The F10 Creative is a small empire of iconic restaurants in the ever-growing travel destination of Palm Springs, California, less than two hours away from Los Angeles. The restaurant family includes the famous brunch hotspot Cheeky’s, the gorgeous modern steakhouse Mr. Lyons and their classic cocktail hideaway Seymour’s, a lively and al fresco Italian eatery Birba, the sleek and serene hotel Alcazar, and F10 Catering, the go-to service for all top-tier brand and celebrity events in the desert area.
Tara Lazar, a Palm Springs native, who after spending time traveling and sampling flavors around the world, she returned home to build Cheeky’s as the first establishment in the F10 line. Tara has been hands on in every step of the way for each property, from creating the menu and cooking on the line, to designing the atmosphere and touching tables nightly. She now employs almost 200 residents of Palm Springs, and has been an influential voice across staffing, sourcing and serving in the hospitality industry.
Below, Tara discusses the background of Mr. Lyons while highlighting local farms the restaurant group works closely with in addition to which will be the new arrivals to the menu come late summer and early fall.
Tell us your background and how you have brought your expertise to Mr. Lyons.
My background is ten + years in the restaurant business with a lifetime in Palm Springs. I felt there was a need for a glamorous farm forward elegant restaurant in Palm Springs. Certainly a place to see and be seen but with really solid food.
Which dishes on the menu have stood out for you this summer? For guests?
I’m loving the raw zucchini salad with squash blossoms and the Carolina Gold fried rice. It’s nice to have the mix of really good veggie options at the steakhouse.
I noticed you work closely with a number of local farms and markets. Which ingredients are your favorites to utilize and describe your partnership with these farms and businesses.
Everything is local right now since we’re at the peak of summer. I’m always a sucker for our local corn that comes so fresh and sweet you can eat it raw – as the starch hasn’t even started to form. Milliken farms for corn. Munak farms for the heirloom tomatoes. Weiser farms for squash flowers, etc.
Which are your favorite cocktail and dish pairings?
Rittenhouse rye whiskey sour and our roasted bone marrow with oxtail tellicherry pepper gastric. A great Amarone and our Beef Wellington checks a lot of boxes too.
Which are your favorite dishes?
We have incredible steak but our sides are [also] the stand outs. Onion rings are exceptional. Crispy brussel sprout leaves with balsamic, and our wedge is dipped in a red wine vinegar so it has this acidic element that helps it stand up to all the rich blue cheese and bacon components that gives it the perfect balance.
What are your plans for transitioning into the fall as far as the menu?
We’re excited to start revamping more classic dishes that seem to have fallen to a bygone time. Everything from onion dips, to green goddess dressings, to an epic chopped salad, or even a perfect lobster bisque. That’s what is piquing my palate right now.
How was the restaurant [Mr. Lyons] concept created and what will be new this coming late summer/early fall?
I am very nostalgic in general – and food and restaurants are my link to my best nostalgic moments. I’ve lived and dined at Mr. Lyons for over 40 years, so I wanted to restore the magic of Palm Springs through this concept. Less and less restauranteurs want huge restaurants with fine dining because it’s a big feat to pull off, but we were ready. We wanted something glamorous and classic and “that” place where if you went to Palm Springs and didn’t visit Mr. Lyons, you didn’t do Palm Springs properly.
New things: Our steak is so good it should be left alone but I want to really play with more interesting bar snacks. Bring back old classics but with great ingredients and fun presentations. That’s what we’re focusing our efforts on in the kitchen lab right now.