By Raymond Bill
Every year around this time, some of my favorite restaurants close their doors while others are capturing the ever growing local market. Summer pre fixe menus and Happy Hour specials are luring in crowds, filling some restaurants to capacity. In fact, places like Mama Gina’s and Cliff House are known for their great Happy Hour deals that fill every seat in their bar nightly. My new favorite hot spot for quality food and drinks that won’t empty your wallet is La Brasserie in La Quinta.
When it comes to French cuisine, La Brasserie offers the best variety and authenticity. Award winning Chef Emmanuel Janin is a master of his craft, delighting guests in the Coachella Valley since 2008. I’ve enjoyed many meals in the dining room but on my most recent visit, I discovered one of the best Happy Hour menus in the desert. With deals between $5 and $10, I tried three items, paired with wines selected by their very charming bartender, Christina.
My first course was a dish that most people will either love or hate. The Escargot Bourgogne is not on the Happy Hour menu but the half order was a perfect portion and price point. These tender bites were served hot with a rich, garlic herb butter, complimented by the flakey sliced baguette provided and paired with a crisp Domaine Pierre Riffault Sancerre.
My next course was also unique. Crispy tempura Frog legs with a creamy tartar sauce. We’ve all heard it before, “they taste like chicken,” but the truth is, these are much better than chicken! Tender and juicy inside, crispy and flakey outside, these were delicious and unlike anything you will find in the valley. Fortunately there are hand towelettes provided, as this is not the cleanest dish to enjoy.
Finally, I finished my meal with tender medallions of lamb served over a green chick pea salad with heirloom tomatoes, baby spinach and goat cheese. The lamb loin was seasoned perfectly and prepared to a medium. Christina paired this course with a Meiomi Pinot Noir that allowed the lamb to be the star of the show, yet stood on its own with bold flavors of cherry and plum.
La Brasserie offers Happy Hour nightly through the summer so stop by and try some of their signature dishes. The Prince Edward Island Mussels are definitely a top seller and great to share with friends. There is something for everyone on this menu. If Frog Legs are not your thing, try the Duo of Kobe Beef Sliders or perhaps the Crispy Orange Glaze Chicken Wings. Space is limited so arrive early.
La Brasserie is located at the corner of Washington and Highway 111. Though closed Sundays, they open for lunch at 11am Monday through Saturday and serve to 2pm. Dinner is served from 5pm to 9pm Monday through Thursday and from 4:30pm to 9:30pm Friday and Saturday. And of course, Happy Hour is all night long, all summer long.