Described by many as the Mastro’s of seafood, and just like Mastro’s, Eddie V’s is a national brand. Parent company, Darden, has many others, including Olive Garden and Yard House, but Eddie V’s is its flagship high-end restaurant. The Palm Desert addition on the corner of El Paseo and Palms to Pines ticked the number up to 23 in the chain.
At 6,000 square feet, the space is on the smaller end of many Eddie V’s, but the right size for Palm Desert.
There’s an outdoor front dining patio, twinning each side of the entrance leading into their well-appointed interior, which also splits into two distinct spaces on either side of the floor-to-ceiling glass wine cellar. It holds more than 400 selections.
To the right is an impressive bar topped with art that resembles a lobster trap, the rest of it in rich wood tones accompanied by textiles in cream and blueish gray. Above, lanterns seem to float above the ample seating that accommodates daily happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m.
Just outside is a sensational oversized, yet cozy, firepit for sipping cocktails while listening to the jazz band that starts at 6:30 p.m., as well as tables for dining al fresco.
Back inside in the main dining area on the other side of the wine cellar, there are booths, four tops, and rounds that seat larger parties. All feature crisp, white linens and cushy seats and are lighted by chandeliers.
In another life, Eddie V’s was a bank, and one of the three private dining areas is an homage to its past. The Vault seats 16-20 and has a fully operational audio/visual and sound system for business meetings, or just for bringing in your own playlist for a special occasion.
There’s also The Speakeasy, which seats 8 to 10, and is perfect for a medium-sized party for birthdays or graduations.
If you prefer a nook, there’s the Oasis room containing two booths set back-to- back. Executive Chef Kevin Favinger says they are very popular and a great spot for those that prefer quieter dining.
Born in Philadelphia, Favinger credits his grandmother with his introduction to cooking. His grandparents were “south-Philly Italians” and his mom was a chemistry teacher, which is how he became a science geek.
Starting with the appetizer menu, there are six options for East and West coast oysters, three different types of caviar, lobster tacos, ahi and steak tartare, as well as Maryland crab cakes, a signature dish for Eddie V’s. For a shared experience there’s a Lobster Pot consisting of one pound of roasted South African lobster tails with garlic, heirloom tomatoes, and fresh herbs; a shellfish tower of Maine lobster, shrimp, oysters and jumbo lump crab; or the Big Eddie: king crab legs, Maine lobsters, ahi tuna poke, shrimp, and oysters.
For second courses, there are five options for soup and salad, leading into the main event, a wide variety of mouthwatering seafood choices including Georges Bank scallops, parmesan crusted sole, Norwegian salmon, branzino, and ahi tuna.
Because Favinger has spent a good deal of his career carving and cooking steak, you can always count on an exceptional cut of beef which you can upgrade to a surf and turf with scallops or king crab legs.
Indulge with the 18-ouce New York Strip steak.
Even the sides are not your garden variety. Yes, there’s a classic asparagus dish, and other delectable veggies, but there are also butter-poached lobster mashed potatoes, truffled macaroni and cheese, and crab fried rice.
Just coming for happy hour? Craft cocktails, fine wine, and beer are not the only things on the menu. There are lamb lollipops, fish tacos, prime filet sliders with blue cheese, and four different styles of oysters to enjoy.
Although the brand has the same menu throughout the country, Favinger gets to flex his creative muscles when it comes to amuse-bouches or a nice dessert, seafood or steak feature. “They give us a very long leash,” he says.
Favinger is as stoked about delivering a consistent fine dining experience as he is about delivering what he terms a “yes environment.” “Our culture is based on indulgence. We want every guest to come in and feel like a VIP. I had someone last night that asked for a twice-baked potato. It was his birthday. He didn’t push for it, so we surprised him. That’s what we want to do to make people feel special and feel like they’re just not just another diner. You’re not just paying for food, you’re paying for an experience, you’re paying for hospitality, you’re paying for memories. All those things together.”
EDDIE V’S PRIME SEAFOOD
Eddie V’s is a fine dining restaurant known for seafood, prime cuts of beef, with a posh happy hour and live jazz seven days a week.
LOCATION: 73040 El Paseo , Palm Desert, 760-340-9455; eddiev.com
RECOMMENDED DISHES: Yellowtail sashimi, oysters (many styles including raw), butterfish, bone-in rib-eye. Add an enhancement of Parmesan and Horseradish Crust, Cave-Aged Blue Cheese Crust, Tarragon Béarnaise, Cognac Peppercorn Crème, or Classic Hollandaise.
HOURS: 7 days a week, from 4-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 4-11 p.m. Friday/Saturday, 4-9 p.m. Sunday.
PRICES: mains range from $30 (gnocchi) to around $100 (lobster tails). All are a la carte. Sides range from $11-19. Caviar runs from high $40s up to a trio of all three kinds for $169. Seconds are $12-15, and appetizers $12-20.