CVIndependent

Mon07132020

Last updateMon, 20 Apr 2020 1pm

Three Pieces of Unsolicited Advice for Restaurateurs

There’s surprisingly little restaurant news to report at this point during the busy season ... because, well, most everyone is so gosh-darned busy.

Therefore, I’m going to take advantage of this relative news lull to offer up a few pieces of advice to the valley’s restaurateurs. While I’m certainly not a trained chef or a restaurant-management expert, I have been writing about food and restaurants for more than two decades now. And I’ve noticed some things.

Enough with the preamble:

• Be sure to make a good first impression. I’m stunned at how many restaurants put someone at the host/hostess stand who is ... well, less than pleasant. On a recent lunch visit to one of Palm Springs’ most-popular restaurants, we were seated by a young woman who seemed, well, downright morose—to the point that my husband and I, when she was out of hearing range, instantly asked each other if we had noticed her demeanor. We had ... and while I can’t remember off the top of my head what I had for lunch that day, I sure remember that unenthusiastic hostess.

• Be sensitive to people dealing with disabilities or injuries. One example on how NOT to do things: The hubby and I tried to dine at another popular Palm Springs restaurant (that does not take reservations) on one recent, busy weekend night. I walked up and requested a table for two, and explained that because my husband—who was sitting in a chair in full view of the host/hostess area—had just undergone knee surgery to repair a broken kneecap, he couldn’t bend his right leg; therefore, we needed a table rather than a booth.

The woman seating people simply responded, “A table will take longer.” I said OK and was given a pager. We waited for about 20 minutes and saw all sorts of people seated immediately, albeit in booths. As my husband’s discomfort grew, I went up and asked how much longer the table would be.

“A table will take longer,” the woman repeated. I asked if that meant 10 more minutes, or a half hour, or what—and she said she couldn’t tell me, but that it could be a while.

At that point, I shook my head, handed her the pager and left. If we’d have been told that we could be facing a half-hour wait, minimum, when we’d arrived, we would have understood, thanked her and left. It was a hugely busy night, after all. However, to be told, simply, “A table takes longer,” without clarification .... that’s not good, especially when a regular customer is sitting, clearly suffering, in plain view.

• Make sure your online presence is up to date. I’m a food nerd who likes to research menus before trying new places, and it’s a true bummer whenever I spot an item online I’d like to try—only to be told when ordering that the item I was craving is no longer available after a menu change. It’s not hard, or it shouldn’t be, to keep customers or potential customers informed by making sure websites and social media accounts are accurate.

Thanks for reading … and thanks to all the hard-working restaurant employees and owners who kick ass during these busy months.


In Brief

The biggest food festival of the year is here! Palm Desert Food and Wine will feature events from Wednesday, March 25, through Sunday, March 29. The biggest shindigs are the grand tastings, taking place from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, March 28 and 29, at The Gardens on El Paseo, at 73545 El Paseo. Tickets cost $100; you can get in earlier if you want to pay more. For tickets and complete schedule of events, visit www.palmdesertfoodandwine.com. … The four bars and restaurants at the Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs, at 100 W. Tahquitz Canyon Way, have a new boss: Dan Grunbeck was recently appointed the executive chef. He headed south from the Lodge and Spa at Brush Creek Ranch in Wyoming. “Marrying his French-Italian cooking style with his love of fresh, locally sourced ingredients, Grunbeck aims to elevate desert dining through memorable culinary moments infused with a strong sense of place,” says the press release announcing Grunbeck’s arrival. Welcome, Dan! … Lots of changes have happened recently at the Morongo Casino Resort and Spa, at 49500 Seminole Drive, in Cabazon. As part of a year-long remodel, Morongo opened three new restaurants: Mozen Asian Kitchen, offering an array of traditional delicacies from China, Vietnam, Korea and Japan; Pink Coffee, featuring coffee and house-made treats including gelato and baked goods; and the Good Times Café, a 24-hour gastropub with two-dozen beers on tap. Learn more at www.morongocasinoresort.com. … There’s going to be a new speakeasy inside Bouschet, at 611 S. Palm Canyon Drive, No. 22, in Palm Springs. It’s called PS Air, and it's opening sometime in March. Watch www.bouschet.com for updates.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

Greater Palm Springs Restaurant Week Returns May 31, With More Than 115 Participants

The bad news: Summer is almost here, meaning 100-degree temperatures will soon be a daily thing.

