French Cuisine Meets Southern Comfort at Cuistot in Palm Desert
Written By: Jacqueline Smith
Photographed By: Melissa Bandli Cuistot Palm Desert
This visit takes us to the vision-made-reality by Chef Bernard Dervieux at his French restaurant, Cuistot. You’ll receive a delectable tour of his Maine Lobster Pot Pie dish, a creamy fusion of French cuisine and Southern comforts. The unusual winter has detoured the painted lady butterfly migration path and they greet customers as they enter the warm eatery, which was modeled after a French farmhouse. The main reason behind this ambiance comes from lauded Chef Dervieux and his French roots. According to the chef, his successful Palm Desert enterprise was inspired by his upbringing in the countryside which was full of meals made from seasonal ingredients straight from the garden or farm.
The Maine Lobster Pot Pie dish has a medley of fresh (primarily root) vegetables, is covered with flaky, delicious homemade puff pastry and is chock-full of the star of the dish: lobster. When first laying eyes on this scrumptious cloud of puff, you notice the toasted pastry overflowing the serving pie dish. Once you dig in and taste the chunks of lobster followed by bites of carrots, peas and turnip, you’ll be grateful to know that you won’t have to worry about eating for another day or two after this. It’s hearty, flavorful and oh-so-satisfying.
When asked what encouraged the creation of his Maine Lobster Pot Pie, Chef Dervieux responded with the fact that he wanted to put a spin on the classic comfort food. Along with that, he wanted to make sure the freshest ingredients were used. For this, he gathers much of Cuistot’s top-quality vegetables from local growing operations including Chino and the Coachella Valley, some of which have booths at the farmers market that takes place weekly right next to Cuistot. “We are very lucky that way,” Chef Dervieux noted.
Cuistot is primarily situated at the mouth of El Paseo off of Highway 111 in Palm Desert. It was a vacant, 12-acre piece when Chef Dervieux broke ground there in 2003. Previously, Cuistot had been in a smaller location on El Paseo since it opened in 1987. The current restaurant incorporates three separate indoor dining areas and two outdoor areas. You walk into the central dining space called Chef Bernard’s Room, a richly colored space dotted by white-clothed tables and a front row seat to what’s cooking in the exhibition kitchen.
The main dining area, called The Fireplace Room, welcomes you with the option of intimate booth seating, massive wood beam supports above and the focal point: a floor-to-ceiling fireplace surrounded with sentimental artifacts that include portraits of Chef Dervieux’s family. This is truly an inviting space.
Should you be so lucky to visit Cuistot on a refreshing spring afternoon or evening, you may want to take advantage of the outdoor patio area. Surrounded by swaying palm trees that buffer diners from outside distractions and serenaded by the sound of flowing waterfalls and authentic French harmonies, this outdoor setting is a calming respite. Additionally, there is a heated patio outside of the opulent, marble bar top and a private Wine Room for intimate parties of 48 or less. Speaking of wine, the extensive wine list includes a heavy selection of French varieties from the Loire Valley, Rhône Valley and Burgundy, among others.
The Maine Lobster Pot Pie is not the only favorite on the menu—Chef Dervieux stated the Skillet Roasted Veal Chop, Roasted Rack of Lamb and quail stuffed with sweet bread are worthy of a try as well. Cuistot is closed during the Valley’s off-season, typically mid-June through mid-September. How does Chef Dervieux spend this time of reflection? It would seem that he is one of the few people who manage to make a living doing what they love to do—and still do! “I like to cook at home for my family,” he said. As they say: do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.
Maine Lobster Pot Pie Ingredients: Cuistot Palm Desert
-Lobster Claws and Tails
-Salt and Pepper
Puff Pastry Dough
72-595 El Paseo
Palm Desert, CA 92260