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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Tinto at the Saguaro Downsizes a Bit

Tinto, the Basque-style restaurant owned by Iron Chef Jose Garces that calls the Saguaro Palm Springs home, will reopen Wednesday, Dec. 3, after a lengthy closure during much of the summer and fall.

When Tinto reopens, it will be just a fraction of its former self, size-wise: The restaurant will occupy what had previously been the Tinto bar—and that’s it. The rest of the former Tinto space, including the lovely patio, has been converted into what’s called the Palmetto Room and the Santa Rosa patio. Those spaces will be available for special events like weddings and holiday parties.

The Saguaro hosted an event for VIPs and media at the old-new space on Wednesday, Nov. 19, and here’s the spin Tinto/Saguaro reps were putting on things: The Tinto downsizing will allow the restaurant to return to the small, intimate tapas-bar roots of the original Tinto in Philadelphia; meanwhile, the Palmetto Room and Santa Rosa Patio will help the Saguaro keep up with a demand for more special-events spaces.

Make what you will of that spin. All I know is that I hope the downsized Tinto can succeed; although I’ve experienced inconsistent service and food during previous visits to Tinto, I’ve also experienced some of the best bites I’ve had in the Coachella Valley.

Get more details at garcesgroup.com/restaurants/tinto.

PS Underground Takes Up a Semi-Permanent Residency With Light

Over the last two years or so, Michael Fietsam and David Horgen have wowed local foodies with PS Underground, a series of intimate, details-secret-until-the-day-of themed dinners held at a variety of valley locations.

While PS Underground lives on—in fact, the next event, called “Wanderland,” takes place on Wednesday, Dec. 10 (more details at www.psunderground.com)—Fietsam and Horgen have also set down roots, of sorts, for a new experience called Light.

Fietsam told me that like the usual PS Underground events, the details of Light’s dinners—including the menu and the dining location—remain secret to diners until the day of the event. However, unlike PS Underground events, the Light experience will be accessible throughout the season—until May 2, to be exact.

Why did the duo add Light to the PS Underground menu of offerings? Fietsam explained that he and Horgen wanted to share the PS Underground experience with a wider variety of people; it was a logical expansion of the hobby-turned-business.

“We haven’t been able to tap into the market of tourists and (out-of-town) friends of people who live in the desert” thanks to the inconsistency of the PS Underground schedule, he said.

While Light’s venue will remain the same through May 2, chef Horgen’s menu, or at least portions of it, changes on a weekly basis, Fietsam said.

Light takes place at 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday, through the season. The experience costs $150. Make reservations and get more details at www.lightps.net.

LuLu’s Rhine Joins Forces With Photog John Paschal for Eight4Nine

Willie Rhine has become a community icon as the general manager (and one of the public faces of) Barbara and Jerry Keller’s LuLu California Bistro, in downtown Palm Springs.

He’s so strongly associated with LuLu that his mid-November announcement that he was starting his own restaurant shocked many in the restaurant world.

Rhine is joining forces with John Paschal, of Snapshot Palm Springs Studios, to open a new-American cuisine restaurant called Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge, at 849 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. The new restaurant is slated to open sometime next summer.

After the initial announcement, Rhine took to Facebook to clarify his status with LuLu.

“I have the love and support of LuLu California Bistro owners, Barbara and Jerry Keller, who are excited about my new opportunity and equally thrilled and happy that I am staying on to continue the success of LuLu, where I remain both vested and the general manager, in charge of the day-to-day operations,” Rhine wrote. “I will continue to oversee our catering events with our amazing management team, including Lucy Kent and Francisco Plascencia.”

Congrats to Willie Rhine and John Paschal!

Follow the progress at www.facebook.com/eight4ninerestaurant.

In Brief

Figue Mediterranean Restaurant—the gorgeous La Quinta spot that was a solo effort by Lee Morcus, of the Kaiser Restaurant Group—is apparently no more. While no official announcement that we know of has been made, the closed restaurant’s Facebook page and website have not been updated in many months. ... The Villa Royale Inn and Europa Restaurant will hold a masquerade-themed dinner to benefit Angel View at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 11. Europa is located at 1620 S. Indian Trail, in Palm Springs; call 760-327-2314 for reservations or more info. … The former Crave, the dessert joint and bar on the second floor at 301 N. Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs, is now known as Plate | Glass. Larry Abel and Raymond McCallister are the owners; they formerly owned Crave with Davy Aker, who is not part of Plate | Glass. Find more details by calling 760-322-2322, or visit plate-glass.com.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

PS Underground Offers Surprises, Delights to Adventurous Foodies

So this is how it works: You go to the PS Underground webpage, and you request a reservation for a dinner event being held on a certain date. The event is called, say, “Spectrum: An Evening of Culinary Theater.”

You disclose any dietary restrictions, and say whether any members of your party are nondrinkers. If your reservation is confirmed, you pay, in the case of “Spectrum,” $89, plus tax, per person.