The good news: This also means Greater Palm Springs Restaurant Week is almost here.

The annual event will return for 10 days—that’s seven days shorter than Restaurant “Week” was last year, alas—of great deals at restaurants valley-wide, starting on May 31. Here’s how it works: Participants offer special prix-fixe menus for lunch and/or dinner. Lunches, with at least two courses, cost $15, $20 or $25, while dinner, with at least three courses, costs $29, $39 or $49.

As of now, 117 participating restaurants are listed on the Greater Palm Springs Restaurant Week website—a record, I believe. And this year, there’s a very cool charitable hook: A lot of the participating restaurants are offering reservations to be made through the Restaurant Week website, and $1 from each reservation made via the website will be donated to the FIND Food Bank, thanks in part to the generosity of the week’s sponsors, Agua Caliente Casinos and Sysco Riverside.

I could go on and on, but I won’t. I’ll leave you with just a little advice: Go to the Restaurant Week website; do your research by perusing the participants’ menus; and plan your visits. A lot of the restaurants offer truly amazing deals; others … not so much. Remember: This year, you’ll only have 10 days rather than 17 to enjoy Restaurant Week!

Greater Palm Springs Restaurant Week takes place Friday, May 31, through Sunday, June 9. For more information, including menus, visit www.visitgreaterpalmsprings.com/dinegps/restaurant-week.


Opening This Week: Tac/Quila, From the Owners of Farm Palm Springs

Liz and Mark Ostoich are lawyers by trade—but they’ve proven themselves to be amazingly good restaurateurs with Farm, located in downtown Palm Springs’ La Plaza. Therefore, it’s very good news that they now have a second restaurant: Tac/Quila, located at 415 N. Palm Canyon Drive, which most recently housed Watercress Vietnamese Bistro.

“Farm allowed us to bring our love of the French countryside to a charming little courtyard, chock full of flowers and tucked away from the hustle and bustle,” reads a message from Liz and Mark Ostoich on the Tac/Quila website. “We love everything that has become Farm, but there was more to be said. So part of our life story involves food—but it also includes travel, history and, of course, tequila! Tac/Quila is our made-up word for combining gourmet Jalisco style cuisine with specialty tequilas and mezcals, in an effort to transport our guests south of the border and into a culture rich in flavor, color, art and authenticity.”

The pictures posted on the Tac/Quila Facebook page and website show a gorgeously renovated space—and the menu posted on the website made my mouth water. Three different kinds of ceviche? Yes, please.

Tac/Quila is slated to open Wednesday, April 24. For more information, including the menu, visit www.tacquila.com.


In Brief

Taco fans, take note: Plan on being at the Morongo Casino Resort and Spa on Saturday, May 18, from 11 to 6 p.m., for the annual Morongo Taco Fest. Admission is $10, and 30 or so vendors will be selling $2 tacos. Lucha libre wrestling and live music will entertain, while tequila and margaritas will provide the buzz. Get information and tickets at morongocasinoresort.com. … New to Palm Springs: Glitch, a Southeast Asian restaurant and ’80s-style arcade. Wait, what? Let me check my notes … yep, that’s right. Wow. Enjoy items like num pang—that’s a Cambodian-style pork sandwich—while playing classic arcade games and table games. If you’re looking for something completely different, you’ll find it at 2080 N. Palm Canyon Drive; get more information at www.glitchpalmsprings.com. … New to Cathedral City: Romano’s, offering pizza, subs, salads and other goodies at 27800 Landau Blvd., at Vista Chino. Find more information and photos of the menu at www.facebook.com/Romanos-Pizza-373313373264165. … New to Rancho Mirage: Maria Jose Peruvian Gourmet, inside The Atrium at 69930 Highway 111. Check out the menu (including photos that made me very hungry) at www.mariajoseperuviangourmet.com. … Sad news: Desert Wines and Spirits, which had been located inside Go Deli at 611 S. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, is no more. Happy news: In the whole space starting sometime in May will be Bouschet, a “wine and gourmet food experience.” Watch www.bouschet.com for updates. … New to Palm Desert, from the folks at longtime sushi restaurant Musashi: Ramen Musashi. Find it at 44491 Town Center Way, and get more information at ramenpalmdesert.com. … New to La Quinta: Palm Tree Palace. We couldn’t find an online presence for this new Chinese restaurant, so we recommend stopping by 79660 Highway 111 to get the details.

Published in Restaurant & Food News