What can be more comforting than having a savoury crêpe on a country-chic flower decked patio that makes you feel like you’re in Provence, France? Even though the secluded setting is located behind retail shops in “La Plaza” a Spanish style center off Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs.
Farm serves locally sourced, French & Spanish-inspired fare. It was built in the 1930’s as studio residences to house local workers.
The waiter told me Farm restaurant comes with a story…and I always love a good story. Along with a white picket fence.
Liz Ostoich, owner of Farm Restaurant, told us that La Plaza was developed by the wealthy Julia Carnell, of the National Cash Register Company. The story goes that she was friends with Palm Springs pioneer Nellie Coffman, who built the Desert Inn and invited Carnell to visit.
Apparently Carnell loved the village, but lamented that shopping, entertainment and dining was too spread out. So she built La Plaza in the center of town that encompassed not only shops, a theater, probably a restaurant, but also housing for those working in the shops. Automobiles could park in the cobble-stone plaza near the shops; La Plaza was actually the first “strip mall” in California, if not the country.
“The idea of combined residential and retail units [is] not new,” said Ostoich. “Carnell built the plaza for $2 million, which during the Depression was a lot of money.”
For Ostoich, travels in the south of France gave her an appreciation for farm-fresh cuisine and French country living. La Plaza’s human-scale Spanish architecture is reminiscent of European country sides where hand-built farmhouses seem to spring from the ground like the plants around them.
A white picket fence and gate encloses Farm’s outdoor garden dining areas and a worn pavement path leads to the patio covered by a tangle of vines and bougainvillea. The patio bisects two adjoining bungalows on either side; two are the dining rooms, two are now the kitchen.
Did I mention they’re dog friendly?
As the kitchen is small without a microwave or freezer, Ostoich’s Provencal-style breakfast and lunch menu is simple but flexible, based on artisanal meats, local produce and organic eggs. Dishes are made to order with great attention to detail.
6 Plaza, Palm Springs (760) 322-2724 www.farmpalmsprings.com
Source for story: Pamela Bieri “The Desert Sun”
Photos: d. king