You don’t know the location (other than it is somewhere local) for “Spectrum.” You don’t know what’s being served. And you don’t even know what in the world “Spectrum” means.

Shortly before the event, you’ll get an email revealing the location, time and perhaps a hint about the theme, so you can dress up appropriately.

If such a culinary adventure sounds intriguing, then you should check out PS Underground.

PS Underground is the brainchild of Michael Fietsam and David Horgen. The local foodies, both of whom have backgrounds in the restaurant biz, say PS Underground got its start thanks to the dinner parties the couple would hold at their home. The more parties they had, the more popular they became.

“People (friends of friends) were coming to our house we didn’t even know,” Fietsam says. “We figured out that obviously, something was missing in the desert. There was a niche, and we thought: Why not turn our love and passion (for food) into a business?”

Thus, PS Underground was born. The first event was held last November. “A Taste of Autumn” was held in a 1960s-era artist bungalow, and appetizers were served outside, near a fire pit and sculptures. Dinner was served inside next to … a Jacuzzi?

“It was a blend of elegance and kitsch!” says the PS Underground website.

Four other events have followed, including “Last Dinner on the Titanic,” held in April on the 101st anniversary of the last meal aboard the doomed ship. Fietsam says that he and David try to appeal to all of the senses, and for the “Last Dinner,” not only did they re-create the menu of the Titanic’s final meal; they made the dining room look as much as possible like the room the first-class passengers on the Titanic would have found. They put up pictures from the voyage. They played newsreels about the ship’s maiden voyage. They worked with a local producer on a 15-minute video to play at the dinner. They even researched how the food was served to passengers.

“We wanted our diners transported into that experience,” Fietsam says.

Due to an increase in demand, “Spectrum”—PS Underground’s fifth event—was grown into four nights spread over two weekends. The first two nights happened on July 12 and 13, with the second two occurring on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 2 and 3.

Guests at the first two “Spectrum” nights were asked to keep quiet about the details until the second two nights have come and gone. So, I asked Fietsam: Can you offer any hints on what attendees can expect?

“The location we’ve chosen is quite unique. It’s not a place people would expect for a dinner party,” he says. In fact, he says that attendees are on “pins and needles” during the cocktail portion of the evening, wondering how, exactly, the night is going to work out.

If you’re interested in attending “Spectrum,” or any PS Underground event, early reservations are advised, because Michael and David cap the attendance at 30 to keep the dinner-party vibe intact.

To join the club, get information on future events, look at pictures and menus from previous events, or make reservations for one of the final two “Spectrum” nights, visit www.psunderground.com. You can also follow PS Underground on Facebook.

Level 2 Again Goes Gay

For years, it was an LGBT bar known as Sidewinders. Then it became an LGBT bar called Elevation. Then it was turned into Level 2, a … straight bar? (Gay folks were welcome, but the bar’s owners tried to orient the venue toward a more-general crowd. So, we’ll stick with the term “straight bar,” even though it’s kinda stupid and not wholly accurate.)

Well, whatever it was before, make no mistake: Level 2, at 67555 E. Palm Canyon Drive in Cathedral City, is again a gay bar. (But, of course, straight folks are welcome.)

New owners took control in June, and Level 2 celebrated its grand reopening (not that it ever closed, but still …) the first week of July. You’ll find a comfy atmosphere, a cool balcony (too bad it doesn’t overlook something more appealing than Highway 111 and the parking lot) and drag shows hosted by Marina Mac every Saturday at 9.

Want more info? Call 760-328-6834, or track down the bar on Facebook.

Figue Offers Cooking Classes, Recipes

If you like cooking food, and enjoy learning about food, you’ll want to take the following steps:

1. Point your browser toward eatfigue.com.

2. Click on “blog.”

3. Click on “Italian Cooking Class.”

4. Enjoy the information, history and full freakin’ recipes for watermelon and tomato salad; guazzetto of wild salmon, mussels and shrimp; and pistachio, polenta and olive oil cake.

Yum.

This is what I am hoping is the first in a series of notes and recipes from Figue chef François de Mélogue’s cooking classes to be posted on the website for Figure Mediterranean, 47474 Washington St. in La Quinta. These are from the class in June—and it turns out that TOMORROW, at noon, Saturday, July 20, Mélogue will be offering a French cooking class. The cost is $75, and the 2 1/2-hour event includes a three-course lunch.

“Like” Figue on Facebook for more information on future classes and other special events. And watch that Figue blog for more yummy recipes and information … we hope! Call 760-698-9040 for more info.

In Brief

Brushfire Grille and 911 Saloon, which was located at 1260 S. Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs, has closed. … Welcome to the dark days for Coachella Valley foodies: Summer closures at many beloved eateries are in full force. Be sure to call ahead or sniff around on Facebook before heading to your favorite restaurant.

Published in Restaurant & Food News