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Palm Springs Progressive Dinner – “Contemporary & Classic”

People sharing appetizers at the table

Part 4 – in a Delicious 4-part Series

By Barbara Beckley

If you’re looking for a fun and unique way to experience the best of Palm Springs cuisine, consider trying out a progressive dinner! This culinary adventure involves visiting multiple restaurants throughout the evening, enjoying a different course at each location. Here are some ideas for a contemporary and classic progressive dinner in Palm Springs.

Contemporary & Classic  – Stop 1

Boozehounds

Get a head start – at Boozehounds, a stylish new find with Happy Hour 2 -5 p.m. seven days a week! Opened in mid-2021 on North Palm Canyon Drive, its name connotes the partner-owners’ love for their and everyone’s doggies. And love of exceptionally fine wine, spirits, and food – SoCal cuisine with a Japanese influence – so unique and tasty that Boozehounds is also featured in the inaugural 2022 Palm Springs Michelin Guide.

boozehounds

Enter through the “Doggy Door” and pick your space among 7,000 square feet of indoor-outdoor high-ceiled style including dining room tables, velvet booths, the bar and lounge, and dog-friendly open-air Atrium Cabana Bar & Patio. Admire the San Jacinto Mountain views. Laugh at the whimsical hand-drawn signage like “Where Dogs Bring Their Human’s” and “Do It Doggy Style.” Many guests don’t. But if you do bring your dog(s), there are four menu items just for them, like the pooch-popular “Doggie TV Dinner” of beef meatloaf, dog treat gravy, peas, and carrots.

Boozehounds-Dogs
Credit: Jenna Murray

Join the theme with a “Go Fetch Frose!” of Tito’s vodka, sparking rose and strawberry basil cordial. Or better – “Aunt Donna’s Dirty Poodle,” with Akashi Single malt whiskey, Nigori Sake, house-made Yuzu-Meyer lemon shrub, house-made miso-mirin syrup, and chocolate bitters. Bow Wowsers! For nibbles, the “Kimchi Fries” are amazing and creative, with house Kimchi, beer cheese and micro cilantro. Even better when you add pork belly or short rib or adobo chicken. Also, a fabulous share: the “Ricotta Board,” with grilled Ube focaccia house buttermilk ricotta – say what? – blueberry compote, candied lemon peel, house whole milk ricotta, crispy prosciutto, and Thai basil gremolata.

Boozehounds

Contemporary & Classic – Stop 2

Spencer’s

Then… make dinner history! At Spencer’s Restaurant at the Mountain, a five-minute drive in the heart of downtown. Elegant and friendly, it’s location has been a Palm Springs dining tradition and gathering place with celebs like Katharine Hepburn, Bob Hope, Zsa Zsa Gabor, and everyone since opening in the 1930s at the historic Palm Springs Tennis Club at the base of the San Jacinto Mountains. Choose a patio table beneath beautifully manicured trees and twinkly lights on the charming (doggie friendly) garden patio. Or in the dining room’s relaxed sophistication. Perusing the large 4-star menu and Wine Spectator’s Best of Award of Excellence 2022 wine list, you’ll understand why people agree “the ambiance is rivaled only by the cuisine.”

spencer's patio

Maybe start with the “Sauteed Crab Cakes.” Maryland blue crab meat with heirloom tomato, lemon butter sauce, capers, and tiny greens with truffle oil. Yes! Or, splurge and indulge in the “American Paddlefish Caviar” with a shot of vodka! Also wonderful, the “Chilled Gazpacho,” with Maine Lobster, using vine-ripened tomato, yellow peppers, and cucumber essence.

Every entrée is superb. Favorites include the “Pan Fried Chilean Seabass,” with braised fennel, artichokes, oven tomatoes, saffron sauce, crispy leeks, and a side of gratinee potatoes and green beans. The “Black Angus Filet Mignon,” and the “Australian Rock Lobster Tail.” But you may not be back for a while. So don’t ignore the amazing “Sonoma Breast of Duck,” with Yukon gold potato puree with oranges, fig & date relish, green beans, Bordeaux cherries and raspberry demi-glace. Or “New Zealand Rack of Lamb,” with whole grain mustard-herbs crusted and gratin potatoes, green beans, and red wine demi-glace. For pasta lovers, consider the “Wild Mushroom Risotto” of Arborio rice, tossed with fresh garlic, shallot, truffle oil and sliced tomatoes. Heavenly. And “Spaghettini Carbonara” with crispy pancetta, parmesan cream and sweet peas.

soft rack of lamb gourmet dish. traditional new zealand cuisine. ready made restaurant food

Classic & Contemporary – Stop 3

GiGi’s

Go out with a bang! Join the party at GiGi’s Restaurant and Bar about two miles down South Palm Canyon Drive. It’s always a blast – especially on weekends – ever since this high-energy indoor-outdoor attention-getter opened in late 2021 at the Sonder V Hotel. Relax outside under the stars and twinkly lights around the cheery fire-pit in GiGi’s Poolside Garden. Listen – maybe dance – to the DJ or live entertainment harkening to the ‘50s Rat Pack scene on Friday and Saturday nights.

GiGi's interior

For dessert, follow the menu’s retro salute with a contemporary twist and share its two desserts: the large slice of “Classic Cheese Cake.” Ask for vanilla bean ice cream on the side. And equally good “Tiramisu.”

gigi's tiramisu

Accompanied, yes please, by one of GiGi’s re-imagined drinks from the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s. Maybe light and refreshing like “The Birds & The Bees (Knees),” with Empress Gin, organic lavender honey, lemon, and egg white. And “Pornstar Paloma” of Casamigos Blanco Tequila, lychee juice, lime, and ruby-red grape fruit soda. Better yet, go stirred & boozy (as the menu says) with the “Sun-Burnt Old Fashioned” of Smoked bourbon, burnt orange Demerara Syrup and bitters. Or shaken & boozy sipping “GiGi’s Martini,” with Absolut Elyx Vodka, house brine, and – Oh my! – a crispy fried olive.

gig's old fashioned

Palm Springs Progressive Dinner – Hipster Cool

Palm Springs Progressive Dinner – “Old & New” 

Palm Springs Progressive Dinner – “Locals’ Delight”  

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