Champagne Sunday Brunch is unique at La Quinta Grill
By Maureen Daly
Special to The Desert Sun
Originally reviewed Feb. 11, 2000
This is a Southern California Champagne Sunday Brunch with a difference. In fact, with several differences.
La Quinta Grill Champagne Sunday Brunch is not our local customary sprawling, serve-yourself buffet, but an elegant seated and served luncheon experience of three gourmet courses with two dozens menu items and specials to choose from, complete from starters through entrees and a tantalizing list of house-made desserts, all accompanied by generous pourings of champagne-style sparkling wines, Spanish import Segura Viudas Brut Reserve, and background guitar music by talented musician, Jon Shearer.
La Quinta Grill
78-045 Calle Cadiz
La Quinta, CA
||11a.m. to 2p.m.
This restaurant, once an old family home, is a gracious, welcoming ranchita with ancient, towering eucalyptus trees, rambling flower gardens, exterior dining patio under white umbrellas, located next to a serene garden pond with lush planting, its own gazebo and waterfalls. There also is inside dining for those who prefer it, with a few select tables in the separate bar, an area always our choice when available.
The main magic here is talented, inventive, hands-on chef/manager Patricia Hook, responsible for every detail, including the brunch menu, from the three soups plus salads, to the seven entree array, the latter including a lavish rib-eye steak presentation, royally prepared with French shirred eggs, accented with tarragon creme fraiche and caviar, presented with oven-roasted potatoes; to the frankly decadent and delicious desserts, six in all, headlined by a traditional Bananas Foster.
Though the spacious interior and gardens can seat up to 180 diners, brunch reservations are a good idea, especially if one wishes to specify a sun/shade location.
There are three soups under starters: a tomato basil gin soup, simmered with slow-roasted Roma Tomatoes, then fresh basil, a touch of Tanqueray gin; chilled gazpacho in the traditional style of southern Spain; and a smoothly perfect corn chowder, prepared with fresh corn and potatoes in rich, creamy stock. Four salads, with a near-classic Caesar, made distinctive by the inclusion of sundried tomatoes and toasted cornbread garlic croutons. Our favorite is local Coachella Valley baby greens, with spiced walnuts, goat cheese and fresh raspberry vinaigrette.
There are more than a half dozen entree courses including an excellent eggs Benedict prepared with tender, moist, smoked salmon instead of grilled Canadian bacon; the rib-eye steak mentioned earlier; salmon, grilled or chilled, served over curried lentil salad with dilled cucumber relish; a wildly inventive dish with eggs baked over baby spinach in giant (and it is big!) portobello mushroom cap, served with roasted red potatoes, redolent of garden rosemary sprigs. The final entree item is a generous serendipity from Hook: herb-crusted rack of lamb, oven-roasted and sliced into chop servings (4), on whole grain mustard and honey sauce, with garlic mashed potatoes and eggplant tomato ragu.
Key lime pie is the customers' dessert favorite here, with limes from Hook's own trees, served with a twist of whipped cream, a slice of fresh lime; with a wildberry crumble with raspberries, blueberries and blackberries, heavy cream on the side; and pear and ginger upside-down cake, topped with pears, ginger and whipped cream as close popularity runner-ups. Our favorite is the individual chocolate bundt cake, oven-warm, with center scoop of vanilla ice cream, a pour-over of Belgian chocolate sauce.
Source: Table for Two