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A Long Weekend in Palm Springs

A Long Weekend in Palm Springs
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  • A Long Weekend in Palm Springs

    Post #1 - February 16th, 2010, 5:41 pm
    Post #1 - February 16th, 2010, 5:41 pm Post #1 - February 16th, 2010, 5:41 pm
    Figuring that the desert is just about the only place within a reasonable flight time that is guaranteed to be warm, I've booked a long weekend in Palm Springs (we're actually staying in Palm Desert) the Chow Poodle and I. We're leaving on 2/25. I've searched LTH and elsewhere on the internet and so far haven't come up with much that sounds better than average. We've booked one meal at a place called Zin American Bistro, which came recommended on another list, and I plan to hit Manhatten in the Desert for breakfast one day, but other than that, I've got nothing. We're staying at the J.W. Marriott and they have a Northern Italian place called Tuscany, where we're able to reserve the Chef's Table for a special birthday dinner, but I'm always squeamish when it comes to eating in hotel restaurants and would much prefer to go elsewhere if at all possible. Has anyone been to the land of Sony Bono in the recent past? Any recommendations beyond eating in hotels and chains? We've got a car and we're willing to drive. Please help!
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #2 - February 17th, 2010, 11:32 am
    Post #2 - February 17th, 2010, 11:32 am Post #2 - February 17th, 2010, 11:32 am
    We were in Palm Springs a few years ago and had a good meal at Zin. You should enjoy it. The other dinner was at a restaurant now closed. Here in Naples we always take visitors for lunch at the outdoor cafe in Tommy Bahamas. There is a Tommy Bahamas restaurant in Palm Desert. The menu is the same. We love most of the offerings on the lunch menu, especially a habana cabana pork sandwich to die for. It's a fun place. While waiting for your food you can buy some clothes and make it a really expensive meal. I've never eaten dinner there but I imagine it's pretty good.

    http://www.tommybahama.com/TBG/stores_r ... Desert.jsp

    I don't know if you are a Starbucks person who drinks mocha frappuccinos but a west coast chain called The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf has an outpost in Palm Desert and their version (mocha blended drink) is better. I'm not sure of their secret but I believe it could be the addition of malt powder.

    http://coffeebean.com/

    You may want to check out the Parker Hotel during the day and maybe have a drink. It was an old favorite but has been renovated and has a whimsical look. The restaurant menu looks pretty good but very expensive. I haven't heard anything about the food.

    http://theparkerpalmsprings.com/index.php

    Another very expensive option could be Morgan's in the Desert at La Quinta. The chef is Jimmy Schmidt of Rattlesnake Club fame(Detroit, Denver). It was not open when I was visiting.
    "I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day." Frank Sinatra
  • Post #3 - February 17th, 2010, 1:50 pm
    Post #3 - February 17th, 2010, 1:50 pm Post #3 - February 17th, 2010, 1:50 pm
    I stayed at the Parker a few years ago and found the food awesome. Pricey -yes-way overpriced but the quality was so good. The place is so cool-retro 60's designed by David Adler.
    What disease did cured ham actually have?
  • Post #4 - February 17th, 2010, 3:22 pm
    Post #4 - February 17th, 2010, 3:22 pm Post #4 - February 17th, 2010, 3:22 pm
    Hello, all.

    Well, the Coachella Valley is tough for food. I grew up there (in Palm Desert, in fact), but left when I was eighteen to go to college - and haven't really lived there since. My family is still there, though, so I get there once or twice a year.

    Mom and dad will often want to go somewhere desert-fancy-casual. I've had solid, but not great, meals amongst the golf-attired crowds at the Cliff House and at Arnold Palmer's, both in La Quinta. They are picturesque if nothing else.

    We always go to the last remaining of our favorite Mexican places out in Indio: El Rincon Norteno. This is the style of Mexican food that I grew up on. I think it's delicious - but take that with the caveat that it also engenders many happy memories for me. Are some things a little overly cheesy or greasy? Possibly.

    If you find yourself in Indio during the day (why you would, I'm not sure, unless you wanted to go to our county fair, the Riverside County National Date Festival), stop in at Arriola's Tortilleria and get some chips and chile sauce. Well-fried tortilla chips and a chile-based sauce. Might not be worth a special trip (tho i will admit to having gone from the interstate into town for it - see "happy memories," above).

    Keedy's is an old-school diner that has been overrun by more modern buildings. It was there when i was a small child, and even when my dad was a young man. It's a Palm Desert institution, for all that means.

