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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Owner of 533 Viet Fusion to Open Roly China Fusion in Former Alebrije Space

One of downtown Palm Springs’ best restaurants is no more—but a veteran restaurateur is going to take over that restaurant’s space and hopefully fill a culinary need.

Here’s how it all went down: Alebrije Bistro Mexico, at 1107 N. Palm Canyon Drive, closed in early July. The Mexico City-style upscale restaurant announced on Facebook: “Dear amigos, Alebrije will be closed for the rest of the summer. See you again in September!”

Within a couple of weeks, however, it became apparent that Alebrije would not be seeing us again in September—because Chad Gardner, the owner of both 533 Viet Fusion and Dash and a Handful Catering, announced on Facebook that he’d be opening Roly China Fusion in the space that had been Alebrije’s home.

A July 28 announcement on Facebook said Roly will be “serving authentic Cantonese and Sichuan Chinese Cuisine with (Gardner’s) own modern twists. Roly China Fusion will offer an exceptional social and traditional dining experiences in our indoor-outdoor lounge and restaurant.”

What does all of this mean? First: The closure of Alebrije is truly a loss. For my money, it served some of the most sophisticated food and drink in the Coachella Valley. The roasted suckling pig was on my unofficial Top 10 list of the valley’s best entrées. It will be missed.

Second: The opening of Roly, which could come as soon as October, will be most welcome. Gardner has been looking for his next restaurant project for a while now; he announced back in 2016 that he’d be opening a Mediterranean restaurant in the much-and-still-delayed Andaz Palm Springs hotel, but those plans fell through. Given his success with 533 Viet Fusion, I am excited to see what he’ll do with Chinese cuisine—and it’s a well-known fact that the western Coachella Valley badly needs some good Chinese fare.

Watch www.rolychinafusion.com and Roly’s Facebook page for updates and more information.


Ace Hotel Launches a Monthly Wine-Tasting Series

The Ace Hotel and Swim Club is holding a monthly poolside wine-tasting series in the months leading up to the second annual Palm Springs Wine Festival.

The Golden Grapes tastings each cost $20, will occur on a weekend day between noon and 5 p.m., and will feature a “curated selection of wineries represent(ing) just a few of the new California vintners who are transforming the landscape of wine in the Golden State and beyond,” according to a press release.

On Sunday, Sept. 29, Nomadica wines will be available; on Sunday, Oct. 13, the featured winemaker will be Amy Atwood Selections. On Saturday, Nov. 9, it’ll be Scribe Wine (Nouveau).

As for the second annual Palm Springs Wine Festival … mark your calendars for Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 7 and 8.

The Ace Hotel and Swim club is located at 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. For more information, visit www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.


In Brief

New to 72301 Country Club Drive, Suite 110, in Rancho Mirage: The Sandbox Kitchen, a deli/taco joint that opened in early August. For now, the place is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day but Sunday (and Saturday, when it’s open until 9). We’re already hearing raves about the street tacos and the impressive number of vegan/vegetarian options. Call 760-565-6044, or visit facebook.com/TheSandboxKitchen for more information. … New to 360 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs: InKa Peruvian Cuisine. The restaurant wins our Weirdest Facebook “About” Description Award with this: “The InKa came to Palm Springs, brought with him his best dishes with which he will conquer the entire city.” OK then! The expansive menu features a lot of yummy-sounding dishes with meat and seafood, as well as some intriguing vegetarian options. InKa opens at 11 a.m. Monday and Tuesday, and 9 a.m. the other five days of the week; it’s open daily until at least 10 p.m. For more information, call 760-992-5311, or visit www.facebook.com/inkaperuviancuisine. … Acqua California Bistro, at The River (71800 Highway 111) in Rancho Mirage, is now offering a “Buffet Bar” every Sunday through Friday from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.: $7.99 will get you a selection of pizzas, pastas, salads, sliced meats and other goodies—and the house chardonnay and cabernet wines are just $4.99. Call 760-862-9800, or visit acquaranchomirage.com for more information. … Coming soon to 100 W. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Suite 130, in downtown Palm Springs: Stout Burgers and Beers. It’ll be the sixth Stout location, joining three other Southern California locations, plus restaurants in Brentwood, Tenn., and Louisville, Ky.; visit www.stoutburgersandbeers.com for more information. … Coming soon to 73040 El Paseo, in Palm Desert: Eddie V’s Prime Seafood. It’s a sister restaurant to The Capital Grille chain; visit www.eddiev.com for the scoop.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

Writer/director Petra Haffter first visited Palm Springs in 1981, on a publicity tour for one of her films. She moved to Los Angeles from her native Germany not long after, and she often enjoyed getaways to the desert—even though the area, she says, had lost most of its former Hollywood sheen.

