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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Now Open at Palm Springs’ Kaptur Plaza: V Wine Lounge

Before we get to all the sad news … let’s celebrate a little bit of good news with a glass of wine!

V Wine Lounge has finally opened its doors in Kaptur Plaza, at 600 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, in downtown Palm Springs.

Mikey Consbruck, the owner of V Wine Room in West Hollywood, and James Mortensen are the masterminds behind V Wine Lounge. On offer are 80 wines by the glass from California and the old world; a nice variety of craft beers; and even cheese plates, if you’re feeling a bit peckish.

Even though Independent World Headquarters is located just a short jaunt from V Wine Lounge, we haven’t yet had a chance to stop in for a drink or three. We’ll do so soon—so watch this space.

For more information, call 760-668-9665, or visit www.vwinelounge.com.


Three Much-Loved Local Restaurants Shut Their Doors

And now for the sad news: Three well-liked local restaurants in recent weeks have announced that they’re shutting down:

Justin Eat & Drink, which had become a favorite of foodies at 68784 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Cathedral City, announced via social media on Sept. 18 that it would not be reopening for the season. The soon-to-start construction on the Agua Caliente casino in Cathedral City was cited as the reason. “Keep your eyes open and stay tuned. You never know where you might see us next!” said the Facebook post.

Maria José Peruvian Restaurant, located in The Atrium at 69930 Highway 111, in Rancho Mirage, will also not reopen after a summer vacation. In an upbeat message posted on Facebook on Sept. 14, the owner said the time had come for her to “pursue other endeavors and devote more time to myself.” However, it’s no secret that the space Maria José occupied inside the sleepy Atrium mall was a tough sell—made even tougher since CVRep moved out of the mall earlier this year.

Frankinbun, which had delighted fans of all things sausage for five years at 540 S. Indian Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, announced on Facebook on Aug. 23: “So landlord decided not to renew our lease. ... The good news is we will be moving to the virtual world launching in 2020. All our vegan sausages and chutneys will be available. Stay tuned and thanks for all your support and love!” Watch www.frankinbun.com for updates.


In Brief

More sad news to report: The Coachella Valley restaurant world has lost two icons in recent weeks. Johnny Costagliola, the founder of legendary Palm Springs Italian restaurant Johnny Costa’s Ristorante, passed away on Sept. 4. He was 87 years old. His namesake restaurant remains open in the capable hands of his family. … Bill Tracy, the owner of the two Bill’s Pizza locations, passed away in early September. He fell off the roof of the Palm Desert restaurant in July, and then faced a series of complications. He was 69 years old. … Now open in Cathedral City: Bake’d Cakes and Pan Dulce, at 27800 Landau Blvd., No. 102. The bakery’s croissants, desserts and other goods are already earning raves on social media; call 760-656-0176, or visit www.facebook.com/Baked27800 to learn more. … Now open in Rancho Mirage: K-Tofu House, at 72817 Dinah Shore Drive, in the space that was briefly Sushi Arigato. If you’re not a fan of bean curd, don’t worry: K-Tofu House offers all sorts of Korean favorites with meat and veggies—bulgogi, bibimbap and a whole lot more. Call 760-656-8886 for more details. … Our friends at the Greater Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with the city of Indio, are again showing off the eats from great east valley restaurants at the Taste of Indio event. It’ll take place from 4 to 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 24, at Jackalope Ranch, 80400 Highway 111, in Indio. Tickets are $20 and include tastes from the dozen-plus participating restaurants. For tickets or more information, call 760-347-0676, or visit gcvcc.org/event/taste-of-indio-2. … Like meatballs? Then get thee to the seventh annual Sammy’s International Meatball Festival, taking place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 6, at the Boys and Girls Club of Cathedral City, located at 32141 Whispering Palms Trail, in Cathedral City. The event is a fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Club. The $15 ticket includes meatball tastings, entertainment and access to a beer and wine garden. Kids get in (albeit not to the beer and wine garden part) for $5. Props to Sam Pace of Sammy’s Place for hosting the event! For tickets or more info, call 760-770-4965, or visit bgcccity.org.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

New: Temecula's Snow and Crab Expands to Bring Shaved Ice and Cajun Seafood to Palm Springs

I was driving south down Sunrise Way past Tahquitz Canyon Way when I saw the words on the south end of the building that houses the 99 Cents Only store: SNOW and CRAB.

Hmm. I was intrigued. I love crab, after all, and as for snow … well, I wasn’t sure about that. So, I decided to investigate.

Here’s what I found: Snow and Crab is a new-to-Palm Springs restaurant—the first one is in Temecula—and the “crab” part of the name refers to, well, crab, as well as other Cajun-style seafood on offer: snow crab legs, king crab legs, whole blue and Dungeness crabs, clams, mussels, wild-caught shrimp, catfish, and both fresh and fresh-frozen crawfish. Basically … you choose your catch; your flavor (Cajun, scampi, lemon pepper or full house); your spiciness level; and your extras, if desired (hot Louisiana smoked sausage, potatoes, sausage or corn on the cob). Soups, salads, sides, appetizers and several “chef’s specialties,” as well as desserts, fill out the menu. Yum.

