated 624 tons (!) of food out of landfills each year. Awesome! … The Libation Room is now open at 73750 El Paseo, in Palm Desert. The new cocktail bar promises a speakeasy type of vibe; check it out Tuesday through Saturday from 4:30 p.m. on. For more information, call 877-869-8891, or visit www.libationroom.com. … The Manhattan in the Desert in Palm Desert, at 74225 Highway 111, has apparently closed. The Palm Springs location, at 2665 E. Palm Canyon Drive, is still alive and kicking. … One of the most happening outdoor-dining spots in downtown Palm Springs has been temporarily closed for a “facelift.” The patio at Tropicale, at 244 E. Amado Road, was closed on July 9 for a remodel that “should take about three weeks,” although the indoor bar and dining room remains open during construction. Depending on how that goes, and when you’re reading this, it may have reopened already! Call 760-866-1952 with questions.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

Help the Desert AIDS Project by Dining Out for Life on April 26

Thursday, April 26, is one of my favorite foodie days of the year.

It’s not a day featuring a lot of great deals and food specials; instead, it’s a day during which local restaurants and their customers (i.e., you) do a lot of good for the community.

April 26 is this year’s date for Dining Out for Life, the annual fundraising extravaganza for the Desert AIDS Project and other HIV/AIDS service organizations around the country. It’s simple, really: On that day, restaurants across the Coachella Valley have agreed to donate anywhere between 33 and 110 percent of their sales to DAP.

It really is simple: All you do is go out to eat, like you probably would anyway—and DAP gets a big chunk of whatever you spend. (If you feel like you must do more than simply eat out, never fear: Many participating locations also have donation envelopes available.)

My friends at DAP tell me that even though the Coachella Valley is one of the smaller markets in which Dining Out for Life takes place, it’s one of the larger markets in terms of money raised. Last year, we ranked No. 3 in North America—and this year, the folks at DAP are keeping their fingers crossed for a jump to No. 2. Our li’l community does so well, in part, because of the generosity of some large and very busy restaurants: Lulu California Bistro (donating 50 percent), TRIO (donating 60 percent) and Spencer’s (donating 75 percent) generally rank near the top of the continent-wide list in terms of the amount of money donated.

However, it is most certainly not all about the big places: The biggest generosity, in many ways, comes from the smaller, mom-and-pop places. Rooster and the Pig and Ristretto are both donating 100 percent of their sales on April 26 to DAP—while Townie Bagels is giving a whopping 110 percent.

On Dining Out for Life day, you’ll be able to find me at a half-dozen or so—maybe more—participating restaurants throughout the day: having bagels, coffee, lunch, a mid-afternoon snack, dinner, a post-dinner snack and then probably a few drinks. Follow my exploits via the Coachella Valley Independent Facebook page.

Please join me for Dining Out for Life on April 26. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: It’s literally the least you can do.

Visit www.diningoutforlife.com/palmsprings for a complete and constantly updated list of restaurants and their donation percentages.


