26
May
10

Palm Springs – Circa 59 at the Riviera Resort and Spa

Seared scallops at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa.

Seared scallops at Circa 59. Lana Maytak photo

I left Vancouver on a rainy Monday a.m., and apparently “it’s cold” there now so I feel like I’ve made the right decision coming here. More or less.

Last night, the first night, we – that is, my photographer and I – were treated to a dinner at Circa 59, the restaurant at our accommodations, the Riviera Resort and Spa (from downtown Palm Springs, by cab a few minutes – I don’t recommend walking it). With high-backed wing chairs, chandeliers that look like they were designed by H.R. Giger and black and white photos of Frank Sinatra and Raquel Welch (doing her lounge act, no less), it’s a funky modern restaurant with a nod to the Riviera’s storied, Old Hollywood past.

Starting with a series of appetizers, we were most impressed with the lobster ginger dumplings (five of them, with a spicy Japanese dressing) and the oysters (komomoro), which my photog described as “the best oysters I ever had” – though she’s from Siberia, where oysters are not available on every street corner, and I suspect that may have had as much to do with the ponzu/spring tomato gazpacho topping as the actual slimy dollops themselves.

Oysters at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa.

Oysters at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa. Lana Maytak photo

At this point (following the appetizers) Circa 59’s chef de cuisine came out from the kitchen to see who was being so demanding. Ruben Barragan’s former employer was Chicago’s Wit Hotel, where he worked along with Circa 59 executive chef Bradley Manchester, and he explained that much if not all of the food at Circa 59 is locally sourced and inspired.

Ruben encouraged us to try more, so we sampled the chorizo-stuffed medjool dates, a sinfully candy-like flavour combination that immediately took me back to last year’s Burning Man and the less sophisticated delicacy known as “bacon-wrapped Fudgee-Os”. We also enjoyed the seared scallops with a fava bean and potato sauce (pictured above). The spot prawns were too grainy and dry for my tastes; I maintain (as far as that goes) that they are a hardcore foodie’s food.

Chorizo-stuffed medjool dates at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa.

Chorizo-stuffed medjool dates at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa. Lana Maytak photo

Spot prawns at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa.

The spot prawns at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa. Lana Maytak photo

And then the entrees…

I’m not much of a carnivore but the rib eye was probably as good as any I’ve had; just the right amount of rare, juicy, delectable, with a chantrelle mushroom topping and foi gras red wine sauce. (To interject with a brief wine mention: I was happy to encounter my old friend the Chalk Hill Chardonnay, a personal fave since a California wine-tasting a few months ago, and a wine which went well with the…)

The rib-eye at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa. Lana Maytak photo

The rib-eye with chantrelle mushrooms at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa. Lana Maytak photo

Halibut. Seared, herb-encrusted, and with a red-pepper sauce, but with the mouth-watering rib-eye taste still fresh in our craws, hard to appreciate.

Halibut at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa.

Halibut at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa. Lana Maytak photo

Not so with the butterfish (an out-of-season halibut). Two small but juicy slabs served with sides of a campari tomato so delicious it almost caused a death duel between myself and the photographer, with a salsa verde and roasted artichoke hearts on the side.

Butterfish at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa.

Butterfish at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa. Lana Maytak photo

About the desserts, well, the less said the better – not because the chocolate carmel tart with a scoop of hazelnut ice creamy and the sticky toffee pudding weren’t fantastic but because even recalling their names I am filled with longing.

The chocolate carmel tart at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa.

The chocolate carmel tart at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa. Lana Maytak photo

And now we come to the sad relationship part of the story. Because the meal most reminded me of the fantastic dinner shared with the Texas Twister at the Fairmont in Sonoma on our first night there, and how it cemented our love… and how that love is now over, alas, and I’m here in Palm Springs at another fabulous hotel but not with someone I love, or whom there’s anything beyond a platonic relationship (though I for one would like to change that). And I remember that feeling, and I want it back.

Still, I can’t complain – I’m here, with two days (three if you count Friday, the day we leave) of sun, pool and reading left. And, as the saying goes: we’ll always have Sonoma.


1 Response to “Palm Springs – Circa 59 at the Riviera Resort and Spa”


  1. June 13, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    Sounds like a great place! I’ll have to check it out!


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