Inveterate carnivore that I am, I never pass up an opportunity to cut into a juicy, perfectly charred-rare filet mignon. So when my Palm Springs pal Pattie, a member of Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa’s Paradise Rewards Club (the Red Card level, thank you very much) invited me to that special spot’s The Steakhouse as her guest at a members only Wine Blending Dinner, I jumped at the chance.
When I arrived promptly at our appointed meeting time, the hostess showed me to our booth in the dimly lit, crimson-colored dining room, which was fairly hopping with hungry diners on a Thursday evening. I started off with a Mirage-Tai, bartender Alfredo’s sublime pineapple-and-Malibu-rum concoction, his and The Steakhouse’s entry into the Rancho Mirage Cocktail Challenge, which coincides with all manner of celebrations marking the 40th anniversary of the city. To say this potion tasted of vacation is an understatement. I was instantly transported to a hot, sunny, exotic locale.
My next pleasant surprise occurred when I opened my menu. The Steakhouse has recently upgraded to battery-powered cartes du jour that are illuminated by a back-light. Such a clever idea—one that I’ve never seen before…and I’ve travelled the world, honey! It sure came in handy in this sumptuously darkened space, as did the iPad presented to me, loaded with an informative, interactive wine list that tells you everything you could possibly need to know about the considerable collection of bottles on offer. Since the dinner planned for us included wines matched with each of the five pre-planned courses we would delight in, I needed neither the menu nor the wine list. And yet, I couldn’t help but plan my next dinner at The Steakhouse, which will hopefully be in the very near future. If you can’t tell already, I love this place.
But back to our members only meal. We began with a compressed watermelon salad with ice wine vinegar, shaved prosciutto, and cotija cheese tossed with micro mint lime. It was light and divine, especially when paired with the perfect Genesis Riesling. Course Two was an open-faced lobster ravioli with a tarragon marscapone mousse bathing in a champagne vanilla nage with an oven-roasted heirloom tomato. Are you hungry yet? It was paired with a Franciscan Sauvignon Blanc whose citrus-grapefruity notes worked miracles on my tastebuds.
After an intermezzo of meyer lemon sorbet with basil crystals garnished with opal basil, we were served a duck confit à l’orange with a ciabatta toast, duck cracklin’, orange marmalade gastrique, and smoked black pepper. Pairing this course with a delicious Franciscan Merlot was a genius move on the part of Agua Caliente executive chef Mike Milligan and Steakhouse chef Corey Tovar—both masters of their domain.
For our main course, Pattie and I parted ways—plate-wise. While she went with the prescribed marinated Colorado lamb sirloin with sweet dark cherry demi-glace, celery root puree, and sautéed shimeji mushrooms, I just had to have my petite filet, which was so spectacular I literally dreamed about it—and didn’t want to wake up. The Franciscan Cabernet that was served worked equally well with each of our dishes. And the Robert Mondavi Muscato D’oro that accompanied our dessert—a coconut crème fraiche gelato served with roasted pineapple on a cookie tuile in spiced consommé—was the perfect sweet finish to a gastronomic grand slam.
If you’ve never sat down to dine at The Steakhouse, you’ve been missing out. So make a reservation—this place is pleasantly busy every night of the week—and hurry on down to Agua Caliente. Sweet dreams…