In Brief

The much, much delayed opening of Grand Central Palm Springs, a restaurant and event space in La Plaza in downtown Palm Springs, is apparently close. Yeah, we’ve heard this several times before over the last two years, but co-owner Rita Capponi is so confident it’s actually happening this time that she gave me a “firm” opening date: May 1. More details to come; watch www.grandcentralpalmsprings.com for updates. … Alicante, the tapas-themed restaurant at 140 S. Palm Canyon Drive, in downtown Palm Springs, is gearing up for a name and theme change. Revel Public House will offer sports, great food and lots of drink, led by three new exclusive beers brewed by San Marcos’ Mason Ale Works—under the name Palm Springs Brewing Co. Visit the brand-new Revel Facebook page for details. … Draughtsman, at 1501 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, just started a new late-night menu. “Late Night at Draughtsman” takes place from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., Wednesday through Sunday. The menu includes fare such as Cauliflower “McNuggets” ($9) and a braised pork belly banh mi ($14), along with late-night beer specials and frequent entertainment. Get more info at draughtsmanpalmsprings.com. … The owners of CCBC—a gay, clothing-optional resort and play place (*ahem*)—have announced plans to build an adjoining 2,560-square-foot restaurant, called Runway; it’ll also have a 568-square-foot dining patio. We cannot wait to see this! See plans at www.ccedd.org/project/ccbc-resort-runway-restaurant. … Try (hopefully) great chili and benefit the Cathedral City Senior Center from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, April 7. The annual Chili Cook-Off takes place at the Big Lots Center at Highway 111 and Date Palm Drive; $20 gets you chili tastings and a box lunch from Aspen Mills. Yum! Find more details at www.cathedralcenter.org. … And now, in the “Why in the hell not?” category: The Village Pub Palm Springs, at 266 S. Palm Canyon Drive, has launched two new food challenges. On Wednesdays, you can try one of two challenges: Eat 10 blazing wings in five minutes ($13); or gobble down one pound of potato chips and two pounds of fish with homemade beer batter in 10 minutes ($30). Beat the challenge, and the food is free. Hmm. Learn more about the “Village Idiot Food Challenge”—and see if any idiots actually succeed—at www.facebook.com/villagepubpalmsprings.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

Welcome to the bar lull, the time when thirsty, hard-working citizens’ insidious New Year’s resolutions interfere with my ability to ply them with high-quality wares.

Is your humble bar correspondent succumbing to such self-deception? No, no false resolutions for me. Instead, I am using the New Year to explore some new-to-me places—perhaps making a questionable decision or two along the way.

My first stop of the evening was an early dinner at Rooster and the Pig (356 S. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs). I would be lying if I said that I was going there for cocktails and not for the food, and this brings up an important issue: There are great restaurants all over the country without a full liquor license. I imagine that for every over-ambitious restaurant popping up with a confused menu and an unnecessarily overwrought craft-cocktail program, there are 10 places without a full liquor license making focused and passionate cuisine—and it is always interesting to see what bartenders can do with wine, sake, lillet, etc., when forced to compromise.

Bartender Trish mixed me a Green Lantern—a tasty mix of cilantro, cucumber, lime and what chef/owner Tai referred to as “gin-ish,” a 20-proof non-distilled gin. Boozy? Well, no, but it was oh-so refreshing. It went down smooth, like an agua fresca or a green smoothie, hold the kale. The freshness complemented the flavors of plate after plate of Vietnamese-American cuisine and accompanying sriracha. This seems like it could also be a great non-alcoholic drink—perhaps for you “resolution” people. If you are looking for boozy, they clued me in about some exciting plans for the near future, so stay tuned.

Belly full, I went to meet some friends at the Dråughtsman (1501 N. Palm Canyon Drive). I was anxiously waiting for this place to open—like everyone else, it seems. Unlike everyone else, it seems, I waited to check it out. (I hate waiting for bar seats, as you might know.) Despite my gluttony at Rooster and the Pig, Paul and Robbie behind the bar convinced me to try some “off the menu” pretzel bites with ale-cheese sauce—who could say no to that? Thinking I required Irish whiskey, because I often require Irish whiskey, I ordered the Delorean. This is a mixture of Powers whiskey, lemon, house Irish cream, Guinness syrup and sarsaparilla bitters. It came out with spices grated on top—looking quite like a dessert cocktail or eggnog. The looks were deceiving, however, because the flavor was bright, with citrus as the main note, whiskey coming through, and the cream just adding a little mouth-feel. It drinks like a whiskey sour with an Irish-American twist.

Knowing this was a Chad Austin menu (best known as the drink engineer of Bootlegger Tiki), I went for a rum drink next. The Tubular Dude is Banks 7 rum, Cynar 70, pineapple gomme syrup and tiki bitters served over a large ice cube. It’s part tiki old-fashioned, part stripped-down Jungle Bird—a 1970’s tiki classic from the Aviary Bar in Kuala Lumpur that features Campari and pineapple, also one of my favorites. If you are looking for a sweet and sour tiki drink, look elsewhere; this one is for an amaro fan, a Negroni lover. Don’t fret if you don’t like bitter; it looks like they have options on the menu for all kinds of palates, and a really nice back bar to boot!