But that turned around—Haffter credits the arrival of gay couples with dual incomes and “great taste”—and a few years ago, she bought a house and moved to the Coachella Valley full-time. She’d planned to move here after retirement—she and her partner continue to commute to Los Angeles for work—but she decided to make the leap in part because of the area’s enthusiasm for high-culture elements like film and architecture, and its commitment to abundant and diverse cuisine.

“First of all, I’m a filmmaker. Second, I’m a foodie,” Haffter said in an interview.

When she moved to the desert full-time, she knew she wanted “to do something for the community, giving back with the experience I have—and the experience I have is filmmaking.”

She set out to develop an event “that includes dinner and a movie, but not as it usually is—connected to a festival or short event.” She found a partner in the Palm Springs Cultural Center, which produces the Certified Farmers’ Markets that operate at three locations across the valley, and happens to occupy the classic Camelot Theatre building, with its three screens and full restaurant and bar.

Thus, Culinary Cinema was born. The monthly series, each pairing dinner by a local chef with a food-related film on the third Wednesday of the month, launches Aug. 21 with the 2014 movie The Hundred-Foot Journey, directed by Lasse Hallström and produced by Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg. Helen Mirren stars as proprietor of a Michelin-starred restaurant in a small French village who goes to battle when an Indian family opens a competing establishment across the street.

“It’s one of my favorites of all time,” Haffter said. “It deals with two of the major cuisines of the world, French cuisine and Indian. So I thought it would be a very good entrée, to show that we are embracing diversity, and that we are accepting everyone at our table.”

Following each screening, guests will enjoy a dinner inspired by the accompanying film. The venue for the post-screening dinner will vary; for the inaugural event, the dinner will take place on the Camelot Theatre stage, prepared by Chef Daniel Villanueva of Daniel’s Table.

“I thought for the very first one, it would be great when the film is over, as the curtain is closing, that we have this long table there, and we just can come have a glass of champagne and then walk to the table like we’re a family,” she said.

Family is a recurring theme in the films that have been announced thus far. September’s selection will be the German film Mostly Martha, about a bullheaded chef whose orderly life begins to unravel when her young niece is suddenly placed in her care. Chef Teresa Attardi is known for her authentic family-style Italian food, which guests will enjoy after the screening at her Palm Springs restaurant, Il Giardino.

In October, private chef and recently repatriated Coachella Valley native Amanda Escamilla will bring her farm-to-table approach to Mexican cuisine to accompany the 2001 comedy-drama Tortilla Soup, about three sisters and their aging father, a veteran chef slowly losing his sense of taste.

In November, the Vietnamese film The Scent of the Green Papaya (described in a press release by the Cultural Center as “so placid and filled with sweetness that watching it is like listening to soothing music”) accompanies a dinner by chef Chad Gardner at his restaurant, 533 Viet Fusion.

The international scale of the first four selections speaks to another theme Haffter hopes to infuse into the Culinary Cinema program: travel. After starting out in feature films, Haffter spent the better part of the past decade directing documentaries around the globe—an experience she values while acknowledging that for many people, extensive travel is not possible. But Haffter thinks some elements of foreign cultures can be imported through food.

“What is really original to a country is the taste of it,” she said. “Food means embracing the entire world.”

Tickets to the initial screening are free, and will cost $10 in the following months, while screening-and-dinner packages will cost between $85 and $120. Haffter is grateful for the early support of local businesses—Savory Spice, Hot Purple Energy and Ferguson Bath, Kitchen and Lighting Gallery are sponsors—and hopes that others will follow.

