When they thought about creating an elevated outside dining experience at the Kimpton The Rowan Hotel Palm Springs, executive chef Dan Grunbeck and his staff took it literally.
“We have this beautiful space on top of the hotel and we’re thinking, ‘Why don't we turn that into a restaurant?’ “ says Grunbeck. “So we transform a pool area with lounge chairs into a fine-dining restaurant. It's absolutely beautiful up there after dark, and we've got lights that go over the patio. It really makes it like a really cool oasis.”
The coronavirus pandemic has been a severely challenging time for Coachella Valley restaurants with dining restricted to the outdoors at this point. The rooftop not only offered some of the best built-in views of downtown Palm Springs and beyond, but also a space big enough to create a sense of security when it came to social distancing diners from one another.
Starting last week, The Rowan has begun offering a weekly “Dinner Under the Stars” dining experience on Wednesday evenings for both hotel guests and locals. Grunbeck says the space, which is situated at the north end of the rooftop area where High Bar is, can accommodate 75 to 80 guests.
“The tables are really, really nicely spread out, more than six feet,” Grunbeck says. “So, it feels really safe, which I like. Because personally, when I go out, I make sure that there's plenty of space.”
Since The Rowan’s reopening in June, the rooftop space has been off limits to anyone who is not an overnight guest of the hotel (including High Bar). 4 Saints, normally The Rowan’s rooftop restaurant offering, has been closed since the shutdown in March.
"Dinner Under the Stars" on Wednesday evenings is the only time non-hotel guests have access to the roof. Unless they booked a stay at The Rowan, local diners haven’t been able to access the rooftop since the hotel’s shutdown in March.
To make the most of this opportunity, Grunbeck has created a menu that will feature items you would normally enjoy if 4 Saints were open. Grunbeck joined The Rowan in January from Brush Creek Ranch, a luxury five-star experience in Saratoga, Wyoming. That experience taught him the value of good vendors, which is why he reaches out to places like Double R Ranch in Washington for choice Angus beef.
“I think everybody... I'm over the take out and everything,” Grunbeck says. “Like actually get out and have a nice meal somewhere, that has good service, that has a good glass of wine or a mixed cocktail. It's really something that people haven't seen for so long, right?”
The three-course, pre-fixe menu offers three entree choices - the opening night included Palisades Free Range Chicken, Vandouvan Encreusted Ahi Tuna, and Cast Seared Beef Strip Loin. Grunbeck says there is a vegetarian menu as well.
“For $48, the portion size is nice,” Grunbeck says. “So, you don't get too full and you can actually eat all of the courses."
Butternut Squash Bisque with charred house marshmallow and crispy sauce was the appetizer for the opening night of "Dinner Under the Stars".
"And then this coming week, there are some add-on's that they could buy, like a seafood tower for two or four people," he adds. "They can enhance their steak with a crab option, a poached crab option, or a truffle butter or a main lobster tail. So, there are some options to even elevate it more if the guest chooses to do so.”
"Dinner Under the Stars", 6 p.m. Wednesdays through the end of the year at Kimpton The Rowan Palm Springs, 100 WS. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs. To make a reservation visit opentable.com and search for 4Saints.