Restaurateur Willie Rhine serves afternoon tea on Sundays at Willie’s Modern Fare.

Sunday Afternoon Tea at Willie’s Modern Fare in Rancho Mirage

Willie Rhine brings a touch of British tradition to his namesake Rancho Mirage restaurant.

Jessica Ritz Restaurants

Restaurateur Willie Rhine serves afternoon tea on Sundays at Willie’s Modern Fare.

Restaurateur Willie Rhine hosts high tea on Sunday afternoons at Willie’s Modern Fare.

Thoughts of Greater Palm Springs may conjure images of revelers toasting the good life over icy martinis, but restaurateur Willie Rhine is ready to change that. At Willie’s Modern Fare in Rancho Mirage, Rhine brings his own British panache to Sunday afternoon tea service. A variety of Harney & Sons tea blends complement a traditional menu of finger sandwiches made with smoked salmon, egg, and chicken salad and fresh scones served with housemade strawberry jam and clotted cream.

As if the thought of high tea wasn’t enticement enough, Rhine — who also owns Palm Springs hot spots Eight4Nine and 1501 Uptown Gastropub — teamed up with a former interior designer turned baker to orchestrate a sweet and memorable finish. Yamir Pérez of Cake & Cakes whips up unique confections such as guava-cream-filled mini pies, mousse in the shape of green apples, sugar cookies with pistachio cream, and vanilla-glazed salted blondies.

Here, Rhine dishes on his exceptional Sunday service. 

Guests can enjoy a variety of tea and bites.
Guests can enjoy a variety of tea and bites.
What inspired you to launch a traditional tea service?

The reason for introducing tea at Willie’s Modern Fare lies in the intention to offer a distinctive and refined dining experience to our guests. Afternoon tea is a customary practice in the U.K., where I come from. It’s something that I have been keen on doing for many years, and I finally decided that Rancho Mirage would be an ideal place to do it.

How do you like to set the table?

The accoutrements and tableware play a significant role in the high tea experience. Every Sunday, the team at Willie’s Modern Fare brings out the fine china, teacups, and three-tiered stands for finger sandwiches and pastries. We use white tablecloths, which is the perfect canvas for the china and food. The choice of tableware and the food collectively create a visually appealing and inviting atmosphere for guests.

We hear you like to travel. What are the best places for experiencing teatime around the world?

The Ritz in London, The Caledonian Hotel in Edinburgh, The Peninsula in Bangkok, and, of course, Willie’s in Rancho Mirage.