“When local sponsors believe in us and help us, then the price (can) go down, and that would serve the people,” she said.

Haffter said she’s happy the series is beginning in August, generally considered the quietest month of the year in the Coachella Valley.

“It may be a little risky, but we want to proclaim we’re not doing this just for snowbirds,” she said. “We are doing it for the Coachella Valley. We are doing it for moviegoers; we are doing it for foodies; we are doing it for people who want to travel without traveling.”

Culinary Cinema kicks off at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 21, with a free screening of The Hundred-Foot Journey. After the film, a dinner prepared by Chef Daniel Villanueva will take place, and costs $120, at the Palm Springs Cultural Center, 2300 E. Baristo Road, in Palm Springs. For tickets or more information, visit palmspringsculturalcenter.org.

Published in Previews and Features

Mark Your Calendars: Greater Palm Springs Restaurant Week Happens June 2-11

It’s the favorite time of year for many Coachella Valley foodies: Greater Palm Springs Restaurant Week is almost here! This year, it will take place from Friday, June 2, through Sunday, June 11.

Why is the week so fantastic? Well, when else can one have a full, three-course dinner at Wally’s Desert Turtle for just $39?

For the uninitiated: During these 10 days, restaurants valley-wide offer special, discounted prix-fixe menus. In the past, the event has been dinner-focused—but this year, restaurants can offer special lunch menus, too. Three-course dinner prices are $29, $39 or $49, while two-course lunch prices are $15, $20 or $25. Participating restaurants should offer their regular menus during these 10 days, but emphasize the special Restaurant Week offerings.

As of our press deadline, the new Restaurant Week website had an ever-growing list of participating restaurants, along with the prices of their menus—but only a few of the actual menus had been posted. However, that handful of posted menus looked inviting. For example, Vicky’s of Santa Fe, in Indian Wells, is offering entrées including a 10-ounce flat iron steak, boneless beef short ribs or New Zealand lamb chops, among other offerings, plus an appetizer and dessert, for just $29. That’s one hell of a deal.

Check out visitgreaterpalmsprings.com/restaurantweek for more information.


Pho 533 Is Now 533 Viet-Fusion

Chad Gardner, the man behind the successful Dash and a Handful catering business, purchased Pho 533—then a longtime family-owned pho joint in Palm Springs’ Smoke Tree Village Shopping Center—back in 2015.

Ever since, Gardner has been guiding the restaurant through a series of changes. First, he revamped the menu. Next, he expanded the restaurant into an adjoining space, and completely revamped the décor—including the addition of a spring roll bar. Now he’s making even more changes to the menu—and to the name as well.

In fact, the only significant thing remaining from the old Pho 533 are those numerals: The restaurant is now called 533 Viet-Fusion.

“I had a vision of what it would be even before I first heard Pho 533 was for sale,” said Gardner in a press-release quote. “I have always wanted to blend classics with contemporary Vietnamese.”

New menu items include a Maine lobster-claw spring roll; ahi Viet-nachos (wonton chips and topped with avocado, spicy ahi tuna, cilantro, Fresno chili and various sauces); tamari-glazed Atlantic salmon; red curry “ramen”; and chile-braised osso bucco.

By the way, there’s a good reason Gardner is keeping “533” as part of the name: That was the number on the side of the USS Cheboygan County, an old Navy tanker that transported nearly 300 Vietnamese refugees who were fleeing the fall of Saigon in 1975. One of those passengers was 10-year-old Anh Ho Rock—the founder of the original Pho 533.

533 Viet-Fusion is located at 1775 E. Palm Canyon Drive, No. 625. For more information, call 760-778-6595, or visit 533VietFusion.com.