I finished the evening at a nearby dive bar, not to be named by (possibly tongue-in-cheek) request. Some kind soul with a Prince Valiant haircut bought the bar a round, in between muttering to himself and watching TV. Two 21-year-olds celebrated their new legal tippling with Flaming Dr. Peppers and Incredible Hulks (Hennessy and Hpnotiq … yeah, I started my bartending career in a nightclub) amongst other drinks with which I am not so familiar.

Here’s a poorly kept secret: Craft bartenders don’t always drink craft. When I see a round of sugary, hangover-inducing booze-bombs appear and think about the year gone by, I often say: “To hell with it; give me one of those!” I ask the bartender what’s in it, he says: “Alcohol!” Fair enough!

I put a ’90s hip-hop song on the jukebox. One of the guys says, “You like this music? You must be my mom’s age!”

Cut to the next day. My head was in a proverbial vice, and I walked the rainy streets of Palm Springs in search of a remedy. I pulled up a table for one at Farm (6 La Plaza), where the rain, chansons d’amour and rustic ambience transported me away from downtown Palm Springs and last night’s follies. I ordered a Bloody Mary—advertised on the menu as the best in town, with jalapeño-infused vodka, house-made hot sauce and bacon.

An aside about the Bloody Mary: Nearly every time I order one, I wish I’d ordered something else. At best, I like the first one and order a second, and I generally regret the second one. Why? Well, most of them are horrid. The mix has sat too long, congealing the horseradish and tomato into an astringent gel, with the vodka drawing those offensive flavors out and delivering them straight to the palate. The tabasco sauce turns the whole thing to a vinegary mess, garnished with a pale stick of what was at one point celery, limply hanging over the side of the glass. I made my living for a period hawking Bloody Marys to hungover tourists, so I am a tough critic. Still, it is one of the most popular cocktails around, so I would be remiss to ignore it.

After all that, I must say … this was a darned tasty Bloody Mary! The jalapeño was subtle; the tomato juice was thin, not pasty. The horseradish, if there (the server wasn’t sure, but I thought I tasted a tiny bit), wasn’t overbearing, and the hot sauce wasn’t just vinegar. The drink tasted super fresh and light, rare for the species. Only complaint: Bacon should stay dry and never go into the drink. Nobody wants soggy bacon.

So … is it the best in town? Let’s go find out!

Just kidding … I know better than to push my luck. Instead, I am going to make myself my a Oaxacan Brunch, a great way to get rid of that leftover sage (and hangover) from the holidays.

• 2 ounces of mezcal

• 1 ounce of lime juice

• 1 ounce of simple syrup (1:1 sugar and water)

• 1 egg white

• Fresh sage

Muddle several leaves of sage into the simple syrup in the small tin of a metal shaker (the back of a spoon works nicely), and add the rest of the ingredients. Shake without ice, and then with ice. Pour on the rocks, and garnish with a sage leaf. Enjoy with an omelet … and Happy (Belated) New Year!

Kevin Carlow is a bartender at Seymour’s/Mr. Lyons and can be reached via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Published in Cocktails

The first Coachella Valley Beer Week—which I helped create—recently wrapped up after 10 days of craft-beer events all over the valley. On Nov. 14, the Indio BBQ and Beer Competition took place, and on that same day, La Quinta Brewing celebrated its second anniversary.

Now that these excellent events are over, where in the Coachella Valley can you go to enjoy the ever-expanding craft-beer revolution?

The Ace Hotel and Swim Club keeps up with trends in music, art, food and drink, and the folks in charge have updated the Amigo Room to carry more craft beer again. You can enjoy them in the dim, cavernous space, or brighten up by the pool.

