By Raymond Bill
Most desert residents are familiar with Indian Wells Golf Resort and the IW Club but many are unaware that this is a golf and dining venue open to the public. While the name may seem to imply exclusivity, this is an attraction we are all fortunate enough to enjoy. Recently, there have been some exciting changes to the IW Club, starting with their name. Now known as Vue Grille & Bar, this Vue with a View offers plates as artistic as the surrounding scenery. With a new Executive Chef focusing on local, farm to table ingredients with a hint of molecular gastronomy, Vue is sure to be the hot spot this season. Recently, I was treated to a chef’s tasting luncheon where I sampled some new items from their seasonal menu. All I can say is, “Wow!”
So, what kind of food can you expect to enjoy at this restaurant? From Prime cuts of beef from Brandt Farms to fresh seafood and sashimi, Vue Grille & Bar has a variety of items with many cultural and geographic influences. We began with a sashimi plate of the freshest fish I have had in this desert. Salmon that melts in your mouth, yellowtail and ahi that still have that fresh salty sea taste, and tender octopus, calamari and even flounder, were all plated together with traditional accompaniment. It reminds me of a time when I went sport fishing in Mexico and tasted fresh yellowtail on the boat just after I reeled it in. Truly impressive quality.
After savoring the fresh sashimi, we continued with small plates that boasted bold flavors. Local Medjool dates filled with gorgonzola and served over thinly sliced apple were placed before me, to be followed by a beet salad that is unparalleled in this valley. The dates were delicious and rich, the sweet date and touch of honey balanced the savory cheese while the crisp apple and endive provided texture and complexity. The beet salad would showcase ruby and golden beets as well as a candied beet chip accented with honey “pearls” and beet “soil,” made from dehydrated beets and pistachio powder. I’m sure there’s much more to it than that but a good chef keeps a few secrets of his or her own.
The next two plates would prove to be my favorites. A large seared diver scallop with bok choy and confit fennel finished with a sea urchin emulsion and puffed black rice. The flavors and textures were simply perfection. This was to be followed by what could be described as a, “deconstructed chowder” of fresh pan seared local seabass and Manila clams with heirloom carrots, cipollini onion and chunks of pork belly in a chowder sauce. This dish was delicate, sophisticated and almost too beautiful to eat. Almost.
When the Filet Mignon arrived over creamed spinach and roasted garlic with fingerling potatoes and grilled lemon, I knew there was no dessert in my near future. I managed to savor every bite of the most tender, perfectly cooked and presented cut of beef I have laid a fork on. A perfect sear to the meat and a red center that was present through the entire cut left me speechless. I’m used to steakhouses justifying their improperly cooked entrees by suggesting that I cut through the very center of the steak to find the desired temperature, but Chef Cale has mastered the art of preparing a quality steak. What a treat indeed!
Throughout our meal, a very talented mixologist, well versed in the history of cocktails, presented to us samples of creative alcoholic beverages that were well paired with our courses. It was a fun experience and I look forward to revisiting these beverages when I visit their large bar, perhaps during happy hour which is offered 7 days each week. Vue Grille & Bar (formerly the IW Club) is located in Indian Wells, east of Cook Street on Highway 111. Don’t miss out on this hot new spot in the Coachella Valley.