    I'll tell you what's also old school: Go to Shield's Date Gardens, on Highway 111 between La Quinta and Indio for a date shake. Oh, and to buy some dates to bring home, and to see "The Romance and Sex Life of the Date" in their sumptuous 108 seat theatre. This property has not changed significantly since the 50s (according to my dad, who i trust in such matters). For a long time i was a little grossed out by dates (having to pick them out of my shoes after cross country practice turned me off) - but trust me - the shake is fantastic.

    That's what comes to mind now. I'll add more if I think of it (or if I have anything good when I'm out there next week).

    ALSO: Feel free to PM me if you want some ideas of places to go hiking.

    -jim

    The Cliff House
    78250 Highway 111
    La Quinta, CA 92253-2074
    (760) 360-5991

    Arnold Palmer's Restaurant
    78164 Avenue 52
    La Quinta, CA 92253-8909
    (760) 771-4653

    El Rincon Norteno
    83011 Indio Blvd
    Indio, CA 92201
    (760) 347-4754

    Arriola's Tortilleria
    82721 Wilson Ave.
    Indio, CA 92201
    (760) 347-7782

    Keedy's Fountain Grill
    73-663 Highway 111
    Palm Desert, CA 92260
    (760) 346-6492

    Shield's Date Gardens
    80-225 Highway 111
    Indio, CA 92201
    (760) 347-0996
  • Post #5 - February 17th, 2010, 3:25 pm
    Post #5 - February 17th, 2010, 3:25 pm Post #5 - February 17th, 2010, 3:25 pm
    Steve,

    Assuming you fly into LAX (or any SoCal airport other than tiny PSP), you will drive by the Mission Inn of Riverside (about 1/2 way to Palm Desert). I insist that you stop there and report back. Duane's, the fancy steak house in the Mission Inn, is really pretty good.

    The Mission Inn is an over-the-top Granadan fantasy that maintains in otherwise drive-through-country downtown Riverside. (Though Riverside-SB has a huge population, it faces the west and LA; downtown Riverside is beat. I worked out of the Mission Inn for nearly a year about 10 years ago.)

    You will see good taquerias and mariscos places around the edges of Riverside too. No specifics; you'll know when you see them.

    http://www.missioninn.com/
  • Post #6 - February 17th, 2010, 3:38 pm
    Post #6 - February 17th, 2010, 3:38 pm Post #6 - February 17th, 2010, 3:38 pm
    el refrito bandito wrote:Hello, all.

    Well, the Coachella Valley is tough for food. I grew up there



    Ever go to Gay & Larry's, the old Mexican place that appeared to have been lifted directly from an Abbott & Costello movie?

    http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=6 ... 6360144..1
  • Post #7 - February 17th, 2010, 5:37 pm
    Post #7 - February 17th, 2010, 5:37 pm Post #7 - February 17th, 2010, 5:37 pm
    JeffB wrote:Steve,

    Assuming you fly into LAX (or any SoCal airport other than tiny PSP), you will drive by the Mission Inn of Riverside (about 1/2 way to Palm Desert). I insist that you stop there and report back. Duane's, the fancy steak house in the Mission Inn, is really pretty good.


    Jeff,

    We're flying in and out of PSP, so no Mission Inn on this trip. :(
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #8 - February 17th, 2010, 7:05 pm
    Post #8 - February 17th, 2010, 7:05 pm Post #8 - February 17th, 2010, 7:05 pm
    JeffB wrote:
    Ever go to Gay & Larry's, the old Mexican place that appeared to have been lifted directly from an Abbott & Costello movie?

    http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=6 ... 6360144..1



    Hmm.... That does not ring a bell (and I would think it would!). I'm sorry to have missed it! A little research on the intertubes suggests it was by Riverside* - and so out of my conventional Rancho Mirage-to-Coachella range. The old man might know something about it tho.

    Thanks for the reminder about the Mission Inn. I've only ever driven by it. One of those things I should definitely go explore when making the LAX-PD run!**

    Best,
    -jim

    *not part of the Coachella Valley. Once you get past Sans Jacinto y Gorgonio, the windmills and the dinosaurs, you're out.

    **which for me traditionally includes some combination of Randy's Donuts, The Donut Man, In-n-Out and Sanamluang Cafe.
  • Post #9 - February 17th, 2010, 7:23 pm
    Post #9 - February 17th, 2010, 7:23 pm Post #9 - February 17th, 2010, 7:23 pm
    It's all Inland Empire to us outsiders. :wink: Gay & Larry's was one of a dying breed -- "30's Style" Mexican-American with an odd mix of the authentic (chiles rellenos) and the non (the cheese on the CR was Velveeta, the batter Jiffy Mix -- a la ReneG's recent post). I've been to similar roadhouses in the outskirts of Denver and Phoenix, but Gay & Larry's was the archetype. It was kind of like Marie's Pizza, Mexican version. And it was in an especially desolate, run down part of east Riverside (Redlands, Rubidoux???), which you might know is saying something. When a tumbleweed rolled by me in the parking lot on the way in, I knew I was in for a treat.
  • Post #10 - February 17th, 2010, 11:23 pm
    Post #10 - February 17th, 2010, 11:23 pm Post #10 - February 17th, 2010, 11:23 pm
    I usually visit La Quinta a few times a year (family) so I hope I can provide decent advice - especially since we usually stick to La Quinta and Palm Desert.

