Coachella 2011: Kanye West, with a dash of creme fraiche
OK, so the headline is an exaggeration. For one, there is no indication that Kanye West will perform tonight with crème fraîche, and for that matter, it's not even on the menu at Coachella's fine-dining restaurant. Finally, one can't even see the main stage from the upscale spot, as that's near the Sahara dance tent.
But wait, Coachella has a fine dining restaurant?
New for 2011 is a cozy, multitiered dining space in the rose garden, with semiprivate tables and cushy, round couches -- the kind you see in a fashionable hotel lobby. Before 5 p.m., anyone -- well, anyone who paid extra for a VIP wristband, that is -- could waltz in and have one of Shane McKnight's designer cocktails, which were priced at $14 each. And with Heineken running at $9, that's a relative bargain for a decent alcoholic beverage.
"My stuff is produce driven and atmosphere driven," McKnight said. Among his creations were a lavender cucumber lemonade, which McKnight said was the fest's most popular designer beverage. "It's designed to create a spa-like atmosphere," he said.
For something with a bit more kick -- perhaps, say, for your wild & crazy raver side, which you can pretend you have as you sip your drink as you watch the common folk dance -- guests can go for the gingersnap mojito. "People say gingersnap, and start instantly having fun with it," said McKnight. "Snap!"
The restaurant is being run by Hollywood's Music Box, which features chef creations such as an Asian-style beef tenderloin platter ($32) and grilled Vietnamese shrimp rolls ($28). Once the clock strikes 5 p.m., the spot becomes reservation only. This is a bottle-service joint, so come ready to drop $500 on a bottle of gin for a booth.
It all came together just two weeks ago, said David Aragon, one of the restaurant's on-site event managers, and he promises improvements for 2012. I really only had one question for him, though. If the restaurant is maintained by Hollywood's Music Box, a club that's connected to L.A. beer mecca Blue Palms, why can't someone get a decent pint here? A bottle of Telegraph's California Ale would go nice in the setting sun, for instance.
"You want beer?" questioned Aragon. "We don't have any beer."
-- Todd Martens
Photo: Coachella's fine-dining restaurant as Sunday was just starting. Credit: Todd Martens / Los Angeles Times