cava noche

Small Plates, Big Flavors

The Marriott Renaissance recently refreshed, renovated, and reclaimed their old name, Renaissance Esmeralda while also adding an upscale restaurant called Cava Noche that kicks up the tapas game.

Kay Kudukis Current Digital, Restaurants

cava noche
Put these on your must-try list at Cava Noche (from left, clockwise): Harissa Cauliflower on the blue plate, Cara and Beet Salad, Ropa Vieja, Fried Yucca, Seared Scallops, Pork Rillette in the middle, and Aji Amarillo Tiradito.

To be treated to the lifestyles of the rich and famous, one need go no further than the recently renovated Renaissance Esmeralda Resort and Spa.

“We put $25 million into it,” said Erik Nygren, director of food and beverage. “Our positioning is tasteful Mediterranean summer home.” Its 23 acres of lush Mediterranean-inspired grounds feature gardens; waterfalls, and surrounding lakes; and its newly planted olive grove.

Once inside, one of the most remarkable and boldest feature, is the grand, Cinderella-style staircase that’s split in two at the top by a waterfall, each side elegantly arcing out until they meet once again at the bottom. It’s squeal worthy.


The lobby has bright white walls; warm woods; pops of greens and golds; rich textiles in reds and creamy browns; and splashes of blue from the vibrant mermaid tiles of the waterfall.

The view from the lobby is, in itself, pretty dramatic. The bright white walls; warm woods; pops of greens and golds; rich textiles in reds and creamy browns; and splashes of blue from the vibrant mermaid tiles of the waterfall. The rest is all sharp angles and sultry curves that add to the pockets of drama.

The brand new lobby bar is called The Place; its sophisticated yet cheery look greets with open arms, and the drink menu features splashy craft cocktails, some with flaming rosemary, and friendly, expert bartenders. Nibbles are also available.

Don’t linger too long or nibble too much though, because outside is where Cava Noche, the sexy new eatery managed by the resort’s executive chef, Eric Theiss, can be found; it’s just across the way on the other side of the romantic pier, another feature added during the recent renovation.

Cava Noche’s terrace invites with its cozy fires, cushy seating, and its elegant, but relaxed vibe. Whether indoors or out, everything is softly lit but comfortable enough to read the menu’s eye-rollingly good tapas offerings.


The terrace at Cava Noche.

“There were three or four chefs that really got involved in [creating the menu] and came up with some great ideas. We whittled it down to 50,” Nygren said. “At one point, I thought, ‘that’s probably too many’. So we went down to about 20. We have two or three that are going to rotate on a nightly basis, based on what we have [in the kitchen], and what people are excited about. We’ll just make it, and when it’s gone, it’s gone.”

On the regular menu there are seafood options, like the melt-in-your-mouth salmon sashimi in a spicy citrus chili sauce or their crazy-good seared scallops. For meat lovers, skewers of tender hangar steak with dipping sauces; golden-brown Pamplona chorizo empanadas; or pork rillette: chilled pork spread with cornichons, whole grain mustard, and crostinis.

For vegetarians, harissa cauliflower, roasted with tzatziki, and toasted pine nuts; or their mushroom curry – organic wild mushrooms, spinach, crispy chickpeas, with grilled garlic naan. Or the cara and beet salad: citrus and roasted beets with avocado, roasted hazelnuts, and lavender honey vinaigrette. Not vegetarian, but a great choice for cruciferous lovers is the chorizo and brussel sprout salad: crispy, roasted brussel sprouts elevated, but not overpowered, with chorizo.

Since tapas are all about sharing, Cava Noche is a great choice for Valentine’s Day, and they are offering a $60 special that includes three shared plates from the tapas menu, a bottle of cava, and dessert. While shared plates may sound small, each dish has more than enough to satisfy two – although they’re so tasty, you may want more.

Let’s not forget, Renaissance Esmeralda is a five-star resort, so there’s the option to spend the night and enjoy breakfast the next day before luxuriating at the massive pool, lounging in their comfy chairs, while sipping mimosas and enjoying the desert sun. For even more romance, rent a cabana, or head to the spa for a couple’s massage. After that, grab some lunch at Glo Sushi bar, then a little more sun and a swim before enjoying the sunset on your way home.

Renaissance Esmeralda resort & Spa, 44400 Indian Wells Lane, Indian Wells, 760-773-444;


At the bar, try the Skinos Cosmopolis that includes vodka and skinos liquer.