Organic Decadence at Daniel’s Table
A Desert Health Review
As you walk into Daniel’s Table you are greeted by the chef at work and his friendly staff. A full glass front entry allows natural light to flow into the open floor design with intimate dining tables and a long counter facing the open kitchen which Chef Daniel Villanueva refers to as the Chef’s Table.
Here guests can enjoy smaller plates or meze, which in Mediterranean countries means appetizer, while interacting with Daniel and his personable servers. It was the inspiration for changing the restaurant’s name from Beyond Balisage, a play on his former Palm Springs restaurant, to Daniel’s Table.
My husband and I recently went for dinner and decided to join a group at the Chef’s Table who were enjoying the specials offered as part of the Cathedral City Art Walk. The upbeat jazz in the background, view of the open flame and smell of fruit tree wood from the kitchen drew us in.
We had heard that Daniel’s Table was the newest organic restaurant in the valley and were eager to check it out. We prefer to eat clean, and the growing number of conscious restaurants locally is wonderfully welcomed.
Daniel’s Table did not disappoint – especially on flavor. Each dish combined unique ingredients creating tantalizing – even decadent – tastes. Daniel uses healthy enhancements like dates, honey, garlic and lemon to complement and boost the flavors of each dish.
We started with the grilled dates stuffed with Spanish goat cheese and topped with a rosewater fruit reduction, and the fig flatbread with feta cheese pesto, field greens, Manchego cheese and herbs. Both were exceptional, however, I recommend starting with one or the other as they were, together, a bit rich.
We then enjoyed the chicken and egg, a unique tower of very moist chicken breast seasoned with cumin, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, honey and almonds, and topped with a farm fresh egg (flavorful food as medicine!). We then had the meze special, a grilled scallop with local date sauce and a touch of labneh. The scallop was very tender, and the sweetness of the date was well balanced with the tangy yogurt cream.
We continued to explore the medley of flavors with a couple more meze paired with a white Italian Civitas Pecorino wine. Our server, Bruce, offered samples to help us decide as all wines are organic and imported.
If trying a variety of dishes, plan to stay a while and enjoy the ambiance as Chef puts his personal touch on each dish and is very particular about quality and integrity.
“My goal is to provide the purest and best cuisine I possibly can dish by dish,” he says adding that inspiration for his bountiful flavors comes from his grandmothers of Spanish, German and Native American heritage, as well as his vast career in the industry which he calls his “restaurant-tour.”
“For me, the cuisine is about the people,” he says. “I worked with a variety of cultures and picked up what I wanted to learn, choosing the restaurants at which I worked based on the cuisine.” He always targeted fine dining which is demonstrated at this new establishment.
Daniel’s focus on organic came years later when people started asking the origin of his ingredients. “That’s when I started asking myself those questions and many hidden memories came back from childhood – watching my grandmother making trips to the garden as she cooked; living in Europe and the aromas of culturally diverse restaurants; trying escargot and pâté for the first time.” It further ignited his passion and purpose.
When he moved to the desert, he was approached by our local farmer’s market and it all came together perfectly. The result is a warm, friendly and flavorful restaurant offering clean cuisine for those who care about they eat.
Daniel’s Table is open Tuesday – Saturday from 5p.m.-10p.m. and located at 68327 E. Palm Canyon Drive in Cathedral City. Entrees range from $35-$45 with small plates ($10-$15) available at the Chef’s Table. Reservations are strongly recommended.
(760) 699.8536. www.DanielsTable.com.