Going Au Naturel at King’s Highway
Even when work prevents you from getting out of town for the summer, there’s little to complain about when your job keeps you in Palm Springs. Like many teenagers across the nation graduating high school next month, my adolescent self couldn’t run away from this place fast enough. It was only on returning years later that I realized I had run from an oasis so many people make painstaking efforts to operate for a quick retreat from daily life. It just so happens that for us lucky locals, this retreat is our daily life. As a coworker of mine used to say when asked how things were going, “It’s just another day in paradise.”
Close to downtown, there is a cafe serving up a memorable breakfast experience that has all the makings for a great start to a morning in paradise. Located near the top of The Strip, where Highway 111 turns into downtown Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs, the appropriately named King’s Highway is inside the ACE Hotel and Swim Club, one of Palm Springs’ newest and hippest hotels. “Serving fresh food for hot days,” as their website indicates, this breakfast nook provides a holistic a.m. experience certain to stir each of the five senses.
The dining room of King’s Highway is nothing if not au naturel. The walls are covered with an unpolished stone veneer. The bench seating around the perimeter walls are upholstered in smooth leather of a burnt red color, and table and counter tops only don a clear lacquer over the blonde wood they were created from. Large, unobstructed windows that let in the morning sunlight make up a good portion of the east wall and some of the west wall, while the little artificial lighting that does exist in the dining room – more for show than utility for most of the day – luminates from white orbs suspended from the ceiling by thick undyed rope. The old, original terrazzo flooring that was uncovered during the renovations of the abandoned building that was to become King’s Highway has been left exposed along with all of the imperfections it has acquired over time. There is definitely a simple, vintage feel, made all the more interesting by certain quirky elements sure to catch your sight, like the large elephant head made of natural plant fiber that hangs on one wall or the colorful stained glass depicting a giant sunny eye over one of the large windows.
As the schedule of regular events at the ACE suggests, music plays a big role in the ambience at the hotel. While waiting for my food, my ears were treated to an eclectic blend of musical tracks by Johnny Cash, Air, and the sultry sounds of bossa nova. After a worthwhile wait, breakfast was served. Its fresh flavors, vibrant appearance, and warm aromas gave away the time and effort that the kitchen puts into making as much as possible from scratch and to-order. King’s Highway’s best-selling chilaquiles – made of layers of spicy red salsa and soyrizo (homemade chorizo is also available), sour cream, scrambled eggs, homemade corn tortillas chips, and a healthy garnishing of fresh chopped green cilantro leaves – looked as beautiful as it tasted. (To be noted, the chilaquiles nuked as leftovers in the microwave later for lunch were still delicious!) The ricotta hot cakes with maple crunch butter and bananas had a fluffiness that only comes from batter made from scratch; and the spinach, roasted tomato, and feta frittata was cooked perfectly, leaving the eggs not too runny or too well done. At $12, $9, and $11, respectively, breakfast at King’s Highway is a great value for the caliber of ingredients and preparation you get.
Even though I was a single diner sitting at the counter during my first breakfast at King’s Highway, I felt at ease and never bored thanks to the décor, the music, the food, and the attentiveness of my server, Montrell. If you’re looking for something out of the ordinary for breakfast, you’ll find it at The ACE Hotel. It’s a happy place, promising great food in a cool and relaxing atmosphere that are sure to make for a sunny start to your summer days in the desert.
If You Go – King’s Highway at ACE Hotel and Swim Club, 701 East Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA 92264. 760.325.9900
Sarah Romero wants to hear your suggestions for restaurants to review. Send her a tweet at http://twitter.com/iheartdates.
(as originally published in The Bottom Line Magazine and at http://psbottomline.com/community/on-your-plate/going-au-naturel in Volume 31 Issue 20)