    I ate at Tuscany around Christmas 2008 and had a pretty mediocre meal, although I thought the setting was beautiful. If I recall correctly, the hotel has a large lake and you can take a boat from one part of the resort to the restaurant. But I can think of many much better places to eat.

    I really like Zin. Just keep in mind that from the Marriott it's going to take you around 30 minutes to get there (longer if you stick to Hwy 111). But it's reasonably priced and very good.

    Manhattan in the Desert - I think it's ok, nothing special, although I haven't been there in a while. I'm not sure it's worth the drive from your hotel but I haven't had many breakfasts in the area.

    If you ask me, the best restaurant in Palm Desert (and probably the entire desert area) is Cuistot, but it's very pricey. The food is typically excellent, however. But this tells the tale of dining in the desert - food tends to be on the plain side and Cuistot departs from this norm slightly.

    Tommy Bahama's is a small chain as you can tell, but I always enjoy lunch there. They have a very comfortable outdoor dining area (although the increase in the presence of pigeons over the years has become a bit annoying) and the food is decent enough - seared ahi tuna salad, fried fish sandwich. I probably like it more for atmosphere, but the food tends to be decent. I really like the warm rolls and nutmeg scented butter they start you off with. It's in the middle of the upscale El Paseo shopping street which is a nice street for a walk and offers mostly expensive art galleries.

    Don't forget that there are 2 In-N-Outs in the area - one's at the corner of Ramon & I-10, less than 10 minutes from the airport and on the way to your hotel if you take Hwy 10. There's also one on 111 in Indio, which is not too far from your hotel.

    As for Arnold Palmer's, it's probably my favorite restaurant in the area. As a golfer, I particularly like the atmosphere and memorabilia and it's a huge draw in La Quinta. But they also do a very nice job with upscale comfort food, particularly their chicken pot pie (no longer on the regular dinner menu but still available so ask for it). They also have an upscale bar area, occasionally offering singers/piano players. Note that this place is always packed so reserve well in advance. It's about a 10-minute drive from the Marriott.
  • Post #11 - February 18th, 2010, 9:52 am
    Post #11 - February 18th, 2010, 9:52 am Post #11 - February 18th, 2010, 9:52 am
    Steve - when Mrs. Davooda and I were in PS for tennis a few years back we were hosted by friends at a nice, locals place called Shame on the Moon. We threw the age curve big time when we walked in, but I really liked the place. When I read the menu that "Sauteed calf's liver" was the chef's signature entree, I was fearing the worst, but it was very good! I liken the atmosphere to an upscale supper-club and the "Rat-Pack" themed decor had me smiling all evening.

    http://www.shameonthemoon.com/

    Shame on the Moon
    69950 Frank Sinatra Dr
    Rancho Mirage, CA 760-324-5515.

    Davooda
    Life is a garden, Dude - DIG IT!
    -- anonymous Colorado snowboarder whizzing past me March 2010
  • Post #12 - February 18th, 2010, 4:47 pm
    Post #12 - February 18th, 2010, 4:47 pm Post #12 - February 18th, 2010, 4:47 pm
    Excellent LA food blog that has several helpful posts on Palm Springs (scroll down the bar on the right):

    http://eatingla.blogspot.com/
  • Post #13 - February 18th, 2010, 5:17 pm
    Post #13 - February 18th, 2010, 5:17 pm Post #13 - February 18th, 2010, 5:17 pm
    I totally forgot about Il Sogno, a new bakery and tiny cafe which opened on El Paseo on Palm Dessert . . . maybe a 5-minute drive from your hotel. I had an outstanding croissant there and some of the other pastries looked outstanding. I also had a palmier which was good but not great and a petit four which was excellent. They also offer sandwiches (and I believe coffee) but I'm not sure what else. I would absolutely stop in at Il Sogno.