In the northernmost reaches of Palm Desert, you’ll find the beloved La Quinta Brewing Co. and its taproom. On any given evening, you may find a local band playing, or women enjoying Koffi Porter ice cream floats during Ladies Night. The Heat Wave Amber and Tan Line Brown Ale beers recently returned, and the Napoleon barrel-aged beer was released for the brewery’s second anniversary. The biggest news of all: La Quinta Brewing just opened a taproom in Old Town La Quinta!

In Rancho Mirage, Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse has been serving up barbecue (just voted as the valley’s best by Independent readers) and craft beer since 2002. Try the award-winning Belgian Vanilla Blonde Ale, brewed with raisins and whole Madagascar bourbon vanilla beans. Babe’s also offers new, seasonal brews and a nice selection of other Southern California beers in the restaurant bar. Keep an eye out for the recently released DIPA, a hoppy pilsner, as well as an apricot tripel.

Babe’s neighbor at The River, the Yard House features 155 beers on tap. I’ve recently met knowledgeable bartenders there who will guide you in the right sudsy direction.

Schmidy’s Tavern is a favorite in Palm Desert among the younger crowd. Live music is a constant, and the pool tables are typically full. Enjoy beers on tap like Bell’s Midwestern Pale Ale, Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale and Ironfire Outcast Dead Barrel Aged Imperial Red Ale.

Up Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs is a restaurant offering a farm-to-concrete-table dining experience that’s industrial chic and progressive. While the menu at Workshop Kitchen + Bar is heavy with cocktails and duck fat, the spot also offers a nice selection of beer. With a 34-foot-long concrete communal table and lofty wood-trussed cathedral ceiling, you may feel as if you’re sharing beer steins in Bavaria.

A little closer to the heart of downtown Palm Springs is Bar. The street-art-friendly, chalet-inspired watering hole serves classic cocktails and a nice sampling of Southern California craft beers. Try the Picnic Eggs—deviled eggs with Sriracha and wasabi—with the War Gin beer cocktail, with gin and lemon honey pale ale.

The spirit of Sinatra is alive at the Purple Room Restaurant and Stage—but unlike hangouts of the ’60s, this swanky supper club offers a great selection of craft beers. In bottles, you can enjoy San Diego beers like Ballast Point Longfin Lager and Stone Pale Ale. On tap, enjoy CVB’s Desert Swarm, Babe’s Blackfin Lager, La Quinta’s Poolside Blonde and many other brews

Fame Lounge is an upscale cigar, wine and microbrew lounge located in the heart of downtown Palm Springs. At the bar, you’ll find a rotation of beers on tap. Recent finds: Stone Wootstout 2.0 and North Coast Indica IPA.

On Indian Canyon Drive, check out the progressive Vietnamese-American beer bar Rooster and the Pig. Try the banh mi burger with one of the California craft beers on draft. Chef/owner Tai Spendley also has a nice variety of Vietnamese beers in bottles.

What happens when you combine traditional Tokyo cuisine with American and Japanese craft beer? You get the upscale-casual Gyoro Gyoro, at Tahquitz Canyon Way and Palm Canyon Drive. The spot offers a nice selection of craft beers from the states and Japan, along with a variety of fantastic sake.

Beloved farm-to-table brewery Coachella Valley Brewing Co. also celebrated its second anniversary recently. Sustainability, creativity and passion are key ingredients in these exceptional beers. Be sure to check out head brewer Chris Anderson’s sour program, as well as the brewery’s Profligate Society, which features rare beers. Palms to Pines, the ever-popular Triple IPA brewed with locally foraged spruce tips and coconut palm sugar, will be released around mid-December.

On Highway 111 in Indian Wells, you’ll find So Cal chain Eureka! Currently, Eureka! boasts 20 impressive taps ranging from Stone’s Barrel Aged Brown Ale with Balaton Sour Cherries to Mother Earth’s Imagination Land. Watch for great beer-pairing events.

The Stuft Pizza locations in Palm Desert and La Quinta have become hot spots for watching the game and sipping your favorite suds. The “not just pizza” joint in Palm Desert has 15 taps, two of which rotate with the latest craft seasonals. There’s a reason why pizza and beer are a match made in heaven: The acids and tannins in wine tend to amplify the acidity of tomato dishes.

