By Gayl Biondi
Until 2014, you could only enjoy Chef Daniel Villanueva’s imaginative cuisine on a Hollywood movie set or a private plane. After a successful 24-year career as an entertainment industry caterer, Chef Daniel “landed” at the Atlantic Aviation terminal at Palm Springs International Airport where he met General Manager Karin Davidson.
Creating palate-pleasing foods in eye-appealing presentations for high-end clients comes naturally to Villanueva. He quickly became the go-to food service provider for clients flying in and out of the private air terminal. Chef Daniel even went through the rigorous TSA background check so he could personally deliver food directly onboard private flights.
It didn’t take long for Ms. Davidson and Chef Daniel to realize the potential in an empty space next to the onsite gas station on Gene Autry Trail. And so, Balisage Bistro was born. ‘Balisage’ is a French military term for beacon lights used for navigation. “The name pays homage to the airport community nearby, the time I spent living in Europe when my dad was in the military, and the idea that everyone needs a guiding light in their life,” says Chef Daniel.
The unorthodox location seems to be part of the appeal for loyal fans, who have embraced Chef Daniel’s attentive service and flavorful offerings from around the Mediterranean. His spice palette includes tastes of Morocco, Portugal, Spain, France, Hungary, Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Israel. He serves only Mediterranean wines, makes his own sangria, bread, and sauces, and lists his entrées without side dishes so he can change them according to what’s fresh and in season.
Every dining experience at Balisage Bistro is marked by friendly, attentive service and consistency in the taste and presentation of the cuisine. No detail is overlooked by Chef Daniel as he peers out a window from his kitchen into the dining room to monitor the action while he cooks. Diners can usually count on him visiting the table at least once during their meal. Those who choose the Chef’s Table get an even more intimate interaction with the charismatic entrepreneur. Once you find it, Balisage Bistro is a first class ticket to dine. Open every day from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
145 North Gene Autry Trail, Palm Springs, CA 92262
• Frittata “More” with pancetta, bacon and vegetables
• Grilled Burger with fried egg on brioche and Sofrito Salsa
• Lobster Salad and preserved lemon aioli on brioche
• Flatbread “Wrap” with Sole pickled peppers and cucumber yogurt
• Grilled Burger with basil caper aioli, and Manchego on brioche
HORS D’ OEUVRES
• Roasted Sole in avocado bowl with cucumber tapenade
• Portuguese Bacon-Wrapped Dates with Cabrales blu cheese and rosewater reduction
• Shrimp Escabeche with Spanish olives, garlic, sherry, red onion and citrus
• Kleftiko Greek braised lamb with fennel, carrots, eggplant and preserved lemon
• Seafood Paella with whitefish, squid, shrimp and green mussels
• Duck Cassoulet with Portuguese bacon, Spanish chorizo, white beans and harissa
• Chicken Pastilla in phyllo with cinnamon, ginger, egg, onion, herbs and almonds
• Raspberry Tart with basil rosewater creme
• Flourless Chocolate Torte with layered ganache and chocolate mousse
• Fig and Goat Cheese Soufflé with vanilla bean crème anglaise and fig port wine sauce
• Post Scriptum De Chryseia 2011, Douro, Portugal
• Assyrtiko 2012, Lyrarakis, Greece
• Bodegas Iranzo 2011 Vertus, Spain
• Simonsig Stellenboch 2012 Chenin Blanc, South Africa
• Count Karolyi 2013 Gruner Veltliner, Hungary
• House Sangria with cinnamon, clove and vanilla bean
• House Lavender Limonada Sangria