When Summer ends many feel a sense of loss of the long warm days and nights. Not true at Villa Royale Inn. As we enter September the temperatures become a bit more temperate and the sun continues to shine. Come join us for a weekend getaway or a quick weekday overnight. Call 760-327-2314 or book through this website www.villaroyale.com
During the month of August join us at Europa Restaurant for a delicious value…our Prix Fixe menu. Chef Kitt Fraser has created a beautifully balanced menu offering and priced it for these hot August nights. For just $39 per person plus tax enjoy three courses: a choice of Tomato Basil Bisque or Ensalada Europa,a choice of Roasted Game Hen with mushroom parmesan risotto, haricots vert with lemon rosemary jus or Seared Scallops with saffron whipped Yukon potato, sauteed spinach and black olive butter. Finish with a choice of a delectable dessert: Early Grey tea infused chocolate granache tart with burnt orange caramel and whipped cream or a Lemon Creme Brulee with fresh berries.
Europa Restaurant is open Wednesday through Sunday evenings at 5:30 p.m. Reservations are appreciated and available by calling 760-327-2314 or at http://www.opentable.com/europa-palm-springs
***menu is subject to change and dependent upon seasonal availability
Hollywood nostalgia, Mediterranean flavors merge at Europa
Pamela Bieri, Special to The Desert Sun 9:17 p.m. PDT June 25, 2015
Europa’s talented Chef Kitt Fraser has created a new summer menu at the romantic hideaway restaurant at Villa Royale Inn, which will be open all summer.
The bones of the restaurant are Mediterranean with its low, wood-beamed ceiling, hand-built fireplace in the main room, French doors leading to a lush patio, and intricate herringbone pattern brick floor. In the 1940s, this was the residence of the groundskeeper and his wife who cooked and cleaned for the inn’s then-owner Sonja Henie, a film star and Olympic figure skater.
In fact, many of the original doors, accessories and antiques are still used in Europa and throughout the inn’s 31 uniquely appointed rooms. The intimate restaurant is a study in classic European décor with a splash of Asian, a combination that was then avant-garde in Hollywood.
Tapestry table skirts are overlaid with white linen; carved armchairs with tapestry cushions; brass table lamps, sconces and crystal chandeliers softly light the rooms and alcoves. Each dinner place is set with blue and white Asian floral chargers topped with black napkins. On the walls are several intricately carved antique Chinese scenes in gold against red backgrounds; a Chinese porcelain vase sits on a shelf above the fireplace with colorful Asian figures placed here and there.
It’s like a Hollywood set right out of the 1940s.
The cuisine is upscale and innovative with creative twists on some classic dishes. Chef Kitt’s new summer menu offers a delicious range of seafood and meat entrees, appetizers and salads, with daily specials that keep the creativity flowing.
To begin, we tasted the heirloom tomato salad that came on a bed of wild rocket topped with red onion, crispy pancetta and feta mousse in a basil vinaigrette. We also tried the delicately-seared diver scallops appetizer with local fava, white beans and sweet peas braised in a pimento-parmesan broth with Spanish chorizo.
Other interesting appetizers are Europa mezze, an assortment of chilled vegetables with white bean and sweet pepper hummus with baba ganoush and homemade za’atar flatbread; and salmorejo, a chilled Andalusian tomato gazpacho with chopped egg, preserved salmon and sweet pepper escabeche.
My husband opted for the beef short rib cavatappi pasta (a large curled shape), a deeply flavored dish with roasted grape tomato puree and garlic-basil jus and topped with homemade ricotta dusted with pecorino Romano cheese.
I chose the shallot-crusted Alaskan halibut, which came crisp and flavorful on the outside, moistly and delicate white flesh inside. It was accompanied by haricots vert, oyster mushrooms and fingerling potatoes with a yellow tomato béarnaise underlying the composition.
Chef Kitt’s alluring menu also includes a seared petite beef tenderloin with tomato-balsamic jam; pan-roasted loin of lamb with sauce soubise; lobster and lump crab carbonara with sweet peas and linguini; and hand-rolled potato and goat cheese gnocchi with basil pesto, toasted pine nuts and pecorino Romano cheese.
Our friendly, knowledgeable waiter, Michael Scott Brooks, told us about the daily specials, described some of the dishes, and tempted us with the fresh, house-made desserts.
Europa has a carefully selected wine list that complements Kitt’s thoughtful, well-crafted menu, with varietals from California, France, Spain and Italy.
Craft, imported and domestic beers, and spirits for classic and specialty cocktails, martinis and blended drinks are available from the inn’s bar that also opens to the pool area for guests.
Entrée price range: $28 to $39
Summer hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 5:30 to 9:30 p.m
Coachella Valley residents come let us pamper you with a dinner, bed and breakfast extravaganza. Get 25% off your one night stay when you purchase an entrée in our award-winning Europa Restaurant. Offer based upon availability. Call direct to redeem savings.
Make your summer vacation extra special! Buy two weeknights and get the third night free. Call for availability and the lowest rates.
Story & Photographs by Pamela Bieri, Special to The Desert
The seasons seem to change gradually in the desert with barely perceptible differences in the temperature, and the direction and quality of sunlight. Perhaps the most beautiful month is April when morning and evening are cool; flowers, cacti and shrubs bloom almost furiously; and even an otherwise hot afternoon is fanned by soft breezes.