In Brief

Coming soon to the under-construction downtown Palm Springs redevelopment project: a Tommy Bahama restaurant. … Also coming soon to downtown Palm Springs: Urban Crates, an indoor farmers’ market sort of thing at 358 S. Indian Canyon Drive, just a door or two down from Rooster and the Pig. There’s a sign up in one of the windows that says vendor stations are available by calling 760-808-3756. We’ll watch and see what develops. … Oops! We missed the opening of the Wine Emporium in Old Town La Quinta last September. Well, better late than never! The restaurant and live-music venue features a big retail wine room, and seems to have lots of cool stuff going on. Stop by 78100 Main St.; call 760-565-5512; or track down the place on Facebook for more information. … Add UberEATS to the growing list of services offering restaurant deliveries in the Coachella Valley. While I am morally opposed to the company’s management, I tested out the delivery service recently; I got some breakfast delivered from one of my favorites, the Broken Yolk Café. Pros: The delivery was fast, and the food came hot and fresh; it only cost 99 cents for the delivery itself. Cons: There’s no way to tip the driver via the app. Yeah, the app emphasizes that driver tips are neither necessary nor expected, but I still felt like a major ass when I realized I had only $1 in cash on me to give for a tip. Lesson learned.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

Pho 533 Expands, Adds a Spring Roll Bar

About a year and a half ago, Chad Gardner—known for his fantastic Dash and a Handful Catering business—purchased longtime old-school Vietnamese restaurant Pho 533, located at 1775 E. Palm Canyon Drive.

What a difference 18 month makes: On Tuesday, Aug. 30, Pho 533 will emerge from a month-long closure as a completely different place.

First, Gardner has doubled Pho 533’s size while also revamping the menu. Second, he’s added a cocktail bar. Third, he’s added a 10-seat spring roll bar.

Yes, that’s right … a spring roll bar.

On Sunday, Aug. 28, Pho 533 offered a sneak preview to the Palm Springs Eating and Living Facebook group—and the new digs are gorgeous.

The food’s pretty amazing, too. The new spring roll menu includes 10 different types of rolls, featuring everything from mango to chicken to lobster to mushrooms. The samples of the spring rolls being created—“hand rolled to order,” thank you very much—at that aforementioned spring roll bar were delicious. I got a bite or two of the spicy tuna roll ($16), which comes with sashimi-grade tuna mixed with pickled ginger, shirataki noodles, cilantro, lettuce, cucumber, sesame seeds and the house sriracha mayo. Let’s just say I am looking forward to enjoying my own spicy tuna roll, and don’t expect me to be in a sharing mood.

As for the drinks coming out of the new bar: The event featured the tequila “buoi”—Pho 533’s version of the paloma—which includes Arette blanco tequila, Bundaberg grapefruit soda, lime and salt. Tasty, indeed.

For more information, visit Pho 533’s Facebook page or website for more information.


Coming Soon: Umami Seoul Korean BBQ and Japanese Cuisine

We have a good-news, bad-news situation here.

First, the bad news: Thai Kitchen 1, which was located at 67555 S. Palm Canyon Drive, in Cathedral City, has closed. Thai Kitchen 1 was one of my favorite Thai restaurants in the valley, and I learned the restaurant had closed the hard way: When I called the restaurant to get some takeout, I got that dreaded message: “Beep beep BEEP! We’re sorry. You have reached a number has been disconnected or is no longer in service.”

Now, the good news: The folks who owned downtown Palm Springs’ Wasabi for many years are opening Umami Seoul Korean BBQ and Japanese Cuisine in that spot.

“How did we come up with the name Umami Seoul?” the restaurant’s website asks. “We wanted to combine both our Japanese and Korean influences into one. Umami means savory in Japanese, using and challenging all of your senses to create a truly ‘umami’ experience. Seoul is our hometown city in Korea and the place that has inspired all of our Korean cuisine.”

The online menu promises various appetizers, sushi rolls and Korean specialties. Yum!

The restaurant should be open any day now; heck, it may be open by the time you read this. Stop by, or visit www.umamiseoul.com and www.facebook.com/umamiseoulps for updates and more information.


