By Rick Riozza
The 2016 Greater Palm Springs Restaurant Week is here; and now the time has come for all good foodies and vino lovers to come to the aid of their appetite. Actually, the food celebrations and festivities go on for ten days running from June 3rd to June 12th.
In the desert here, we no longer save our pennies for a rainy day—they never come, but we do save them for this moment in time to seek out and enjoy all of the wonderful restaurants that have been on our list for months.
I hear that there are some 100 participating restaurants, attractions, spas, and hotels in the Coachella Valley all rejoicing in the merriments and gastronomic pleasures of the greater Palm Springs week.
All you food addicts will no doubt go to the easy-to-navigate website, VisitGreaterPalmSprings.com, to chill and to cherry-pick the city, cuisine and price of your prospective cookery’s menu. In addition make dinner or hotel reservations direct from the site, and get exact locations.
At participating restaurants, with prix fixe prices at $28, $38, or, at the new $48 price point, plan to enjoy a three-course meal, while taking the opportunity to survey up-and-coming chefs’ cuisine, dine at romantic bistros or re-visit your favorite chef’s pièce de résistance.
Ubi bonum cibum, bonum vinum—where there is good food, there is good wine! Often times, progressive foodies will check out the wine deals before considering the cuisine—which may well influence the meal chosen. Below, are some recommendations of Restaurant Week participants that also showcase wine-by-the-glass and great bottle prices:
Lulu California Bistro in Palm Springs has one of the more extensive “wines by the glass” list to accompany the Restaurant Week Menu and other dinner menus. The Lulu 4-course dinner is offered for $38, and includes many of the finest items from Lulu’s dinner menu. Highlights include beautiful 12 oz Veal Chop, Prime New York Steak, and Premium Grilled Pork Chop; Lobster Salad, and Half Roasted Duck. Soup, Appetizers & Dessert plates abound.
Very good wines for very good interests include: the very refreshing Cakebread Sauvignon Blanc from Napa Valley at $15.99 that will pair beautifully with the Lobster Salad; Cuvaison Chardonnay, Napa Valley, at $14.99; back again with Cakebread, this time their Napa Valley Chardonnay at $17.99; the pervasive Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio at $12.99; a tasty Chalone Pinot Noir from Monterey will well complement the Roasted Duck at only $8.49; the most tasty Markham Merlot from Napa at $13.59; and, although I’ve yet to pair this combo, it’s my educated guess that the Prime New York Steak will match perfectly with Napa Valley’s Educated Guess Cabernet Sauvignon at only $12.99.
Johnny Costa’s Ristorante: I’m thinking that most people in our valley know already that the esteemed Johnny Costa served as Frank Sinatra’s personal chef back in the day. And that connection continues to stir us patrons every time we walk into the Iconic Palm Springs Italian restaurant.
Going gaga over Executive Chef Vince Costa’s authentic cuisine is what we Italians do. For Restaurant Week, here’s a selected look at his $38 3-Course Dinner list: For starters, look for the Mozzarella Bocconcini Salad and the world famous Pasta Fagioli. The entrées include Pollo alla Florentine, Eggplant Parmigiana & Cheese Ravioli, Halibut Filet, and of course, the renowned 6oz. filet steak topped with “Sinatra Sauce’—sautéed garlic, mushrooms, and bell peppers in a wine sauce, served with a side of fresh vegetables. Delicioso!
And here’s one of my favorite things about the vino at Costa’s: Amongst so many others, they carry one of the most beloved bottles in town—the Travaglini Gattinara at a great bottle price. They also have red and white wines, both Italian and Californian for only $10 a glass.
Another great eatery that owns one of the largest restaurant wine cellars in Palm Springs is Johannes Restaurant. Executive Chef and owner Johannes Bacher is known as the “Eclectic Chef, and has been deemed one of the country’s top culinary talents in the publication Best Chefs America.
Definitely the artist-type in the kitchen, call it “Inventive Euro-Austrian Cuisine with a Global Twist”—if you need a handle on his métier. His $48 Three-Course Restaurant Week menu includes the likes of Fried Oysters & Ahi Tartare; Escargot, Asparagus & Sweetbread Roses with Garlic Lemon Herb Sauce; and Raw Beet Ravioli, Cashew Ricotta Cheese, Pistachios, Scallions, Micro Herbs with Yellow Bell Pepper Purée; and that’s just for starters!
His entrées include: Spinach & Crayfish Stuffed Grouper; Pretzel and Horseradish Crusted Natural Pork Chop; and Sautéed Prawns in Virgin Olive Oil, Soft Polenta and Snow Peas. Is this guy the bomb or what! Also look for Johannes’ Vegan, vegetarian and Signature dishes available every night.
As mentioned, the restaurant’s international wine list boasts of more than 400 wine selections with over 40 listed by the glass! And great house wine for $8 a glass.
At only $28 for their Restaurant Week menu, check out Trio Restaurant “Where Palm Springs Eats”. Some of the most popular items served at this restaurant are being offered such as Roasted Baby Beet Salad, Caesar Salad Wedge, Baby Kale Salad, and Seafood Cocktail; entrées such as Pan Roasted Halibut, Pork Tenderloin, Skirt Steak, or Vegetarian entrée ; and desserts such as House-made Chocolate Brownies or Bread Pudding.
The above 3-Couse meal is a $44 value! So—how to spend your $16 in savings? On a glass of wine of course! With choices like Whispering Angel Rosé, Provence , France at $12; Summerland, Santa Barbara Cabernet Sauvignon at $12; Sonoma Cutrer, ‘Russian River Ranches’ Sonoma Chardonnay at $14; Argyle Willamette Valley Pinot Noir at $16; or, nearly three dozen additional choices from just $6 a glass!
We’ll cover more venues next week. Bon Appétit & Cheers!