By Raymond Bill

Finally! It’s my favorite time of year! The weather is perfect and all of our seasonal restaurants have reopened. I can’t think of a better way to enjoy the beginning of the season than a Sunday Brunch. While some prefer a buffet style meal, I prefer a coursed meal with plenty of refreshing champagne. There are many venues for such an occasion but recently, I heard that Le Vallauris in Palm Springs is celebrating their 40th season.

Although I have never been before, I had heard from many that I would not be disappointed.

Located at the west end of Tahquitz Canyon, Le Vallauris is tucked away, sheltered by lush, well-maintained trees. My date and I were seated outside in the fresh open air with plenty of shade from the surrounding trees. The maître d’ was welcoming and professional in attire and demeanor. Our server was genuine and engaging. It is the kind of atmosphere that puts a smile on your face. We were greeted with fresh baked bread and butter and almost immediately, we were offered champagne. The menu was presented on a sandwich board, placed near us for viewing. I wondered if the food would surpass the exquisite ambiance.

The brunch menu is a three course meal, including dessert. I was impressed with the variety in selections and decided to order something outside the box. I began with a wild boar pate with pistachio, served with crisp endives and pickled vegetables. The flavors all came together intensely. It was not only incredibly delicious, but presented artistically. My date would begin with a beet and apple salad. The beets were fresh, diced and prepared in a cylindrical manner on the plate. It was both delicious and visually appealing.

For my main course, fresh Halibut with a nicoise salsa including diced olives and capers, accompanied by roasted eggplant. It was truly impressive. The fish was flaky and light, pairing well with the savory topping. Across from me, my date was raving about her more traditional brunch selection, eggs benedict with thinly sliced prosciutto and asparagus. I could not resist her offer to taste her dish. While happy with my selection, I will need to return for the eggs benedict! Simply amazing. The champagne continued to flow and our day felt like a vacation from home.

When desserts arrived, I was convinced there was some serious culinary talent in the kitchen and was honored when I had the opportunity to meet the chef and thank him personally. We enjoyed a duo of chocolate mousse as well as their “Floating Island,” a light cloud of meringue atop delicious crème anglaise with fresh strawberries. It was the perfect end to an amazing meal and experience. I left wondering how I had missed this amazing gem that has been successful for 40 years!

Le Vallauris is open nightly and lunch will now be available so be sure to visit them soon. I’m sure reservations are a must, as this will likely be a full restaurant through season! I look forward to many more visits as this could quite easily become my new favorite! View sample menus at www.levallauris.com or call 760-325-5059

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