Wally’s Desert Turtle has always symbolized the best of both worlds to me. On the one hand, we get to bask in the classic, original design of über interior decorator Steve Chase. On the other, the entire environment has been gracefully updated over the years. On the menu, all of Wally’s best-loved standards remain, but each has been excitingly reinterpreted by the vibrantly talented young Executive Chef Richard Pelz, who also brings his more modern creations to the table.
On our last visit, my friend Dahlia from Denver and I savored the Seared Foie Gras with Frutti Di Mostarda and the Boston Lettuce & Bay Shrimp salad for starters. As a middle course, we split one order of Richard’s latest must-have—Scottish Salmon over a mixture of white navy beans, green and yellow squash, roasted red peppers, rock shrimp, and basil pistou (a Provençal sauce similar to pesto). My taste buds haven’t been so thankful in a long time. As our main courses, we chose the Superior Farm Roasted Lamb Rack served with braised lamb shoulder ravioli, crushed chickpeas, curried cauliflower, romesco, coriander purée, and lamb jus (for moi), and the Vongole Linguini bursting with Manila clams, rock shrimp, chorizo, chili flakes, and oregano (for Dahlia). Come time for dessert, we couldn’t resist sharing the Bananas Foster Soufflé.
If you haven’t had a chance to visit Wally’s this season, you’ve still got multiple chances to do so. Summer closure happens after Father’s Day, June 19 (until owners Michael and Nicole Botello thankfully reopen mid-October). But before that, there’s the eatery’s participation in the wildly popular Greater Palm Springs Restaurant Week (June 3-12), where Wally’s will offer the great bargain of three courses for $38 per person. And don’t forget that Sundays through Thursdays in the bar and Sahara Lounge, Richard’s seasonal three-course prix fixe menu is also available for $38.
It should be obvious to anyone who’s been to Wally’s event just once that this is the perfect spot for special occasions. But I always feel compelled to remind my friends and loyal readers that this is also the ideal setting for a midweek treat to celebrate the fact that we all get to live in this turtle’s gorgeous desert. How lucky are we?