From all of the reviews that I read on yelp they all say the same thing, don’t let this place fool you, what it lacks in ambiance will fully make up for it in taste. I have to say that some of this is true, but for me I write about the whole experience and when I left I felt very disappointed.
I met Chef Daniel at the Palm Springs Food and Wine event back in April and we talked about my coming in and doing a review, as well as speaking to him a couple of times earlier this past week, so he knew I was coming and what to expect. As part of my tasting I like to try lots of menu items so I can give a full review.
When I arrived, he was nowhere to be found. Instead, his wait staff consisted of only one girl who had to bartend, bus tables and serve all at the same time. There were only a few tables of folks eating at this very small place so in her defense she was really busy because of being short. But she also did some things that were very strange. I usually like to do some wine pairing with my meal so I ordered a few white wines to compliment my 2 appetizers and she gave me very small tastes, in a cordial glass and the other in a sherry glass. I don’t know if you have heard but it is very hard, no make that impossible to aerate wine in small glass with no room to swirl. How do you say odd, very odd.
I chose items off of the menu and told our waitress that they can mix and match any of them as well as making them smaller portions. She said she would speak to Chef Daniel by phone and he would decide what we should taste. She brought out only 4 items total, appetizers and entrees. All of which were truly delicious, but very difficult for me to do a thorough review when I can’t compare tastes with other menu items.
The other weird thing was that every time the waitress came to any table she unfolded a full stand up tray by the table, even to deliver a to go box, which I found very irritating. This kind of fold up tray is used in big banquet halls when you have 5 or more entrees to deliver, and is not put right in front of the dining guest, unless you are making a dish table side. Even then it is always placed away from the guest. She set up this tray to deliver 1 small dessert plate, so distracting.
The whole experience left me feeling very uncomfortable and unwanted. Oh and did I mention that Chef Daniel did finally show up and said hello to me. He described the ingredients in the seafood dish and then went to drink with his friends at the bar. He never came back to talk to me about the restaurant, recipes, etc. It was like I was invisible.
It wasn’t until I was leaving that he said to me oh your leaving and by that time I was just done. I was extremely frustrated and wanted to get out of there, perhaps the most uncomfortable dining experience I have ever had. Maybe on a busy night it is not bad, but my experience was something out of a David Lynch movie. You would think if you made arrangements to come and do a review that the chef and wait staff would treat you better, but really I just don’t think they really cared. Maybe because either their food reviews are good and or people are not paying attention to the whole dining experience, but I would only go if you want to try the food, the rest of the experience was not good.
The location is very cool, you can watch the planes from Palm Springs airport land, but on the night I was there I really missed that show because it was too windy and cold to be out on their patio which has no heat lamps that I could see.
I can’t understand why I would be asked to do this and then not be able to taste anything other then 4 items from their menu. This frustrates me; I just can’t ever do a restaurant justice by reviewing such a limited selection, but here goes.
Here is what my very limited tasting was:
Cucumbers Salad, with Heirloom cherry tomatoes, romaine, Greek olives, sweet peppers, herbs, feta cheese and mint olive vinaigrette. This is a decent salad, but one that I would not recommend; it is just too basic and typical.
Shrimp Escabeche Sauté with Roasted garlic, shallot, Spanish olives, sherry vinegar and citrus. I loved this dish; it is rich with great exotic flavors and has a nice sweet essence.
‘Zarzuela’, a musical opera of fresh seafood & broth, fish, mussels, lobster claw, white shrimp, Spanish beans, fennel, carrots, tomato, celery, leeks, roasted garlic and herbs. In this dish I especially liked the way the fish was cooked, it almost had a crust and the broth is very flavorful.
Moroccan Chicken ‘Pastilla’, Braised chicken with fresh ginger, saffron, turmeric, cinnamon, yellow onions, sweet peppers, herbs, organic egg, gold raisins and almonds. Baked with phyllo crust. This is a nice rendition of this dish, maybe a bit too sweet, but enjoyable all the same.
Fig Cake, I read that you just have to try this desert. It is like carrot cake, same idea, and good but did not live up to its great acclaim.
I tried some great wines, but some of them were served in weird containers which pretty much did not allow me to really taste them, so I am not going to be able to review them, sorry.
I know that they have won lots of awards this year, and I too would have given them an award if I would have been treated better. They also have had some good reviews and write-ups; obviously those reviewers had a better experience then me. So to sum this review up, I liked the food, but the whole experience made me feel uncomfortable and really wanting to exit the restaurant as soon as possible. Sorry Chef Daniel, you might have wanted to talk more to me about your establishment then to hang out and drink with your other more important guests at the bar.
As a disclaimer I really don’t like to write a negative review, so take what you will away from this, but know that the food is still worth a trip if you ignore the atmosphere, and the oddball service.
145 N Gene Autry Trail and District Center Dr.
Palm Springs, CA,