In Brief

Fans of the Augustine Casino’s restaurants—Café 54 and the Menyikish Bar and Grill—take note: The entire casino will be closed from Monday, Sept. 19, through Sunday, Oct. 16. The Augustine Band of Cahuilla Indians is taking that time to do a full-scale remodel of the 14-year-old facility, located at 84001 Avenue 54, in Coachella. Visit www.augustinecasino.com for details and updates. … Coming soon: The Big Rock Pub, to 79940 Westward Ho Drive, in Indio. Expect “a blend of classic rock and classic cuisine.” Visit www.thebigrockpub.com for more info, including details on Big Rock’s job fair, taking place Sept. 6-9. … Congrats to the good folks at Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill, at 350 S. Indian Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, who on Aug. 28 celebrated the one-year anniversary of the restaurant’s popular Sunday Desert Divas Drag Brunch! For just $14.95, it’s an amazing deal. (Be sure to bring dollars to tip the divas, too!) Visit rioazulpalmsprings.com for more info. … Get ready to enjoy German beers and eats—and support a great cause while doing so! From 5 to 10 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29, through Sunday, Oct. 2, Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge, at 849 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, will be holding an Oktoberfest celebration—and 30 percent of all Oktoberfest proceeds will go to the March to Equality, billed as “the most expansive virtual march in history supporting full LGBT equality.” Visit marchtoequality.org for more details. … Please extend a hearty Coachella Valley welcome to Andrew Cooper, the new executive chef at the La Quinta Resort and Club, at 49499 Eisenhower Drive, in La Quinta. He’ll oversee the food and beverage program at all of the resort’s bars and restaurants, including Morgan’s in the Desert. Cooper’s 15-year career includes a lot of time at various Four Seasons resorts, most recently the Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado in Santa Fe, N.M. More info at www.laquintaresort.com. … Popular build-your-own-pizza joint Pieology Pizzeria has opened its first valley location, at 42500 Bob Hope Drive, Suite D, in Rancho Mirage. Head to www.pieology.com for details. … Coming soon to the old Sam’s Sushi location at The River, 71800 Highway 111, in Rancho Mirage: Fox and Fiddle, a British-style pub. There are a bunch of Canadian locations of Fox and Fiddle; visit www.foxandfiddlecalifornia.com for more info. … Keep your eye open for changes at Matchbox, on the second floor at 155 S. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. It’s under new ownership; a new name and menu should soon follow. … We’ve been hearing nothing but raves about Cie Sichuan Cuisine, which opened a couple of months ago at 45682 Towne St., in Indio. We’ll give a more detailed report after we’ve had a chance to check it out; in the meantime, find menus and more info at www.facebook.com/ciesichuancuisineofficial.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

New: Elixir at the V Palm Springs Hotel

Could Palm Springs be entering an era when hotel-pool restaurants are all the rage with locals?

Given the wild success of Reservoir at the Arrive Hotel, at 1551 N. Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs, it’s possible—especially if the new restaurants at the V Palm Springs live up to their potential.

The V Palm Springs, located at 333 E. Palm Canyon Drive, is not quite finished yet; about half of the former Curve hotel opened just before April’s big music festivals, with the rest of the rooms slated to open later this year.

As for the food: The V’s owners enlisted the help of the New York-based Blank Slate Group to develop the restaurant concepts. Keep your fingers crossed that Solstice, the V’s signature restaurant, will be open late this summer (i.e., September or so). Press materials say Solstice “will be a desert-inspired, simple, modern American restaurant and cocktail lounge, serving creative farm-to-table fare with a commitment to the freshest locally sourced ingredients,” during breakfast, lunch and dinner. Slated for the menu are dishes including “roasted bass with preserved blood orange, fiddleheads, spring peas and lemon balm,” and “grilled skirt steak with cilantro spaetzle, black garlic puree, crispy shiitake and mache.”

You don’t have to wait to check out Elixir Pool Bar and Grill, which opened in mid-April. “Asian-fusion BBQ fare” is the emphasis here, with dishes including a green curry guacamole for starters, and entrées including fried rice noodles with sautéed vegetables.

During a preview event at the V, I was able to taste a couple of the V’s signature cocktails. I especially enjoyed the Cucumber Crush, with citrus-infused vodka, cucumber juice, lime, Velvet Falernum and pineapple.

Brian Kabateck, one of the attorneys who owns the V, told me he does not want the V to just be enjoyed by visitors.

“The local community is very important to us,” he said.

Get more information at vpalmsprings.com.


