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New American Cuisine
By Sharon Apfelbaum
Now the storied Riviera poasts a chef to match its recent multimillion dollar makeover. Fresh from creating Baleen at Portofino Hotel in Redondo Beach, Executive Chef Jesse Souza aims to present a “new American” cuisine that complements the hotel’s midcentury modern décor.
With chef stints at high-end, bi-coastal destinations from Maine to Florida and San Francisco to Southern California, Souza is eager to combine fresh ideas and familiar classics. “I want our food to match the legends here,” Souza says.
Modernizing means not replicating but adding nuance to classic dishes. When he makes oysters Rockefeller with arugula and Sambuca, they become oysters “Riviera.” Filet of beef rests on a bed of hash browns covered with a crust of Roquefort. Souza’s signature Hole in One brioche is topped with asparagus and mushroom salad, Parmesan, truffle vinaigrette, and over-easy egg. Ingredients serve as revitalized symbols of the midcentury era.
With an eclectic boutique wine list, Circa 59 offers wine by the bottle or glass from vineyards along the Pacific Coast from Santa Barbara and the Central Coast north through Washington state. Circa 59 also presents a monthly wine dinner series.
The restaurant is open for breakfast from 7:30 to 11 a.m. Lunch is served from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 5 to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Circa 59 at Riviera Palm Springs
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Price Range: $$$$
Executive Chef Jesse Souza stands before Circa 59’s collection of vintage celebrity and historic photos reflective of Riviera Palm Springs’ storied past.
Nuances of Chef Jesse Souza’s “new American” cuisine at Circa 59’s include (clockwise, from bottom) a Roquefort-crusted filet of beef with hash browns, butternut squash fondue, and cippolini onion caramelized in 12-year balsamic vinegar; Oysters “Riviera,” classically baked oysters with arugula, Sambuca, hot pepper flakes, Asiago cheese, and buttered breadcrumbs served on a bed of rock salt; and roasted sea scallops with smoked corn and maple emulsion, confit tomato, mache, and guanciale crumbs. Suggested wines are Grgich Hills Estates 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon and Nickel & Nickel Medina Vineyards 2010 Chardonnay from the Russian River.
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