Friday, January 23, 2009

Le Vallauris Palm Springs

I lived in Palm Springs for five years, so now when I go back to visit, I know where the good restaurants are and one I keep returning to is Le Vallauris. Just off the main street, in what was once a residence, the Vallauris is a classy understated venue which serves traditional French cuisine with all the classic touches like white tablecloths and candlelit tables. From the minute you enter, you will immediately feel pampered by the staff, and the co-owner Paul will likely stop by to say hello (he is Belgian), say hello back in French, "Bonsoir", and he will return a broad smile.

It is one of those legendary hangouts for celebrities past and present, with an impossibly romantic garden full of twinkling lights wrapped around a huge tree (in the middle of the garden dining area); the interior is low key with a nice fireplace and tables far enough apart to have private conversations. This is the place to propose marriage or at the very least, to ask for a second date. The garden makes a wonderful setting for a balmy brunch lunch, but I love going there for dinner, when the full menu showcases the talented chef. Try the classic whitefish served with a Dijon whole grain mustard mousseline, leaf spinach, shitake mushrooms with a thin julienne of fried leek, served with a side of steamed potatoes, or the Maine lobster salad, with baby curly endive, asparagus, julienne of carrot, served with a passion fruit, grape seed oil, mustard and champagne vinegar dressing.

Classics are still around for a reason; we only go back to places we love, Le Vallauris is one of mine.

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