    Il Sogno
    73-375 El Paseo
    Palm Desert, CA
    760.837.1999
  • Post #14 - February 19th, 2010, 2:20 pm
    Post #14 - February 19th, 2010, 2:20 pm Post #14 - February 19th, 2010, 2:20 pm
    the restaurant/bar kings highway at the new ace hotel is out of sight (dont know if you've been to any other aces, but their resto is on par with the other restos in their chain i.e. clyde common/the breslin)... very casual, but sleek. it's in a remodeled HoJo.

    you have to check out wally's desert turtle... classic psp....if yr willing to drop a bill or two.
    "cooking is an art. baking a science."
    -- benjamin franklin
  • Post #15 - February 19th, 2010, 3:14 pm
    Post #15 - February 19th, 2010, 3:14 pm Post #15 - February 19th, 2010, 3:14 pm
    I can't pass Palm Springs without a stop at Sherman's Deli. Grab a seat outside, order a lox and onion omelet and count the toupees that walk in and out. Old school Palm Springs at its finest.

    Also had a great time at Tropicale recently.
  • Post #16 - February 19th, 2010, 8:34 pm
    Post #16 - February 19th, 2010, 8:34 pm Post #16 - February 19th, 2010, 8:34 pm
    Here's another thread that might help: viewtopic.php?t=16340. I mentioned Copley's in that thread, and I think it's a great restaurant, but I'm hesitant to suggest it here because Palm Springs is a pretty good drive from Palm Desert and you're already headed to Zin in Palm Springs.
  • Post #17 - February 23rd, 2010, 12:48 pm
    Post #17 - February 23rd, 2010, 12:48 pm Post #17 - February 23rd, 2010, 12:48 pm
    Thanks for all the leads. We're leaving in a couple of days and I'll be sure to report back. Driving between Palm Desert and Palm Springs (and elsewhere) is no problem. We've got reservations at Zin (as I mentioned) and also at Wally's Desert Turtle. I'm thinking about booking a birthday dinner at Cuistot for Friday night.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #18 - March 9th, 2010, 8:20 am
    Post #18 - March 9th, 2010, 8:20 am Post #18 - March 9th, 2010, 8:20 am
    We're back from Palm Springs and I want to say thank you to everyone who provided tips or our trip. As I mentioned, the whole point f this trip was to get out of the cold and enjoy some warm weather. Palm Springs delivered in spades. We had great weather every day except one, when the high was only in the upper 60s and it rained for a couple of hours.

    Image

    Day 1

    We made plans to have dinner with The Chow Poodle's Aunt & Uncle, who are part time residents of Palm Springs, at Zin American Bistro. We drove to the restaurant from our hotel and upon arriving, found the street closed off because there is a street fair on Palm Canyon Drive scheduled for every Thursday. We had to park several blocks away and as we walked through the street fair to the restaurant, the voice in my head was screaming for me to call an audible and just eat on the street instead. There was quite an array of ethnic food being offered and a lot of it was looking real good! Unfortunately, the relatives were already waiting for us at the restaurant, so we soldiered on.

    Zin was a bit of a disappointment. They had perfect pitch and managed to hit mediocrity right on the head. From clueless servers, to average food, to prices that were completely unjustified for the type of restaurant that Zin is and the quality of the food they offered. Between four of us, we had an order of Oysters "Rockefeller" (don't ask), 2 cups of soup, a salad, a burger, a special of strip steak and chicken breast covered in some kind of sauce. We drank two glasses of cheap Pino Grigio and two ice teas. Total tab...$190.00 pre tip. I felt like I had the word "sucker" tattooed on my forehead; especially since that street fair was raging just outside the door of this establishment.

    Our eating adventures were not off to a good start, but at least we got a chance to try some of the food on the street on the way back to our car. A real silver lining is the fact that I discovered a BBQ place that looked pretty good and we decided to come back the next day to check it out.

    Zin American Bistro
    198 South Palm Canyon Drive
    Palm Springs, CA 92262
    (760) 322-6300
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #19 - March 9th, 2010, 9:58 am
    Post #19 - March 9th, 2010, 9:58 am Post #19 - March 9th, 2010, 9:58 am
    Day 2

    The next day of our trip was much better. Armed with my research, we started the day with breakfast at Keedy's, an old school diner that has been serving the Palm Springs area since 1957.

    Keedy's Fountain Grill
    Image

    I'd characterize Keedy's as the Patty's Diner of Palm Springs. Most of the people in there are regulars and the wait staff knows them by name. Many don't even have to order, as the "usual" is brought to the table unbidden. Keedy's is somewhat rustic, with only the most basic of decoration, including a wall full of typical Hollywood Star posters. The notable difference is that at Keedy's, the people in the posters were/are actually customers.

