TINTO PALM SPRINGS
Has anyone been? How is the hotel Saguaro where the restaurant resides?
The Hotel: I spent this past weekend at the Saguaro in Palm Springs. We arrived at the hotel at about 8:00 p.m. and ate a late dinner at Tinto, Chef Garces' Basque style restaurant. We were greeted pleasantly at reception and given our keys to the room very promptly. I had booked our room through Jetsetter, so I was very curious as to whether we were going to get the "undesirable" or "discount" room, as you sometimes do when booking through external websites. When we arrived to the room, it was nice enough. They did a good job sprucing up what used to be a Holiday Inn (I think), but keeping the original facility, you can only do so much. The rooms were colorfully decorated and the bed was comfortable, but the bathroom was your typical Holiday Inn, small shower, single sink, fan connected with light switch facility. This isn't really a dealbreaker, although I do love a nice bathroom; I'm just trying to illustrate how the hotel was remodeled, but not necessarily redone.
Flash forward to the next morning... when you wake up to the stunning view of the pool backed by picturesque mountains, memories of the underwhelming bathroom faded and I turned a blind eye to the chipping paint at the bottom of the walls :-) Maybe I just don't get out to the desert enough, but I thought the view was stunning. We enjoyed some pool time on Saturday. Most of the chairs were taken or reserved with towels, so we had to search, but luckily we found two together and were able to wheel an umbrella over to provide some respite from the sun. The pool scene was fun; not too sceney.
Also, this might be a pro for some people and a con for others, but the hotel is dog friendly at no additional expense. If you have a pet (we do), this is a really nice value, as most places charge an additional "deposit" (is it a deposit when you don't get it back, under any circumstances? No, right?). Also, there is an hourly complimentary shuttle downtown that really makes up for the fact that the hotel is a ways away from downtown. I think there are plenty of nice amenities that make up for the some of the less desirable aspects of the facility.
The food: The night we arrived, the staff at Tinto had pushed back our reservation twice for us (stuck in horrible traffic), with no problems. We were starving by the time we sat down for dinner at 9:00 p.m. We understood that the restaurant is tapas style, and three plates/person is generally recommended. After eating there, I agree that this is a good amount of food. Because we were so hungry, we went with the chef's tasing menu. Its $55/person and you receive 10 plates total, but its more realistic to think about it as $110 for 10 courses (still very reasonable, IMO) since you cannot order the tasting menu individually and the portions are not doubled because two people order the tasting menu. Anyway, back to the food. We had a fantastic experience at Tinto, which seems to have gotten mixed reviews. The first course consisted of very hearty portions of mixto cheese (manchego, blue, and one other), charcuterie (four types of meat, didn't catch exactly which ones) and olives. We really enjoyed this course- very nice variety.
In the second course, we enjoyed the (1) chicken brochettes, with the the truffle jus creating a very "homey" flavor; (2) duck canapes, which my boyfriend described as Thanksgiving dinner in one bite (I agreed!); and (3) moules basquaise which was very tasty in a rich tomato, chorizo broth. These came with (sweet potato?) fries in a lemon dipping aioli. I prefer to eat mussels with bread to soak up the sauce, but I understand the play on moules-frites.
After this course was cleared, a plate of green beans came out, by themselves. They were nicely cooked, but it was not really a dish that stands on its own, so I wish it had come out with other plates. Following the green beans, out came the sea bass which has easily our favorite dish. The fish was perfectly cooked so that it was moist and crispy at the same time. In fact, we liked this plate so much that, as I sit here, I can't for the life of me remember the final plate. The menu is not jogging my memory, either. Sorry!
Our final plate was flourless chocolate cake with passion fruit ice cream. This dish was made for my boyfriend and I, as I love chocolate and he usually goes for fruit or sorbet for dessert. Well, this was really the best of both worlds and while I'm not 100% sold that the two were a slam dunk together, individually they were outstanding and we were both very pleased... and incredibly full. If you feel brave enough to order for yourself, three dishes each seems like it would be plenty. Overall, we really enjoyed our dinner, the service, and the experience as a whole. We had drinks at El Jefe the next night and found it very enjoyable- our Palomas were delicious and reasonably priced, the bartenders were pleasant and gave us great restaurant recommendations for dinner downtown. Overall, there seems to be a disconnect between the quality of the amenities/service vs. the quality the facility itself, so if the facility itself is very important to your enjoying your trip, then maybe look elsewhere. On the other hand, if the service is consistently as good as that which we experienced, its a nice addition to Palm Springs.
We are traveling to the Palm Springs area over Memorial Day weekend and have been to the area several times. I have booked Tinto for a first time visit. Was wondering how do you compare Tinto to some of our favorites in then Palm Springs area: Copely's, Jillians', Shame on the Moon, Corktree. Also any other restaurants (preferably in Rancho Mirage, Laquinta, Palm Desert, Indian Wells area) that you would recommend?