By Raymond Bill
When friends are visiting from out of town and I am looking to impress with great food and ambiance, La Quinta Cliffhouse is one of my favorite places to dine. It also happens to be a great hot spot to meet locals for happy hour! Recently, while celebrating a very special occasion, my girlfriend and I shared a romantic dinner for two, complete with breathtaking mountain views and one of the many gorgeous sunsets our desert has to offer. It was my first time dining there since the change of ownership and though I was worried that there would be too many changes, La Quinta Cliffhouse is better than ever.
We arrived at prime time and although the restaurant was full, we had reserved a booth in the dining room. The staff was immediately present and attentive, offering water and cocktails. We were presented with a digital beverage list to include wine, beer, and cocktails. This tablet menu was very easy to use and eliminates the inconveniences of small print and poor lighting. We made our wine selection before reviewing the dinner menu (though this menu was the old fashioned type).
The bar menu has had little revision, keeping about 80-90% of the original items. The dining room dinner menu, however, has kept some favorites and added many more. We began with Shrimp and Pork Stuffed Shiitake Mushrooms with ginger and garlic, finished with a soy butter sauce that was rich and savory. These were great to share and definitely had our mouths watering. We would also share Summer Corn Cakes with Duck Confit over micro greens, accompanied by a sweet and tangy blueberry gastrique. The appetizers were elegant, colorful, and well-portioned.
Between our appetizers and entrées, we shared the Roasted Beet Salad with pecans, goat cheese, and a light white balsamic vinaigrette. I am a big fan of beets and this was spot on! The chef was kind enough to split our salad on two plates and the presentation was photo worthy! Our server was sure to allow just enough time between courses for us to enjoy each other’s company and take in the view of this beautifully decorated restaurant.
For the main course, my date enjoyed the Braised Beef Short Rib with root vegetables and mashed potatoes. This was the star of the show! The beef was so tender that it would pull apart with just a gentle nudge. The vegetables were cooked perfectly and the beef remained hot from the first bite to the last! This is perhaps the best Short Rib entrée in the desert! As a seafood lover, I ordered the Sauteed Sea Scallops with a velvety smooth truffle vinaigrette, served with fresh green beans, caramelized onions, and small bites of mild chorizo. The scallops had a golden sear that gave the dish an appealing texture and flavor that left me wanting more! Our portions were perfect and priced accordingly.
This celebration was not complete without their amazing Hula Pie. Fortunately this is one item that has not left their menu. A heaping slice of macadamia nut ice cream with a cookie crust, topped with whipped cream and dripping fudge, sprinkled with macadamia nuts. Wow! This was a perfect ending to a magical evening at La Quinta Cliffhouse. But don’t take my word for it. Stop in for yourself and see why this is a Coachella Valley landmark. Open nightly from 4:30pm with an incredible happy hour in the bar, this is a restaurant you’ll want to visit again for the first time!