    Image

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    I started off with an order of biscuits and gravy, which was pretty good but could never be mistaken for something that I would be served south of the Mason Dixon Line. That was followed up with an order of scrambled eggs and their justifably famous pancakes. The pancakes are very thin, but pack some good flavor.

    Keedy's Breakfast
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    After breakfast, it was time to hit the road and do some exploring. We headed East towards Indio to check out Shields' Date Garden. Shields' has been around since 1924 and, of all the date-related roadside attractions in the Cochilla Valley, is the only one where they actually grow dates on the premises.

    Shields' Date Garden
    Image

    Shields' has more varieties of dates than I ever knew existed and there are free samples available, so you are able to make your own comparisons. I never realized the huge difference in taste between different varieties of dates. Up until my visit, I pretty much thought that a date was a date. Not so any longer.

    Shields' Date Store
    Image

    Of course, date shakes were being sold as fast as they could be made. Shields' uses "date crystals" in their shakes, which are the invention of Floyd Shields.

    Date Shakes
    Image

    Of course, no visit to Shields' Date Garden is complete without taking in the epic "Romance and Sex Life of the Date", which is a continuously showing slide/video presentation that grew out of Floyd Shields' lectures back in the 20's. As cheesy as this sounds, it's actually packed full of good information about the cultivation of dates and its history in the Cochilla Valley. I learned more about dates in that short 15 minutes than I ever thought I needed to know. The most interesting fact for me was that date palms rarely pollinate themselves in the wild. There is a very elaborate method for pollination that is largely done by hand. Floyd Shields estimated that there probably hasn't been a naturally occurring date in nature for over 500 years.

    Let Me Entertain You
    Image

    Shields' 108 Seat Theatre
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    All that talk of dates and sex had us feeling a bit peckish, so we headed the rent-a-car back towards Palm Springs to check out that BBQ place I spotted the night before, The Cowboy Way.

    Image

    One of the last things I expected to find in Palm Springs was an honest to goodness wood-burning BBQ joint, but sure enough, here it was. I had walked by this place the night before on the way to Zin and smelled the smoke. The Cowboy Way is located in what used to be the Greyhound Bus terminal, so it does at least have an air of respectability. :wink:

    The Cowboy Way
    Image

    The owner, Daniel Placencia, is a competition BBQ guy who has won his share of trophies. The day we were there, he was traveling to a competition along with his main pit, but the one he left behind to take care of the restaurant was nothing to sneeze at. It's an old barrel type smoker that was burning wood logs.

    The Cowboy Way Backup Smoker
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    Inside, the place isn't much to look at, but the friendly waitress greets everyone as though they've been coming there for years and it makes for a very homey feel. They serve both baby back and beef ribs along with chicken, pulled pork, brisket and tri-tip. When asked about the tri-tip, the waitress was quick to offer that they smoke the tri-tip the same way as the brisket rather than grilling and slicing the tri-tip as they do in much of California. We ordered both a brisket sandwich and a tri-tip sandwich. Between both of those sandwiches, the tri-tip was the clear winner. Unfortunately, due to a miscommunication, both sandwiches came covered in sauce and made for bad looking pictures. I also ordered a pulled pork slider (this time with no sauce) which was delicious as well as photogenic.

    The Cowboy Way Waitress
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    Pulled Pork Slider
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    The Cowboy Way was a real find. It's slightly out of character from most of the other places we visited on this trip, but is a place I'll never skip on any visits to Palm Springs.

    Dinner that night was at the highly recommended Cuistot.

    Image

    In so many ways, Cuistot reminds me of our own Prairie Grass Cafe. The chef, Bernard Dervieux, was formerly the executive chef at The Beverly Hills Hotel and later knocked around at a few of the Cochilla Valley resorts before starting his own ingredient-driven restaurant. The restaurant is located in a stand alone building and decorated in a very open and airy way to really give the diners a feeling of space. There is an open kitchen and, in addition to the main dining room, a smaller more casual room just off the kitchen.

    Cuistot Interior
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    Cuistot Kitchen
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    Dinner started off with an amuse of a raw button mushroom filled with a goat cheese mixture.

    Cuistot Amuse
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    We started off with a lovely mixed green salad and an appetizer of Diver Scallops and Maine Lobster, which was excellent, and probably the best bite of the entire dinner.

    Cuistot Mixed Green Salad
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    Cuistot Diver Scallops and Maine Lobster With a Filo Dough Round over Garlic Tomato Coulis with Thyme Essence
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    For our mains, we had an organic chicken dish and a special of a wood roasted veal chop with wild mushrooms.

