The iconic El Paseo building on Palm Canyon Drive is now home to Palm Springs’ freshest farm-to-table dining experience.
Body: Local flavors make a splash on the desert’s dining scene once again with the recent opening of Workshop Kitchen + Bar, a new farm-to-table restaurant in Uptown Palm Springs.
The highly-anticipated restaurant, which opened Sept. 26, comes complements of chefs Michael Beckman and Joseph Mourani, culinary classmates who teamed up to create the freshest dining experience in Palm Springs.
“Palm Springs is ready for a dining destination that offers a well-constructed food and beverage experience in a fun setting,” Beckman said.
Beckman, whose culinary credits include the Ritz Carlton in Berlin and the Michelin-starred Lameloise in Burgundy, and Mourani, who has built successful restaurants in Beirut, wanted to create a restaurant as fun and sophisticated as the city of Palm Springs, itself.
“Our approach to everything at Workshop, from the interior design to the food and cocktail program, is based on playful creativity,” Beckman said.
Housed in the historic El Paseo Building, 800 North Palm Canyon Drive, the Spanish eclectic architecture embodies early Palm Springs.
The inside, however, is dominated by clean cuts of concrete and a monochromatic grey palette. The industrial design is simplistically chic but not without purpose: Beckman wanted the colorful dishes and lively conversation to be the focus of the Workshop experience.
“It was really important to keep it simple,” Beckman said. “Because the design is so sleek, I wanted the plates to be the relief.”
The Workshop experience can be many things, he says: an intimate lunch in a private booth, an al fresco affair on the patio, an opportunity to meet new friends at the community-style table or a small party in the private dining room.
Likewise, Workshop’s menu offers creative flavor combinations to appeal to all guests. Beckman’s take on American contemporary cuisine is heavily influenced by both his culinary experience as a private chef and the seasonal ingredients from local farms. Beckman works roughly a dozen local farms, many within an hour of the Coachella Valley, to provide his produce.
The result is a carefully crafted menu with unique dishes, like octopus capaccio and lamb and fennel-pollen sausage wood-fired pizza.
For a more social experience, guests can order large format dishes like whole grilled chicken diavolo or bone-in rib-eye.
Taking the farm-to-table concept a step farther, Workshop’s Sunday brunches come with an outdoor farmer’s market. The same farms that provide Workshop with its seasonal ingredients will be on-hand selling seasonal produce.
The bar menu flawlessly complements the restaurant’s concept by infusing local and seasonal ingredients to create a cocktail experience with several layers of flavor. The Georgia Buck, for one, combines house-made ginger beer, fresh lemon juice and bourbon infused with Hemet peaches to create a refreshing flavor contrast.
Bar manager Rene Dominguez draws on both classic and contemporary American cocktails as inspiration for Workshop’s cocktail menu. Like the restaurant menu, the list of libations will evolve every few weeks to feature seasonal and house-made ingredients.
“I really feel that a cocktail should have balance,” Dominguez said, “and that’s what we strive for.”
To fit Workshop’s communal atmosphere, drinks like the Bombay Government Punch, which includes Jamaican rum, cognac, grapefruit oil and green tea, can serve between 4 to 12 people.
Dominguez plans to keep the bar experience approachable with future cocktail competitions, spirit tastings and other educational events.
He works confident that Workshop will thrive in the desert – something he’s not sure would have worked a few years ago.
“Now, I think Palm Springs is ready,” Dominguez said.