Gabriela Oliva, the bright, accommodating restaurateur who spiced up Circa 59 at Riviera Palm Springs and Europa restaurant at Villa Royale Inn, has given La Plaza in downtown Palm Springs a taste of the French countryside. Her new café, Farm, serves up fresh-fare crepes and an “I’ll take my tea into the garden” vibe. Her unmarked location has garnered a loyal following solely by word, but remains almost invisible to tourists. Oliva brings in “pop-up” chefs, serves handcrafted cocktails, and has a knack for building community. She invites you join her.
What is Farm’s philosophy?
The philosophy I take on business, and anything I work on with my team, is grow it organically, educate, and touch the core of people (our guest). At Farm, respectfully declining menu alterations on food is about earning your trust with the flavor and tradition of dishes. Being seated at a table in a new place in town is an opportunity to absorb [its] concept or traditions.
How exactly do pop-up guest chefs work?
I don’t like being bored with a standard menu. That’s why I love pop-ups; they keep dining fresh. Alternating chefs come in from the outside and basically take over your restaurant with a concept, flavor, and presentation all their own. We need to keep you happy, invigorated, and hopeful for the next dinner.
If this were your last supper, what would you be eating?
Funny. I love food. I eat anything and everything. Yet, charcuterie and cheese are my weakness.
I am an addict of small plates and great wine, which prompted the mid-week 5-to-8 “Fun Time,” where we’ll offer French tapas and plenty of Bordeaux. We live once. Eat!
What are some of your favorite details in the restaurant?
The three private dining rooms each have their own personality. My favorite details would be the harvest tables that were trucked from the Midwest, the metal star hanging in one of the private rooms from an old Amish barn in Pennsylvania, and our Laguiole table knives. Sure, you will see a chicken feeder here and there, but Farm’s details are really just about being comfortable in a vintage setting.
Why the limited hours?
I believe in a quality of life for my team and about keeping the Palm Springs lifestyle consistent. This city is known for healing and relieving stress, so we like to preserve that history and its integrity.
What are some of your favorite things to do with your free time?
I love flying; I am a student pilot. I am also a volunteer with Animal Samaritans and I advocate mentoring the young. They need direction and guidance, and we all have a service to lead them in one way or another. The rewards are priceless.
What would your best friend tell me about you?
That I’m passionate, I have an intense drive to progress, and I take pride in seeing others go above and beyond and create their own future. My best friend and I will both tell you that we all leave a footprint on our community. So remember, we are human first.
Photography: J. Everette Perry.
Makeup artist: Dawn Haley.
Hair stylist: Francesca Ferrigno.
Dress: Roberto Cavalli.
Location: Villa Royale Inn.