As for “snow” … that refers to the shaved ice concoctions available, like the “Let It Snow”: milky shaved ice topped with marshmallow and shredded coconut. Boba smoothies, flavored teas and other specialty drinks may also be ordered.

I decided Snow and Crab warranted some in-person investigation, so I dropped in for a recent lunch. I am dealing with an injured-but-healing left arm, so I decided to save the more hands-on seafood for another time, and instead ordered a “chef’s specialty,” the fried catfish tray with fries ($12), along with the garlic-bread appetizer ($3). Both were tasty—and the amount of catfish and fresh-cut large fries was substantial enough that I could have made two meals out of it. (I said “could have.” Hey, I was hungry.)

The person who helped me during my mid-April visit said Snow and Crab is still in its soft-opening phase, so menu tweaks and additions are possible.

Snow and Crab looks like an exciting, unique addition to the area food scene. It’s located at 186 S. Sunrise Way, in Palm Springs. For more information, call 760-218-6056, or visit www.snowandcrab.com.


In Brief

A new restaurant has opened at the Palm Springs Art Museum. Persimmon Bistro comes from Candice Held and Tristan Gittens, the owners of Palm Springs’ Frankinbun; according to a news release, Persimmon serves “rustic, eclectic cuisine with a twist in a unique café setting on the edge of the museum’s sculpture garden … combining fantastical wallpaper design and chic comfort food.” The “jungle to table” restaurant serves coffee, tea, cold-pressed juices, smoothies, salads, soups and sandwiches, as well as a few “delicacies” like charcuterie and French desserts. Persimmon Bistro is open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day but Wednesday at 101 N. Museum Drive, in Palm Springs; visit www.persimmonbistro.com for details. … A couple of Facebook friends have been singing the praises of a brand-new place—and by “brand new,” we mean “opened on April 14”—at 3700 E. Vista Chino, at Gene Autry Trail, in Palm Springs. It’s called Paul, and the place serves food and great drinks, often served by someone named Paul, starting at 4 p.m. every day but Tuesday. That’s all we know for now; watch www.facebook.com/PaulPalmSprings for more details. … If you like either Lucha Libre wrestling or tacos—and if you don’t like at least one of those two things, something’s very wrong with you—head to Morongo Casino Resort Spa, at 49500 Seminole Drive, in Cabazon, on Saturday, May 19, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the second annual Morongo Taco Fest. More than two-dozen SoCal taco-makers will be present selling $2 tacos, while music, tequila-tastings, a hot-pepper-eating contest and a “Tiny Taco Dog Beauty Pageant” (!) takes place. Admission is $10; get more details and tickets at www.morongocasinoresort.com. … A brand-new—and gorgeous—Koffi has opened in Kaptur Plaza, located at 650 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, in downtown Palm Springs. This is the fourth Koffi location—three of which are in Palm Springs, with the fourth in Rancho Mirage. More info at www.kofficoffee.com. … Now open at The River, at 71800 Highway 111, Suite A116, in Rancho Mirage: MidiCi, The Neapolitan Pizza Company, a national chain restaurant serving food made with “mostly non-GMO” ingredients, along with beer and wine. More info at www.mymidici.com. … Coming soon to downtown Palm Springs: a new La Quinta Brewing Co. Taproom, at 301 N. Palm Canyon Drive, across from the Hyatt and beneath Café Europa/JusTapas. Watch www.facebook.com/LQBCPalmSpringsTaproom for updates.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

What: The Chicken and Waffle on a Stick

Where: Frankinbun, 540 S. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

How much: $9.95

Contact: 760-318-4841; www.frankinbun.com

Why: It’s a tasty and unique take on a classic.

Sausage. Is it possible for a non-vegetarian to not like at least some forms of ground, seasoned meat? I dare say: It is not. Or at least, in a logical world, it shouldn’t be possible.

These musings bring us to our recent visit to Frankinbun, a new Palm Springs restaurant that focuses on sausage—specifically, sausage in tubular form, presented in a wide variety of ways.

Frankinbun has hot dogs, of course—delicious dogs offered in ways both expected (a chili-cheese dog; a newly added Chicago dog that looks amazing) and unusual ’round these parts (the “currywurst,” a cut-up kielbasa smothered in curry sauce, with a chutney offered on the side). The restaurant also offers a variety of weenies such as hot Italian sausage, bratwurst, linguica, tri-pepper pork and even a vegan option, made with mushrooms and black-eyed peas. Yum.

However, the one sausage that really caught our attention at this little eatery with the cool patio and the impressive selection of bottled drinks was, paradoxically, the most familiar and the most creative: The chicken and waffle on a stick.

