Workshop Kitchen + Bar
By Bryan van Gorder
I spend a lot of weekends in Palm Springs so I’ve been incredibly pleased with the relatively recent arrival of some solid culinary hotspots. Workshop Kitchen + Bar, one of the desert’s newest darlings and vision of owners chef Michael Beckman and restauranteur Joseph Mourani, is an especially fun foodie destination.
Located on Palm Canyon Drive in the historic El Paseo Building and designed by SOMA Architects, Workshop Kitchen + Bar features a pastiche of vintage and modern elements with its 27-feet-high cathedral ceilings, architectural concrete, Heath Ceramics tableware, and Edison bulbs. These details, including the potted cacti on each table, would suggest an environment of industrial austerity. However, the communal table in the center of the room and the bustle of traffic around it end up bringing an unexpected sense of coziness. For those who prefer to dine al fresco, dinner is served in the courtyard as well.
If you arrive on a weekend, there will most likely be a bit of a wait, which makes for a perfect excuse to head to the bar. Besides an extensive selection of wine and beer, Workshop offers a fun mix of classic drinks, including the bright and boldly citrusy champagne cocktail as well as some original libations such as the refreshingly fruity (and pleasantly bitter) Palm Springer.
For dinner, chef Beckman has created a market-driven and seasonal menu of small plates, large plates, and really large plates (such as the 30-ounce, grass-fed rib eye, which I assume is pretty much exclusively meant for sharing), with many of the featured ingredients coming from less than 100 miles away.
My meal began on a great note with an octopus carpaccio. The tender meat, thinly sliced and cooked sous vide, paired exceptionally well with the bright, acidic punch of pickled cauliflower and sweet red peppers. A tiny bit of heat at the end rounded out each bite. Also delicious—albeit a bit more decadent—was the rich and satisfying braised oxtail shephards pie, which offered basically every succulent note you’d expect from a shephards pie.
For the large plates course, we moved on to the expertly seared scallops, vibrantly seasoned and perched atop a delicious braised leek puree. Toasted hazelnuts and a fine dice of apple provided a pleasant bit of sweet crunch. The perfectly cooked, 12-ounce prime, dry-aged, bone-in New York steak had a lightly smoky flavor that matched nicely to the accompanying savory shallot marmalade and syrah jus.
We ended the meal with the sweet and mouth-puckering meyer lemon tart. For those who love its flavor profile, the pairing ginger-beet sorbet offered a bright and sharp (if not a tad aggressive) palate-cleansing foil to the tart.
Workshop Kitchen + Bar is located at 800 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Suite G in Palm Springs, California. For additional information or for reservations (which are definitely recommended), visit the website.