United Way of the Desert’s Annual Gala This Year Is ‘Shaken, Not Stirred’

Like martinis? Want to help out a fine cause? Have an extra $275 sitting around?

If your answer to all of those questions is, “Why, sure!” you’ll want to get your tickets for “Shaken, Not Stirred,” the 2016 edition of the annual gala put on by the United Way of the Desert.

It takes place at 6 p.m., Friday, May 6, at the Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage, at 68900 Frank Sinatra Drive. Your $275 will get you live music, dancing, entertainment—and, of course, signature martinis!

For more details, call 760-323-2731, or visit www.unitedwayofthedesert.org.


In Brief

The Funkey family—the people behind Giuseppe’s, Bar and Smoke Tree BBQ, all located in Palm Springs—have opened a second Smoke Tree BBQ location in Palm Desert, at 73850 Highway 111. Get smoked pork baby-back ribs, Angus choice brisket and other yummy food, plus cocktails, daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; smoketreebbq.com. … Chad Gardner, the owner of Dash and a Handful catering and Pho 533, has announced plans to open a new restaurant at the Andaz Palm Springs, 400 N. Palm Canyon Drive, when it opens in 2017. Fez Modern Moroccan will emphasize Moroccan fare, obviously, as well as vegan and vegetarian delights. Keep up to date at www.facebook.com/fezmodernmoroccan. ... We were zooming down the road through Rancho Mirage the other day when we noticed a sign announcing that Fisherman’s Crab Restaurant would soon be taking over the old Crab Pot location at 70030 Highway 111. That’s all we know for now; watch this space for more information. … Coming soon to the Henry Frank Gallery at 276 N. Palm Canyon Drive: Tipper’s Gourmet Marketplace. From the Facebook page: “Tipper’s Gourmet Marketplace is poised to be the No. 1 destination when it comes to quality grab-and-go-prepared foods in Palm Springs. The store will be an international market and deli that will feature a signature rotisserie chicken. In addition to the chicken, the store will offer prepared breakfast, lunch and dinner items as well as specialty food items and gifts from around the world.” Watch www.tippersgourmetmarketplace.com for updates. … Downtown Palm Springs’ La Plaza will soon be the home of Grand Central Palm Springs. Restaurant veteran Aaron Rogers is the general manager, and the restaurant’s website says Grand Central will have a full bar and serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. Expect the fare to be “American contemporary, a mix of updated classics and comfort foods” using locally sourced, sustainable ingredients where possible. Visit www.grandcentralpalmsprings.com for more information.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

What: The Wok-Fired Jasmine Rice With Lemongrass Pork

Where: Pho 533, 1775 E. Palm Canyon Drive, No. 625, Palm Springs

How Much: $13

Contact: 760-778-6595; pho533palmsprings.com

Why: It tastes even better than it looks.

It’s a good-news, bad-news kind of a situation that we have here.

The good news: Pho 533, a Palm Springs Vietnamese-food mainstay for many years, is better than ever, thanks to its new ownership. Chad Gardner, owner of Dash and a Handful Catering, has raised the bar at Pho 533 since he took over in April, tweaking the menu and refining everything that comes out of the kitchen.

The bad news: If you’re hankering for the best Vietnamese food in the entire valley, perhaps, you’d better go this weekend, because the restaurant will be closing for two weeks of renovations after dinner service on Sunday, Aug. 16.

Whether you head to Pho 533 this weekend, or wait until it reopens on Wednesday, Sept. 2, you can’t go wrong with any of the “Viet fusion” fare on offer. However, we’re particularly smitten with one item right now: The wok-fired jasmine rice with lemongrass pork.

Look at the picture above. Is that gorgeous, or what? Well, we’re here to tell you the dish tastes as good as it looks—maybe even better. The jasmine rice is a little soft and a little chewy. The lemongrass pork is tender, juicy and so delicious that you’ll be thinking about it for days. Scallions, seasonal vegetables, spices, egg and tamari sauce (it’s soy sauce without the wheat, more or less) complete the flavor profile—and what a flavor profile it is.

The dishes at Pho 533 aren’t necessarily cheap, but the portion sizes are huge, and the food quality is off the charts, so what comes on your plate is worth every penny.