Wherever you go … take time to savor your beer and enjoy the craft-beer revolution! 

Published in Beer

The Falls Steakhouse, R.I.P.

The Falls, the steakhouse known for its gorgeous downtown Palm Springs views and bubbling martinis (thanks to the addition of dry ice), has closed for good.

“After 15 years, we have closed the doors of The Falls,” reads a message on the restaurant’s website. “Our lease was up, and we decided to pursue other interests. It has been a privilege serving Palm Springs for so long.”

The Independent sent a message via The Falls’ Facebook page seeking further comment, but had not yet received a response as of our press deadline.

As is the case when any long-tenured restaurant closes its doors, the demise of The Falls saddened many people who spent special times there. I first learned of the closure from a friend on Facebook who was bemoaning the fact that he could not go there to celebrate his anniversary with his husband; I personally have fond memories of a memorable New Year’s Eve dinner there.

However, life goes on. We’ll keep our eyes on this prime space, at 155 S. Palm Canyon Drive—overlooking the Sonny Bono statue—to see what comes next.

Plate | Glass Moving To Rancho Mirage; Slated to Reopen in 2016

Larry Abel and Raymond McCallister shocked a lot of people with their recent announcement that they were moving their Raymond | Lawrence store from uptown Palm Springs to, of all places, The River in Rancho Mirage.

Turns out they’re taking their Plate | Glass restaurant with them.

The dessert and small-plates bar and restaurant, on the second floor at 301 N. Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs, closed suddenly in early July, with a promise from owners Abel and McCallister that Plate | Glass would be back in October. It became apparent several weeks ago that such would not be the case, when “for lease” signs appeared at the space.

However, on Oct. 22, Abel and McCallister announced that Plate | Glass would join Raymond | Lawrence and their other popular business, Party Lab, in their large new space at The River, located at 71800 Highway 111 in Rancho Mirage.

“In early 2016, Plate | Glass will return to its original concept, offering desserts, coffee and cocktails,” said a news release.

Raymond | Lawrence and Party Lab will celebrate a grand opening from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 5. As for Plate | Glass, watch www.facebook.com/plateglassps for updates.

In Brief

So•Pa, the restaurant that’s been gaining acclaim at the L’Horizon Resort and Spa thanks in part to the fact that its chef, Giacomo Pettinari, has a Michelin star to his credit, is now open for all three meals of the day. The resort is located at 1050 E. Palm Canyon Drive; open your wallets, and head to lhorizonpalmsprings.com/sopa-restaurant for menus and other details. … Rooster and the Pig, one of the area’s most talked-about new restaurants thanks to its intriguing fusion of Vietnamese-American fare, is temporarily closed for renovations and repairs. Keep your fingers crossed for a re-opening at 355 S. Indian Canyon Drive sometime in November. Watch Rooster and the Pig’s Facebook page for the latest news. … We’re hearing rumors that the former Dink’s space, at 2080 N. Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs, may be getting closer to a reopening with a new name and revamped concept. Of course, we’ve heard similar rumors before. We’ll keep you posted. … Mark your calendars for the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce’s Business Expo and Taste of Palm Springs, taking place from 5 to 9 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 10, at Colony 29, located at 147 S. Tahquitz Drive, up against the mountain in downtown Palm Springs. More than 25 area restaurants will be participating. Entrance to the expo is free, but wristbands that allow participants to taste food are $10; if you want beer and wine as well, it’ll cost you $25. Get details and buy wristbands at pschamber.org. … Meanwhile, down in Indio, the inaugural Indio California State BBQ Championship and Festival is slated to take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 14, at The Lights at Indio Golf Course, at 83040 Avenue 42. Up to 50 of the state’s best pit-masters are set to battle for a prize pool of up to $10,000. Live music and craft beer will be on offer at the event. Admission is free, although we’d be surprised if there’s not a charge for food and drink. Get more info by calling the Indio Chamber of Commerce at 760-347-0676, or visiting www.discoverindio.com.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

Closed: 3rd Corner Wine Shop and Bistro

The busy season is over—and that means this is the time of year when some restaurants on the edge financially will decide to close up shop rather than brave another Coachella Valley summer.