    Organic Chicken in Aged Red Wine Vinegar Sauce with Vegetables and Beet Greens Flan
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    Organic Wood Roasted Veal Chop with Wild Mushrooms and Vegetables
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    For dessert, we split a Valhrona Chocolate soufflé, which was actually more of a cake than a soufflé and a bit of a dissapointment.

    Valhrona Chocolate Soufflé
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    Service was attentive and the pacing was perfect. The only glitch happened at the end of the meal. We were seated next to a blowhard Plotnicki type who was monopolizing the staff as he rhapsodized about wines he has tasted elsewhere and how "Spirits have never crossed the lips of my lady". Our waiter was unable to escape his droning on, so the matre 'd, in an effort to help out, came to our table and removed our soufflé dish before we had finished and promptly delivered our check without exchanging a word with us. This was really off putting and put a bad ending on an otherwise very enjoyable meal. Our waiter saw what happened and when he eventually escaped from the guy at the next table, he came over an apologized. Eventually, the Plotnicki character was left to talk to the bus boy, which I found very amusing.

    More later.


    Keedy's Fountain Grill
    73633 Highway 111
    Palm Desert, CA 92260
    (760) 346-6492‎

    Shields' Date Garden
    80-225 U.S. Highway 111
    Indio, CA 92201
    (760) 347-7768

    The Cowboy Way
    317 North Indian Canyon Drive
    Palm Springs, CA 92262
    (760) 322-0265

    Cuistot
    72595 El Paseo Ave
    Palm Desert, CA 92260
    (760) 340-1000
    Last edited by stevez on March 9th, 2010, 10:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #20 - March 9th, 2010, 10:04 am
    Post #20 - March 9th, 2010, 10:04 am Post #20 - March 9th, 2010, 10:04 am
    great pictures and descriptions as always Steve.

    thanks for the report, it allowed me to day dream about Palm Springs if only for a couple minutes this a.m.
    R.I.P. jimswside - 5/2/16



    @GrubSeeker
  • Post #21 - March 9th, 2010, 10:05 am
    Post #21 - March 9th, 2010, 10:05 am Post #21 - March 9th, 2010, 10:05 am
    did the date shakes have date peices or just the date sugar in them?
    i used to milk cows
  • Post #22 - March 9th, 2010, 10:12 am
    Post #22 - March 9th, 2010, 10:12 am Post #22 - March 9th, 2010, 10:12 am
    teatpuller wrote:did the date shakes have date peices or just the date sugar in them?


    Not date sugar, but date crystals, which are little chunks of dried dates which rehydrate quickly in the liquid.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #23 - March 9th, 2010, 1:39 pm
    Post #23 - March 9th, 2010, 1:39 pm Post #23 - March 9th, 2010, 1:39 pm
    Steve,

    Sorry about your meal at Zin. The dishes you had seem pretty downscale. I was there 3 years ago and the food was contemporary and creative. Have they dumbed down the menu? Is it possible you just ordered poorly?
    "I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day." Frank Sinatra
  • Post #24 - March 9th, 2010, 2:44 pm
    Post #24 - March 9th, 2010, 2:44 pm Post #24 - March 9th, 2010, 2:44 pm
    RevrendAndy wrote:Steve,

    Sorry about your meal at Zin. The dishes you had seem pretty downscale. I was there 3 years ago and the food was contemporary and creative. Have they dumbed down the menu? Is it possible you just ordered poorly?



    Based on your (and others) description, I'd say they dumbed down the entire place. It was not at all as described, so I'm assuming something changed since you were there.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #25 - March 9th, 2010, 4:13 pm
    Post #25 - March 9th, 2010, 4:13 pm Post #25 - March 9th, 2010, 4:13 pm
    Day 3

    The next day dawned cold (by Palm Springs standards) and rainy. The "major rainstorm" that they were expecting lasted about 2 hours and amounted to precipitation measured in the hundredths of an inch. We definitely needed jackets, but that didn't stop us from getting on with our day.

    Breakfast was at one of the delis in the desert, Sherman's Deli & Bakery. Sherman's has two locations. One in Palm Springs and one in Palm Desert. We went to the Palm Desert location because it was right down the street from our hotel. As soon as I pulled into the parking lot and saw their delivery truck, I felt a strong sense of déjà vu. There was something comforting and familiar in the name, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. :wink:

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    Sherman's is a typical suburban deli and is very similar to The Bagel or Max & Benny's here in Chicago. They even feature Vienna Beef products (notice the Vienna clock in the picture below).

    Sherman's Deli & Bakery
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    I ordered corned beef hash and poached eggs after inquiring whether the CBH was made in house. It was a very good version which reminded me of the style (if not quite the taste) of Manny's CBH. It was cooked crispy on the outside as requested. You had the option of potatoes, tomatoes or cottage cheese on the side. I opted for cottage cheese as a change of pace.

