Discover what to order for a light, refreshing lunch At Café des Beaux-Arts — and which dessert you'll find on few other menus in town.
By Lisa Marie Hart
We find in a pandemic that a new café society has emerged, one where the necessity for open-air seating and the desire to commune inspire a graceful, unrushed setting.
The choice to enjoy the day is ours to make. An easy way to do just that comes in three delicious forms at Café des Beaux-Arts: breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Creating what has become a Palm Desert institution, owner Didier Bloch opened the bistro in 1993 and it has beckoned like a lighthouse of classic French comfort food for 27 years. Between its French café soundtrack and the covered open-air patios that curve around the corner of El Paseo and Larkspur Lane, the restaurant offers one of the most distinctive atmospheres in the desert.
Ceiling fans circle above in the summer months, and heaters blaze when the air takes on a chill. Large windows invite a gentle cross-breeze through the two covered terraces. With the option to seat guests in an additional courtyard for safe distancing, seating is plentiful, and patrons are grateful for it. Now, what to order?
Breakfast is served four days a week, Friday through Monday, topped off with Sunday brunch. Often seen at tables for two are a mimosa or Bellini paired with flaky-crusted Quiche Lorraine or an elegant Eggs Benedict. Get an antioxidant immunity-boost through a glass of fresh guava juice from locally grown fruit in season.
Cold Poached Salmon with tarragon mayonnaise.
One of the more traditionally French dishes also happens to be one of Bloch's personal favorites. Duck Magret With Fig Sauce is a roasted, sliced breast of duck served medium rare with the potato of the day and a vegetable. As with all dinner entrees, a choice of soup or salad accompanies. The Roasted Rack of Lamb Provençale and the fish of the day are two other owner picks.
Naturally, French wines and cocktails complement the cuisine. Daily specials include an appetizer, lunch and dinner specials, and at least one fish specialty, such as branzino or Alaskan halibut.
For a sweet send-off, a pair of profiteroles are a shareable French treat found on few Coachella Valley dessert menus. (Though there are no rules about hoarding both. Ordering just one is also an option.) Vanilla ice cream tucked in the middle of choux puffs is drizzled in a warm chocolate sauce and plated with a scatter of berries. "It's pleasant because it's cold and hot at the same time," Bloch notes.
Café des Beaux-Arts' famous copper bar will reopen for happy hour at a safe date in the future. In the meantime, they follow facemask policies and distancing guidelines and have added the option of a no-touch scannable menu for use with smart phones.
On your way in or out, check out Bloch's artist wife Christina's artwork that hangs in the adjoining courtyard windows and ranges from female portraiture and charming cows to still life and local nature.
For more information, visit cafedesbeauxarts.com.