By Crystal Harrell
Hacienda-style corridors and the soft twinkling of a lounge-style piano lead you to the fine dining experience awaiting you at Morgan’s in the Desert inside the La Quinta Resort & Club. Receiving the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence in 2016, the restaurant is a Coachella Valley connoisseur’s dream destination with locally selected ingredients promoting the bounty of the desert.
As my party entered the restaurant, the evening dining room was dimly lit with a romantic, warm atmosphere accentuated by rustic wood paneling and a roaring fireplace. Excellent renditions of classic songs were crooned by the pianist situated near the bar, and the entire establishment emanated a sense of elegance and mystique.
Our server, Marilynn, was inviting and very helpful in recommending the most popular dishes at Morgan’s, this instance being the special seasonal menu available in April featuring asparagus. With three illustrious courses, the Peak Harvest Festival menu showcased a variety of ways this vegetable could be dressed to impress and flavored to savor, prepared by the Chef de Cuisine himself, Camiel Henning.
The starter featured the star item of the menu, wild asparagus, topped with seared chanterelles, reggiano parmigiano and chervil, infused with a zesty twist courtesy of lemon verbena tea and meyer lemon emulsion. The presentation of this dish was very summery and bold with the droplets of bright lemon contrasting against the earthy tones of the asparagus and other seasonal greens. The complimenting flavors of the dish not only created a light, refreshing appetizer, but highlighted the natural taste of asparagus in a way that surprised me—due to the fact that asparagus has never been a regular staple of my diet, but with the way Morgan’s has deliciously incorporated it into this menu, I am tempted to change that.
For the main course, a citrus infused poached lobster tail was presented resting on a bed of vanilla carmelized purple passion asparagus, and garnished with asparagus thread, micro merlot salad, and ginger crisp. While the asparagus acts as a secondhand counterpart to the seafood taking center stage, its presence is not forgotten while tasting this dish. The lobster was every bit as succulent and moist as I had hoped for, with the trappings of zesty garnish and buttery texture completing the experience. The asparagus paired beautifully with its leading entree, adding a bit of contrast with the flavors of sea and earth intermingling to form a well-rounded dish.
To conclude this five-star meal, the dessert featured on the Peak Harvest Festival menu was Gaviota strawberries soaked with basil and mint juice, swimming in a pool of crispy tuille with pistachio, strawberry cream, and bourbon vanilla ice cream. While my tastebuds encountered moments of spice, savor, and sour, this dainty dish was a welcomed addition of sweetness. Just in time for the sometimes unbearable seasonal temperatures, this dessert was cool and crisp with its juicy strawberries embraced by fluffy cream embellishments. Pistachio nuts sprinkled throughout the cloud-like whip, was an interesting way of creating a hardened texture to the dish, without completely taking away from the charming taste of springtime simplicity.
Morgan’s in the Desert is the ideal representation of the fine dining selections that Greater Palm Springs has to offer—creating intricately crafted dishes and seasonal menus highlighting the most appetizing of ingredients. From the exquisitely refined atmosphere that satiates your thirst for rich wines and spirits to the actual dishes that immerse you in the tastes of desert regality, Morgan’s in the Desert has cemented its status as the perfect venue for date nights or shameless self-indulgence.
Morgan’s in the Desert is located in the La Quinta Resort at 49499 Eisenhower Dr. La Quinta, 92253. Call 760-564-5700. Hours are 5-10pm Monday through Sunday.