Heck of a VUE: Culinary Excitement at Indian Wells Golf Resort
At Indian Wells Golf Resort, innovation and renovation are the name of the game. Over the past several years, the two courses have been rebuilt into powerhouse experiences, an impressive new clubhouse was built, and now the new VUE Grill & Bar restaurant has become the “it” destination for visitors and Coachella Valley residents with its creative menu, come-hither promotions and effervescent ambience.
First opened as the IW Club in 2008, a recent multi-million dollar makeover includes a new outdoor pavilion, updated patio (with retractable awning) and a menu that combines favorite foods with seasonal influences. “It was time for a change,” says Executive Chef Cale Falk. “This place was pretty old school with the cuisine and décor. Our new concept reflects current trends and seasonal changes. And we’re keeping it fun, interesting and artistic with flavors and pairings of food. We’re just keeping it really fresh.”
That freshness can be found across an expansive lounge, casual dining room and sushi bar, all of which contributes to a more informal, gastropub atmosphere that extends across the menus.
For imbibers: Conclude your round or precede a meal with a host of craft cocktails and regional beer selections. Those playing from the red tees will especially enjoy the Tiki-style rum and fruit juice Painkiller cocktail, while the brew selection is highlighted by a refreshing Blonde Ale and potent (9.0% ABV) 111 Pale Ale from nearby La Quinta Brewing Company. A six-page wine list highlights a verdant selection of California cabs and an exceptional whiskey menu offers nearly 100 choices of aged affection.
On the lunch and lounge menus, Falk presents 19th hole standards with player appease in his purview. “When I write my menus, I always keep the golfers in mind,” he says.
Examples include Fried Mary’s Chicken & Doughnuts or Bacon Mac n Cheese (with lobster option) and five-cheese sauce made in-house. For a standard gone artisan, don’t miss the killer BLT-A which excels with Niman Ranch bacon.
Complimenting Falk’s creativity is the sushi bar, open Tuesdays – Saturdays from 3 p.m. – 9 p.m. Akin to the executive chef’s elevated conventions, veteran sushi chef Akio Naito couples a menu of rolls with inventive options such as the Buehler’s Day Off with spicy tuna in crushed Cool Ranch Doritos and the new Rasta Roll, topped with ahi, mango and avocado. A thorough sake menu is furnished and all-you-can-eat sushi is offered for $25, with choice of any one roll at a time and yellowtail, salmon and tuna nigiri.
Mirroring the restaurant reshape, Falk’s farm-to-table philosophy can now be found across the platings. An impressive abundance of local and California-sourced ingredients are dotted throughout in accord with the menu’s seasonal changes. “That’s what keeps it fun for me,” Falk says. “That’s why I’m a chef; to be able to create.”
Meats are selectively culled from choice California providers such as Brandt Farms, California Kurobuta Pork, Jidori Chicken and Mary’s Free Range Chicken. The agricultural plentitude of the Coachella Valley is also well represented with fruits and vegetables ranging from grapefruit, peppers, cauliflower, kale and the valley’s world-renowned Medjool dates.
On the small plates menu for both lunch and dinner, the dates excel as a perfect starter. One appetizer that Cale points to specifically is the Medjool date stuffed with goat cheese, pine nuts, golden raisins a little honey and wrapped with Serrano ham.
For entrées, both the U10 Diver Scallops and Scottish Salmon come highly-recommended and pair perfectly with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Additionally, the carnivorous will enjoy a filet (with parmesan creamed spinach and roasted garlic) matched with a Napa Cabernet.
For the new summer menu, Falk foresees lighter fare to assuage the desert heat while keeping his own inventive juices aflame. Summer diners can anticipate such dishes as Baby Squid Stuffed with Chorizo & Crab, Ricotta Gnocchi with Red Beet Borscht as a vegetarian option and a Kurobuta Pork Chop with marinated mushrooms, roasted parsnip and a chipotle glaze.
“The seasonal changes are keeping it fresh and keeping me on my toes,” Falk says.
At VUE Grill & Bar, it’s in diners’ best interest to watch him dance.