It’s in your taste buds’ best interests to get to Pho 533 this weekend. If you don’t, you’ll have to deal with 16 days of bad news … but as of Sept. 2, it’ll be all good.

Published in The Indy Endorsement

Mark Your Calendars: Dining Out for Life Is on Thursday, April 30

Every year, dozens of area restaurants agree to give a chunk of one special day’s proceeds to the Desert AIDS Project, and that sacrifice makes a big financial difference: Last year, more than $175,000 was raised for DAP’s client services, thanks to about 10,000 diners and 43 participating restaurants.

This year, DAP has even higher hopes for Dining Out for Life, which will take place on Thursday, April 30: As of this writing, 47 restaurants had pledged to participate, with each giving at least 33 percent of the day’s proceeds to DAP.

That’s fantastic. Even better: Two restaurants have committed to giving 100 percent of the day’s take to DAP: Ristretto (500 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs) and Pho 533 (1775 E. Palm Canyon Drive, No. 625, Palm Springs; more on Pho 533 later).

By the way: The Independent is a sponsor of Dining Out for Life, and we have agreed to “adopt” three restaurants during the day; follow us on Facebook to watch as we eat breakfast at King’s Highway at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club (701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs), lunch at Alicante (140 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs), and dinner at Bar (340 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs). Or better yet—join us at these great restaurants; have a great meal; and help the Desert AIDS Project surpass last year’s $175,000 take.

Go out and eat for a good cause; it’s literally the least you can do!

For more information, including a complete list of participating restaurants, visit www.diningoutforlife.com/palmsprings.

Dash and a Handful Owner Buys Pho 533

Chad Gardner, the brains (and the culinary talent) behind the Dash and a Handful catering company, is in the process of buying Pho 533, the Vietnamese restaurant that calls the Smoke Tree Village Shopping Center in Palm Springs home.

In a news release, Gardner said he had no immediate plans to make big changes at the restaurant; in fact, he said he is a longtime fan of Pho 533.

“I’m extremely excited to take the reins of this great restaurant and its loyal following that has been lovingly cultivated by its current ownership,” Gardner said, in the type of awkward quote that could only be found in a press release. He continued: “You may see some new specials introduced here and there, but the current menu will remain virtually intact.”

According to that news release, Gardner has long wanted to own a restaurant. “I started my career in restaurants, and I love all types of Asian food, but since I was trained as a French chef, I particularly love Vietnamese food,” he said.

Escrow is expected to close sometime in early April.

Congratulations to Gardner! Watch pho533palmsprings.com for updates.

In Brief

Serious Food and Drink has moved in to the space at 415 N. Palm Canyon Drive that was the longtime home of Hamburger Mary’s. The restaurant’s website describes Serious as a “new American restaurant with a fun, relaxed atmosphere that is great for all occasions,” and there is some serious talent behind the place. Expect compelling appetizers, salads, sandwiches and entrées for lunch, while dinner brings a lot of tasty stuff—with price tags topping out at $28. I personally can’t wait to try out the Quack Stack appetizer ($13.95): Take duck fat fries, and add shredded duck confit and duck-egg hollandaise. I gained four pounds just reading that—but my mouth is watering. Learn more at seriousfoodanddrink.com. … With the change in seasons comes changes in menus—and such is the case at Simon Kitchen + Bar at the Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs. On Monday, March 30, the restaurant—which carries the name of celebrity chef Kerry Simon, and is led by executive chef Jeremy Saccardi—added new “social plates” (read: appetizers) that include veal meatballs Parmigana with rapini and burrata; and wok-charred edamame with togarashi. That sounds good, but it was the steak addition that got our attention: a 22- or 36-ounce bone-in rib eye prepared with marrow butter and special steak sauce. Yes, marrow butter. More info at www.hrhpalmsprings.com/simon.htm. … Finally, sad news: Michael Farber, the proprietor at Dickie O’Neal’s Irish Pub, at 2155 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, passed away due to heart problems. Following his death, Dickie O’Neal’s closed its doors indefinitely. Both Farber and Dickie O’Neal’s Irish Pub will be greatly missed.

Published in Restaurant & Food News