Sensuous spring also brings about a change in our palate as we seek out ripe sweet strawberries, the crisp moist crunch of fresh grapes, tender baby carrots, artichokes, zucchini blossoms, and lettuces. Our bodies prepare for summer’s heat, eating lighter to (hopefully) shed unnecessary winter weight.
Taking a cue from the changing climate, many local chefs are now transitioning to lighter fare, such as Executive Chef Kitt Fraser of Europa at the historic Villa Royale, a secluded Tuscan-inspired inn in Palm Springs.
“This is my second menu at Europa,” said Fraser, who came on board last year at the beginning of season. “We have been offering specials every night and asking for feedback as a way for guests to help determine the new spring/summer menu.”
Europa is known for modern continental dishes, taking inspiration from France, Italy and Spain. Fraser’s regular menu has some nine to 12 regular items.
Fresh produce, in-house stocks
Fraser sources from Produce Hunters, a company that focuses on promoting locally grown produce from Ventura County throughout Southern California. In addition to Fraser’s regular weekly orders, the company also will occasionally ship a box of sample produce such as fava beans or baby fennel to encourage clients to experiment with them.
Most recently, Fraser has been featuring braised fava beans, baby fennel, and a dish of fresh baby artichokes sautéed in lemon-rosemary with garlic aioli served over fettuccini.
“You trim off some of the outer leaves before sautéing the baby artichokes,” he said. “You don’t have to remove the inner choke leaves because they are so young and tender you can eat them whole.”
Likewise, baby fennel is tender, yet packed with flavor and doesn’t have the woodiness that mature fennel has, said Fraser.
Because Europa is an intimate restaurant with a relatively slower pace, Fraser has the enviable freedom to create his stocks from scratch, using scraps of tenderloin for beef stock, and as he orders shell-on shrimp, retains the shells for seafood stock.
“This way, I can control the final quality,” he said. “I spend a lot of time by myself in the kitchen preparing stocks, broths and sauces.”
New menu items
Replacing the onion soup gratinee on the menu, Fraser is currently developing cold soups such as a melon gazpacho with marinated sweet peppers and shrimp topped with cilantro; and chilled tomato soup using yellow and red varieties.
Further transition to the spring menu is a lamb rack roasted with a honey/mint glaze; a marinated pork loin that is cut like a New York strip; and Scottish salmon wrapped in filo, Wellington style.
On a bed of rocket lettuce, strawberries and scallions are tossed with a honey and lime vinaigrette.
Although his focus has been on the main menu, desserts are equally delightful. His lemon crepe cake is filled with pastry cream and powered on top with sugar. A mixed berry cobbler has hints of lime and cinnamon. And Villa Royale’s signature light, fluffy cheesecake is served with a berry compote.
“I’ve been experimenting with this new menu so far, and will offer small plates so that people can come in and have multiple dishes,” said Fraser. “We have some great wines and have spent time pairing dishes with them.”
Open all summer
Europa has consistently achieved four-diamond AAA ratings, multiple Wine Spectator awards for its cellar, and high endorsements from Zagat.
Villa Royale owner David Shahriari said, “Chef and I have worked on Europa’s food concept to be as fresh and local as possible.”
The restaurant will remain open all summer “to give locals the opportunity to come and enjoy the place and the food,” said Shahriari. “Local residents matter to us.”
Thank you to all our guests who voted for us! We’ve just won Palm Spring’s Life’s Best of the Best Boutique Inn for the second year in a row. We’re excited to have won this honor and we will continue with our mission to make this the most charming and romantic resort in Palm Springs. Thank you for your votes!
Palm Springs boutique hotels received four of TripAdvisor’s 2015 Travelers’ Choice Awards for the Top 25 Small Hotels, Service, Romance and Bargain Hotels in the U.S. Elevating this prestige further, the City of Palm Springs has been named a top 25 destination in the U.S. by the 2015 Travelers’ Choice Award for the third year in a row.“The culture and draw to Palm Springs started with small, boutique resorts providing unsurpassed hospitality and creating a feeling of home away from home. We’re excited to see that tradition continue, and recognition by our visitors,” said David Shahriari, President of Small Hotels of Palm Springs (SHoPS) and owner of the Villa Royale Inn an Europa Restaurant.
Historically, small hotels have contributed to Palm Spring Tourism and attracted discerning clientele looking for experiences different than those offered by chain hotels. SHoPS., a diverse collection of Palm Springs’ best small boutique resorts, hotels and little inns, provides that experience. All are independently owned and operated, each with their own rich history, personality, architecture, setting, style and ambiance. Most have fewer than fifty guestrooms, and many include suites or villas. These small boutique inns are unique to themselves and many are hidden in distinct and historic neighborhoods throughout the city adding to their appeal.
SHoPS is pleased to have been awarded with these Traveler’s Choice Awards. “With this type of success we look forward to working with large hotels with a goal to make Palm Springs a top five (5) destination,” said Shahriari.
Traveler’s Choice Awards are determined by millions of reviews and opinions from TripAdvisor from travelers around the world.