By Daniel Paris
The Coachella Valley is home to several French restaurants. The French Rotisserie is the closest to an authentic urban bistro experience I have encountered outside of Paris. Upon entering, we were greeted with an elegant, inviting atmosphere. The bustling kitchen is in view behind the counter seating. The layout of the tables, the draped window coverings, the glow of candlelight and fresh flowers on every table set the scene for a memorable experience.
Wait staff promptly appear to welcome us and invite questions regarding the menu and wine offerings. The menu features organic rotisserie chicken and duck mains along with bistro classics such as steak frites, scallops, beef bourguignon, bouillabaisse, mussels and frites. First courses include French onion soup, escargot, pate, several salads and cheese and charcuterie plates. Wines are primarily French with a few domestic choices with many offered by the glass. The staff is familiar with the wine list and is able to offer food-pairing recommendations.
The appearance of crusty French baguette with herbed butter signaled the start of our meal. We ordered a watermelon, citrus and arugula salad. It arrived dressed with a light vinaigrette. The fruits and greens were fresh and flavorful and primed our anticipation for our main courses. I ordered the seared salmon filet with scalloped potatoes. My companion ordered the rotisserie chicken with creamy mashed potatoes and carrots roasted in thyme butter. The chicken was moist and infused with a deep, savory herbal flavor. The salmon filet was draped with a light, buttery béarnaise sauce and seared to a requested medium rare. The sides were well seasoned and maintained their unique flavors and textures. We finished with a chocolate mousse with a silky texture and a deep Belgian dark chocolate flavor.
The service was attentive and focused. The owner, Fabienne Struell, visited with diners throughout the evening to ensure the delivery of an excellent dining experience. The prices are reasonable, given the quality of food and level of service.
The French Rotisserie Café has two locations:
Palm Desert: 4489 Town Center Way (across from Whole Foods)
La Quinta: 50855 Washington St. 2-H
Phone: 760 848-7684
Hours: Monday-Sunday 4:30-9