The chicken here is actually a Bavarian apple-cinnamon chicken sausage, wrapped in Belgian-waffle coating; the two dogs are baked, not fried, and then served with real maple syrup.

Yum.

I did have one minor issue with my lunch: It was not exactly filling. The hubby enjoyed the aforementioned currywurst ($7.95), and we split a tornado potato (a spiral-cut potato fried and then topped with a choice of seasoning, $2.95)—and after spending more than $25 (with tax and tip included), we both left wanting more. Yeah, we can be big eaters at times, but I have a feeling others will leave Frankinbun feeling similarly un-full.

That bit of gluttony aside, I’ll be returning to Frankinbun quite soon. Because, y’know … sausage. Mmmm.

Published in The Indy Endorsement

Dead or Alive Brings Fine Wine, Fine Beer and Fine Design to ‘The Curve’ Area

Christine Soto and Anthony Cioffi attended to Palm Springs High School together. After graduation, they went their separate ways, but in 2012, at their 10-year reunion, they reconnected—and started dating.

Today, they’re not only life partners; they’re business partners as well.

Cioffi works as a designer, and several years ago, he worked with Donovan Funkey to create the look of Bar, in downtown Palm Springs.

“That sort of sparked the idea for doing this,” Cioffi said.

The “this” of which Cioffi speaks is Dead or Alive, a charming-as-hell craft-beer and specialty-wine bar that opened in December at 150 E. Palm Canyon Drive, right next to El Mirasol in the midst of “the curve”—where South Palm Canyon Drive becomes East Palm Canyon Drive.

During a recent media tasting, Cioffi and Soto explained how they took more than a year to develop the idea and design for Dead or Alive. Design plays a big part in the bar’s vibe: A large, round, orange fixture at the end of the bar and a matching orb out front slowly change color and fade as the hours pass each evening and night, simulating a sunset. It’s impressive.

“Christine and I are very passionate about beer and wine, and wanted to create a place where people could come, get together, and discover new, great things,” Cioffi said. “The focus is on the product.”

As for that product: Dead or Live features an ever-changing assortment of craft beers—such as Left Hand Brewing’s Milk Stout ($9 for 13 ounces) and Coachella Valley Brewing’s sessionable Goze ($6.50 for 13 ounces)—and specially selected wines, such as Broc Cellars’ Love Red ($12 per glass) and Domaine Brazilier’s Methode Trad Brut ($9).

There’s nothing quite like this special little beer-and-wine bar anywhere else in the Coachella Valley. Check it out from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. every day, including holidays.

Visit deadoralivebar.com for more information.


New: Creamistry Opens in Palm Desert

“We specialize in fresh, made-to-order ice cream using liquid nitrogen. Our rapid freezing process provides the smoothest and creamiest frozen delights.”

So say the folks at Creamistry, a growing Southern California chain currently boasting a dozen or so locations—and one of the newest locations is right here in the Coachella Valley, at 73131 Country Club Drive, No. C1, in Palm Desert. It’s in the same area as Sherman’s and Bristol Farms.

Creamistry’s various locations have been receiving praise on the various online review sites, and some of the pictures being posted on the Palm Desert Creamistry Facebook bring to mind the word yummy. Check out that Facebook page at www.facebook.com/creamistrypalmdesert.


In Brief

The affiliation between Iron Chef Jose Garces and The Saguaro, located at 1800 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, is coming to an end: As of the end of February, his menus will no longer be served at the hotel. Who knows what will come next at Tinto and El Jefe? Stay tuned. … Wanna gorge yourself while watching the Super Bowl? Consider heading to Tacos and Tequila at the Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, in Cabazon. For $35 per person (plus tax and service charges), from 3 p.m. until the beginning of the fourth quarter on Sunday, Feb. 7, enjoy crispy chicken tacos, pulled-pork sliders, nachos, chops and salsa, and hot dogs with several topping choices. Also included: two beers or well drinks! Visit www.morongocasinoresort.com for more details. … KESQ News Channel 3’s Bianca Rae, the Best Local TV News Personality according to Independent readers, will be the host of the L’Affaire Chocolat: High Tea at the Classic Club, 75200 Classic Club Blvd., in Palm Desert, from 2 to 4 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 21. Proceeds go toward the Dames D’Escoffier Scholarships for local women in the culinary and hospitality industries. Sparkling wine, tea sandwiches, mini quiches and more are on the menu—and to top it off, there’s a 25-foot chocolate dessert buffet featuring goodies from some of the town’s finest restaurants and bakeries. The cost is $75; call 760-895-9899 for reservations. … Newish to Palm Springs: Frankinbun, located at 540 S. Indian Canyon Drive. It’s a “gourmet sausage grill” that we happened to see as we zoomed by one day. We’ll be investigating this further, because … well, gourmet sausages. Mmmm. More info at www.frankinbun.com.

Published in Restaurant & Food News