One of the defining features that led to the design of Palm Springs’ new restaurant Truss & Twine was the number of trusses added likely decades before to help brace the Spanish tile roof. “If you look at the design images, all of the trusses are original,” says co-owner Michael Beckman. “That played a role in design.”
The “twine” in its name refers to the culinary technique of tying a thin food-grade string that is used to truss or tie meat to prevent them falling apart while being cooked, especially for tying up meat that has been butterflied and stuffed.
With a focus on local ingredients and shareable gourmet fare, Truss & Twine serves an imaginative take on California cuisine. You’ll find an elegant yet approachable take on classic drinks with 21 cocktails to choose from. The restaurant is the latest venture from the brains behind Workshop Kitchen + Bar, where Beckman is executive chef and co-owner.
Beckman chats with Palm Springs Life about the chef-driven concept and what makes Truss & Twine so enticing to locals and visitors alike.
PSL: So how would you explain the vibe for someone who has never been to the restaurant and may be visiting from out of town?
Michael Beckman: We wanted to achieve a very lively bar feel; we didn’t want it to be clubby. Because of the chef-driven concept we wanted the food to be creative and inspired by the desert.
The behavior would be similar to a wine bar, where you can go out and eat some small plates, but, instead of wine, the focus really is the cocktails with the team of Dave [Castillo] and Michelle [Bearden] that we have on board. We created a special DJ booth to make sure [music] is a strong component, but didn’t want it to be at the center of the dining room or in the center of the bar. Some people bring in 45s and they go deep into a lot of rock ’n’ roll, R&B, new wave — I mean everything. It’s eclectic and it’s something that I think really bridges several generations.
A DJ booth creates a strong link between the restaurant and music.
PSL: What are your menu highlights?
MB: What was exciting, from the creative standpoint as a chef, was to have a menu this focused. In a full-service restaurant, you’ve got so many bases you need to cover. To be able to go in and create creative bar bites and have this short of a menu gave us the creative license to really focus on a desert aesthetic.
A lot of the chefs who have inspired me are really looking to an extremely local environment, and [really looking for] that environment [to come] through on the plates. So we started to look to our surroundings and to look at the Coachella Valley as not just a tourism destination, but also for its agriculture — to try to use that as an aesthetic on the menu in items like cactus and rabbit.
We’re very passionate about seafood [and] 100 percent comes from the Southern California region,
PSL: Tell us more about cooking with cactus!
MB: As a chef in Palm Springs, it’s hard to ignore cactus. I have some experience cooking traditional Mexican dishes with it. I kind of use that as a jumping off point, as far as playing with other ideas. We basically clean it, slice it, blanch it, and then braise it with a rich demerara syrup. It’s a nice sweet component to pair with; it’s super earthy. And you have that dish to pull in the local goat cheese as well.
The cocktail menu is subdivided into five categories: Golden Age, Prohibition, Tiki, Dark Ages, and Originals.
Queen’s Park Swizzle.
PSL: What are a few of your most popular drinks?
MB: The [cocktail] menu [is subdivided into five categories:] Golden Age, Prohibition, Tiki, Dark Ages, and Originals. The No. 1 best-selling cocktail is our Game Changer, which Dave came up with. He refers to it as the savory cocktail — there’s a pinch of salt, onion brine, and celery bitters in it. And cucumbers [and] a little bit of lime juice. It’s bright and refreshing — and salivating.
The 3 Dots and a Dash has probably been the most popular of the Tiki group. And the Green Philter, [one of our Originals], is [made with] Pernod absinthe, Orgeat, which is an almond syrup that’s blended with beautiful things like rose water and orange-blossom water, and some other spices.
PSL: What other kinds of interesting food trends are you experimenting with?
MB: People love our approach to rabbit. There are so many different techniques to prepare it. My first experience cooking rabbit was in France and we would always marinate it and then roast it. We tried that, and then we also tried curing in salt and spices and braising it in duck fat as a confit technique. We found that [preparation] to be rich, beautiful, and succulent. Rabbit’s a little bit tricky; it’s easy to dry out. But if you don’t cook it enough, it’s still tough. So you’ve got to find the sweet spot to get it moist.
Red Snapper Crudo with golden beet, pink peppercorn, and shiso pesto.
On top of the local goat cheese, honey, and cactus dish, the marinated olives speak very much to the spirit of the menu because the Coachella Valley is known as an olive-growing region. We marinate those with lemon and orange peels, which is very Spanish inspired, but it’s also something that the Coachella Valley has a lot of — fresh citrus.
Truss & Twine, 800 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-459-3451; trussandtwine.com