We hadn’t had the chance to check out the Cliffhouse in La Quinta, perched on historic Point Happy, since it was recently taken over by Pacifica, the fabulous seafood restaurant and bar at The Gardens in Palm Desert. Pacifica is a class act and I could only imagine that the Cliffhouse would benefit by its new management. I had heard that the valet parking is a little dicey . . . and I must admit that I experienced that firsthand on Saturday. The energy of the valet team is a little aggressive and not welcoming – as they seem to cater to those driving Ferraris as opposed to regular “middle class” cars. BUT, once we climbed the stairs that meander next to the rock boulders and refreshing waterfall, we had regained our sense of good spirit and were delighted with what was to follow.
The Cliffhouse has a comfortable and earthy ambiance, that of a historic ranch house, offering magnificent mountain views from the indoor bar and dining area, an outdoor dining alcove carved into the adjacent granite mountain- complete with a flowing waterfall and a massive stone fireplace.
We met our friends at the Cactus Grill indoors and the atmosphere was festive and upbeat. The bar menu bears resemblance to the old Cliffhouse one, with a few subtle changes here and there. It feels a little more upscale, but prices are still affordable. The service was good, the Pinot Grigio I selected from the Happy Hour list was delightful and my simple order of a Wedge salad was executed perfectly. It was served at room temperature and everything was sumptuous and fresh. My friends offered up tastings of their French Fries and the yummy dishes they had ordered. We were all pleased as punch and very happy with our “new” Cliffhouse experience.
Hopefully, the valet parking situation will be resolved over time – there is no more park your own car, you must valet park. I have no beef with that, but the parking dudes could stand to take some lessons in customer service and proper valet etiquette. I won’t let that stop me from returning to the Cliffhouse for another delightful repast . . . and the sooner the better.
Living in La Quinta just keeps getting better and better !