The Parker is one of Palm Springs’ most popular and famous hotels, so we were excited to check it out on our recent trip to the desert. We left with mixed feelings about it, so we wanted to share our experience, both good and bad.
While we understand that Norma’s is a very popular brunch spot, we would not recommend spending your time or money here. We attempted to have brunch, but ended up paying for our coffee and leaving, We heard many locals agree. Instead, save Norma’s for dessert (see details below).
We’d suggest skipping all the obvious lobby dining areas and head out back to the secret wine bar. To find it, you’ll need to walk past the sign outside Normas that says “Hotel Guests Only” and it will be down the path tot the left. Counter Reformation is small, dark, and in complete contrast to the rest of the hotel, which was decorated by Jonathan Adler, but they offer a very limited menu and curated wine list that is very good, and very reasonably priced.
All the wine on the list is the same price ($7 for 3 ounces, $12 for 6 ounces, or $42 for a bottle), and the selections on the list were interesting and different. We sampled a few of their reds, including a Williamette Valley Pinot and a Cabernet from Columbia Valley, Washington.
The food menu offers a selection of delicious small bites. We’d recommend the Jamon Iberico, the grilled prawn brochette with sundried tomato panzanella, and the avocado, haloumi, and rye toasts with shaved Iberico. ham. If you like foie gras, Counter Reformation also makes a limited number of foie gras macarons.
Other dishes we did not try that sound enticing were the seared sea scallops with mint-pea puree and lobster glaze, and the layered summer tomato salad. We’d definitely go back to try these with a glass of bubbles or white wine.
Try this insider local tip: After dinner, head to Norma’s at night one of their build your own pie shakes for a late night milkshake made with pie by the fire. Choose your flavor, filling, and crust! We’d give it a second chance to try a milkshake for dessert, especially if it followed a dinner of wine and small bites at Counter Reformation.