One of the first casualties of the (unofficial) summer of 2015: the 3rd Corner Wine Shop and Bistro, which was located at 73101 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. It closed on Sunday, April 19.

In a news release, owner Ed Moore blamed the seasonality of business in the Coachella Valley for his decision to close the Palm Desert 3rd Corner, which opened in June 2010.

“Unlike our other two very successful restaurants in Ocean Beach and Encinitas, our Palm Desert location is a highly seasonal location which does very well in the winter and early spring, but struggles, like many restaurants in the Coachella Valley, during the summer and fall,” Moore said. “The seasonality of the market coupled with the fact that our restaurant lease is expiring has prompted us to close down our Palm Desert location.”

The aforementioned Ocean Beach and Encinitas locations of 3rd Corner remain open. For more information, visit www.the3rdcorner.com.

New: Rooster and the Pig

Rooster and the Pig, a “Vietnamese American Beer Bar” located in the old Café Scandia space at 356 S. Indian Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, is now open.

We didn’t get a chance to check out the place in person before our press deadline, but the menu posted on the restaurant’s website offers some intriguing Vietnamese-themed fare, including tumeric chicken, mushrooms and gai lan (aka Chinese broccoli) over forbidden rice; a banh mi burger; and sweet-and-sour vegetable soup with pineapple, tomato, cilantro and sprouts. These yummy treats come courtesy of chef Tai Spendley, whose influences are listed on the website as “French technique, Asian heritage and bi-coastal gallivanting.”

The website also includes this tidbit: “The Rooster, of course, wants to be in charge, and that suits the hard working, No. 2-preferring Pig just fine. The practical-minded Rooster has clear and detailed vision, and the Pig gleefully helps carry out the Rooster’s plans.”

We don’t know what that means, but we find it utterly fascinating.

Learn more by calling 760-832-6691, or visit www.roosterandthepig.com.

In Brief

Palm Springs Desert Resorts Restaurant Week is here—or at least it is as of Friday, May 29. The annual celebration of all things food and drink in the Coachella Valley runs through Sunday, June 7; during that time, participating restaurants will be offering three-course prix-fixe menus for either $26 or $38. Watch www.palmspringsrestaurantweek.com for a list of participating restaurants, menus and more. … Congratulations to Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse, located at The River, at 71800 Highway 111, in Rancho Mirage. The granddaddy of local craft brewers celebrated its 13th anniversary in April. … The folks at Bart Lounge, the bar and art gallery located at 67555 E. Palm Canyon Drive, No. F-124, in Cathedral City, tell us the much-anticipated joint will be opening its doors on Friday, May 1. A big name will be present, in a way, for the bar’s opening month: The art of film great Tim Burton is on display. Get details at www.facebook.com/bartlounge. ... In other bar news: The space that once housed Clinic and, briefly, Hester, at 188 S. Indian Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, is now home to Tryst. It shares ownership and management with Score, a bar just around the corner on Arenas Road. Get more details at www.facebook.com/pages/Tryst-Bar-and-Lounge/867474949983973. ... Congrats to Johannes Restaurant, located at 196 S. Indian Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs—for my money, one of the top restaurants in Palm Springs. Mimi Sheraton, a former restaurant critic for The New York Times, included Johannes Bacher’s schnitzel in her book 1,000 Foods to Eat Before You Die. … Update: The demolition of the building that was home to Bernie’s Lounge and Supper Club, at 292 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, finally took place in April. The building was destroyed by a Christmas Day 2014 fire; keep your fingers crossed for a late-fall opening of Bernie’s 2.0 in a brand-new building at the same location. … The Steakhouse at the Spa Resort Casino, located at 401 E. Amado Road in Palm Springs, has a new executive chef: Kieran Fleming. He’s a veteran of Hyatt properties in San Diego and Indian Wells, and spent five years at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa. 

Published in Restaurant & Food News

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