    Sherman's Corned Beef Hash
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    The Chow Poodle had a bowl of oatmeal and an English muffin. She wasn't very hungry because she was all hopped up on the idea of going to the flea market/street fair that is held every Saturday and Sunday in the parking lot of the College of the Desert. Discovering a flea market for the Chow Poodle is roughly equivalent to an LTHer discovering a new source of hand made noodles and soup dumplings. She was very happy to be going there, to say the least.

    Flea Market Anticipation
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    The Flea Market is gigantic, taking up an entire parking lot. You can find all the usual knockoffs and tszotchkes, but there are a respectable number of stalls selling artisan quality crafts as well as a bunch of Indian beadwork and featherwork objects d' art. Also, there is a substantial food section as well as a farmers' market of sorts where fresh fruit, nuts and veggies are sold.

    College of the Desert Street Fair
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    We spent some time at the fair and worked up a bit of an appetite, so it was off to Tommy Bahama's for a snack. Tommy Bahama's isn't exactly the type of place I would normally seek out. It's a chain located within a store in a mall, however several people raved about the coconut shrimp and that is one dish that is right in the Chow Poodle's wheelhouse, so off we went. The joint was jumping on a cool, cloudy Saturday and there was at least a one hour wait for a table, but there was immediate seating at the communal tables in the bar area where we were lucky enough to be seated with a group of the Palm Springs Chapter of Ladies Who Lunch. These gals were a stitch and we had a great time hanging out with the jet set ("You're from Chicago? I think my husband owns a couple of businesses there.")

    Ladies Who Lunch
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    The Poodle had her coconut shrimp; and a fine example they were. I had the Loki-Loki Tuna Poke, which was cubed sashimi grade tuna tossed with sesame oil then layered with guacamole and served with flatbread (which I call crackers). It was actually pretty good and not too filling (a good thing, since I heavily indulged at the street fair).

    Tommy Bahama's Coconut Shrimp
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    Tommy Bahama's Loki-Loki Tuna Poke
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    We had noticed that Tuscany's, the Italian Restaurant in our hotel, grew all of their own herbs on the grounds. Although I usually hesitate to eat in hotel restaurants, we weren't all that hungry for dinner. That coupled with the cool weather made us decide to stay in that night and check out Tuscany's.

    Tuscany's Herb Garden
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    I opted for the ubiquitously available in Palm Springs lobster ravioli at the waiter's suggestion. He insisted that it really was a great signature dish and that he wasn't recommending it just because it was the most expensive item on the menu. The ravioli had nice big chunks of lobster in it, but overall it was a pretty bland one-note dish. The Chow Poodle's bruscetta, which she ordered as a main dish, fared better; mostly due to the freshness of the herbs and the fact that you can get pretty decent tomatoes out there this time of year. I'd say that this dinner was predictably forgettable. You can dress them up, but hotel restaurants usually seem to fall into the same trap of serving corporately approved food that takes away any sort of creativity in the kitchen. To leave this review on a positive note, the trio of vanilla, banana and chocolate brulees that I was served for dessert was superb. The chocolate, in particular, was exceptional.

    More later

    Sherman's Deli
    73161 Country Club Dr
    Palm Desert, CA 92260
    (760) 568-1350

    Sherman's Deli
    401 East Tahquitz Canyon Way
    Palm Springs, CA 92262
    (760) 325-1199

    College of the Desert Street Fair
    43-500 Monterey Avenue
    Palm Desert, California, 92260
    (760) 636-7957 or (760) 636-7956

    Tommy Bahama Cafe
    73595 El Paseo
    Palm Desert, CA 92260
    (760) 836-0188

    Tuscany's Restaurante
    JW Marriott Palm Desert
    74855 Country Club Drive
    Palm Desert, CA 92260
    (760) 341-1725
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #26 - March 9th, 2010, 7:38 pm
    Post #26 - March 9th, 2010, 7:38 pm Post #26 - March 9th, 2010, 7:38 pm
    Day 4

    The next day dawned clear and bright. The "storm" had passed, so we decided to take a drive up into the mountains. Highway 74 winds its way up into the mountains and offers spectacular views back into the valley below. That's Palm Desert way off in the distance in the second picture.

    Highway 74
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    Highway 74 is one of the nicer drives I've been on in quite some time. It winds its way up past the snow line to about 5,000 feet and snakes its way across the tops of the San Jacinto Mountains.

    Is That Snow in the Desert?
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    About 25 miles along the winding road, you come to the intersection with Hwy 371 where you will find not only a shortcut to San Diego (saving about 1 hr. as opposed to taking the freeway), but also the Paradise Corner Café.

