You might be familiar with the Ace Hotel & Swim Club in South Palm Springs, but the first thing that comes to mind is probably not their herb garden.
In fact, chances are you didn’t even know they had an herb garden.
But if you’ve eaten at their restaurant, King’s Highway, you’ve been the beneficiary of that garden in more ways than one.
“We toss a fair amount of herbs into our mixed green salad,” says Executive Chef Brian Kiepler (pictured below), “including tarragon, chives, and basil. It’s not a huge garden, but we use herbs in a variety of ways such as in our sauces, rosemary and thyme to marinate meats, mint on desserts, and for garnishes.”
Kiepler was born and raised in Los Angeles, and some of his earliest culinary influences were his mother and his grandmother. After graduating from the Southern California School of Culinary Arts in Pasadena, he worked at Joachim Splichal’s Pinot restaurants and later became executive chef of the Patina Group’s restaurant at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and its steakhouse, Nick and Stef’s.
“I think everything comes in to play when you’re designing a menu,” says Kiepler. “From your childhood, to something your grandmother taught you, to something one of your chefs taught you while you were coming up in the restaurant industry.”
“It all plays a little part in what I do now so there’s influences everywhere on the King’s Highway menu,” he says. “You obviously have to follow the guidelines of wherever you’re at, and I try to do that as much as possible while being creative and working with the kinds of food and products that I enjoy.”
Some of those foods include the ones in the restaurant’s popular raw kale and quinoa salad, which has Marcona almonds, Medjool dates, cranberries, and caramelized onion in a hibiscus vinaigrette.
Kiepler says the fish tacos are also a big seller.
“It’s a great, refreshing dish,” he says. “We use Alaskan cod, which is a very flaky white fish, and the presentation is really nice with salsa ranchera, avocado, crema fresca, and radishes. (My tacos came topped with watermelon radishes that were so pretty I wanted to put them aside and take them home with me.)
“Also, our fried avocado with pickled onions and green goddess dressing is off the hook,” adds Kiepler. “A lot of people are very interested in ordering it, probably because it sounds slightly odd. But it’s really delicious.”
And that’s just a taste of the varied menu at King’s Highway, which also includes breakfast items like a brioche French toast with softened strawberries, Vermont maple syrup, and a bit of Nutella.
So check this place out. You might just discover your new favorite garden oasis right here in the middle of the desert.
Ace Hotel & Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, (760) 325-9900