By Judith Salkin
Chef/owner Mindy Reed now has the Palm Springs restaurant community covered from A to Z.
When she and her late partner, Chef Nicolas Klontz, opened Zin American Bistro in 2005, the pair served up a mix of French, American and Belgian cuisine accompanied by Reed’s love and knowledge of wines and desserts that made the restaurant an instant hit. It’s still a popular place to dine for locals and visitors.
Four years later the pair added to the restaurant scene with Zini Café Mediterrano, in 2009, they added a taste of the southern Spanish coast to their flavor range.
Unfortunately, Klontz died shortly after Zini opened and for the next four years Reed and her staff at both restaurants helped to direct confused guests between the two spaces that are less than a block apart. Keeping two restaurants going is a tough job for anyone, but Reed worked through her grief and made a success of both restaurants.
Last year, Reed and her father redesigned Zin, opening up the dining room and making the patio more welcoming that it previously was.
This spring Reed turned her attention to Zini and made the decision to finally give the site its own distinct food and wine personality.
Rebranded as Alicante in March, the restaurant now reflects the seafood, meats and fowl of the area of Spain known in the past as a haven for Barbary pirates, northern Africa, France and Italy.
Little has changed in the structure of the restaurant, and dining on Alicante’s patio is still one of the best seats in the house.
When it comes to the wine list, it relies heavily on Spanish and South American wines. There are a fair number of wines available by the glass and divided by price at $6, $8 and $10 per glass or $20, $30 and $40 per bottle. For wines not offered by the glass, most are available by the glass if at least two people at the table are ordering the same wine.
The bar also offers house cocktails like the refreshing cucumber gimlet ($12) or the blood orange mojito ($10), that are both light summer drinks.
In addition to the breakfast, lunch and dinners, Alicante offers a tapas menu that’s available until the restaurant closes.
As for the food, it shows Reed’s own adventurous tastes. Start the day with typical Spanish breakfast of fried breadcrumbs ($11) with Spanish ham, eggs, peppers, chorizo and fried breadcrumbs or the potato omelet ($11) with thinly sliced potatoes, eggs, asparagus, caramelized onions and Manchego cheese.
Pizzas ($12 to $13), available for lunch or dinner, have thin, crispy crusts that stay that way with a light layer of sauce and smattering of toppings that weigh the delicate dough platters down. Favorites are the vegetarian with artichoke hearts, onions and roasted peppers or the funghi with mushrooms and Grana Padano cheese.
For seafood lovers, the Zarzuela de mariscos ($17) is a hearty mélange of fresh fish and shellfish in a rich tomato, fennel and saffron broth. The fish tangine ($20) with tomatoes and capers takes dinners to Tangiers with its North African flavors.
If you’re into stretching your culinary boundaries, there is a simple veal and ricotta meatballs ($14) with a light tomato sauce or a savory hanger steak ($23) with garlic, haricot verts and patatas bravas, the slightly spicy roasted potato wedges served with several of the entrees.
For an interesting twist on this regional menu, try the pollo alla Diavola ($18) with Macadamia nut crusted chicken scaloppini in a spicy tomato sauce with Spanish anchovies to add a salty kick to the dish. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, there are options on all of Alicante’s menu without having to search for them.
What: Alicante Spanish Mediterranean Cuisine
Where: 140 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs
Information: (760) 325-9464; alicanteps.com