    Paradise Corner Café
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    Paradise Corner is a great little roadhouse serving up breakfast and lunch daily. I ordered a Denver omelet with Swiss cheese and jalapenos and the Chow Poodle ordered an egg white omelet with spinach and feta. Both were very well made; nice and fluffy with a balanced hand with the ingredients. My only complaint was that the home fries they served me could have used a little more crisping up, but that's a minor complaint. For a roadhouse in the middle of nowhere, this place rocks!

    Paradise Corner Denver Omelet
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    Paradise Corner Egg White Spinach Omelet
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    The highway took us through Hemet and Beaumont before finally leading us back to the interstate for a drive back to Palm Springs. By the time we got back, we were a little hungry. As tempting as it was to stop at In-N-Out, I decided it was better to try a locally owned burger place rather than a chain which, although there are none in Chicago, is common enough for me to get to often enough for my needs, so we drove to Grill-A-Burger, a mom & pop owned burger joint in Palm Desert (There is a second Grill-A-Burger location in downtown Palm Springs). I had an original grill-a-burger, which is a 30's style burger served with traditional toppings (mayo, mustard, ketchup & pickle). The Chow Poodle had a Baby Boomer (Cheeseburger Slider) and we split a 50/50 order of fresh cut fries and onion rings. This place delivered the goods and I recommend it for a quick burger fix when a chain just won't do.

    Grill-A-Burger Baby Boomer
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    On the way back to the hotel for some R&R, we came across a lemon tree bursting with fruit. Here we see the Chow Poodle stocking up for the trip home. These lemons were extra large and very juicy! So far, The Chow Poodle has used them to make lemon squares, and I've used them in a condiment similar to chimchurri for some steaks I grilled up for the Oscars.

    Picking Lemons
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    R&R at the Marriott

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    For our last dinner in Palm Springs, we decided to go all out and blow a wad of cash at Wally’s Desert Turtle. Wally’s is a throwback to a bygone era. Actually, it’s not really a throwback, since they’ve been in existence the entire time. Service is polished and in the French manner; with a tuxedoed captain, waiter and servers working together as a team. The ambiance is elegant and sedate, with a bit of over the top glitz. Back in the day, Wally’s was the place to see and be seen and many of the old time celebs still frequent Wally’s on a regular basis. Just drop a name, and one of the wait staff will talk about the last time they were in and what they ordered.

    For various reasons, ranging from lighting to atmosphere, Wally’s is a tough place to take pictures, but I managed to sneak a few with The Chow Poodle's camera. Apologies in advance for the photo quality. Wally’s Desert Turtle is dark with a capital “D”.

    I started off with escargot bourguignon served in the shell with delicious garlic/parsley butter. The Chow Poodle had a shrimp cocktail. The appetizers were followed by a split Caesar salad. Entrées followed. Roasted Iowa Gold Pork Tenderloin with Sautéed Gala Apple and Golden Raisin, Apple Cider Demi-Glace for the Chow Poodle and Roasted Maple Leaf Duck Breast Smoked Bacon and Braised Cabbage, Medjool Date and Marsala Sauce for me.

    Roasted Iowa Gold Pork Tenderloin
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    Maple Leaf Duck Breast
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    For desert, we spun the soufflé wheel of fortune once again, and this time we came up winners. We ordered two different soufflés and both of them were stellar! We had a chocolate as well as a blueberry soufflé, which was a special flavor that day. I can’t say enough about how good the blueberry soufflé was in particular. The chocolate was great as well, but I just couldn’t get past how good the blueberry one was. I had never encountered a blueberry soufflé before, and now it’s something I will seek out, though I doubt any future blueberry soufflé will equal the one I was served at Wally’s Desert Turtle.

    Wally’s Desert Turtle Chocolate Soufflé
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    Wally’s Desert Turtle Blueberry Soufflé
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    Going in, I expected Wally’s to be elegant but stuffy with food that hearkened back to a bygone era, but not necessarily prepared at the highest level. I was pleasantly surprised at how good Wally’s was. It really brought to mind some very pleasant meals I enjoyed at the late, lamented Ambria. I’d recommend it for any special occasion. I give it five stars.

    The next morning, after a second breakfast at Keedy’s, we headed to the airport. Our visit to Palm Springs was just the mid-winter getaway we needed. I think I’ll be doing this again because there are plenty of places that we never had a chance to check out.

    Paradise Corner Café
    61721 State Highway 74
    Mountain Center, CA 92561
    (909) 659-0730

    Grill-A-Burger
    73091 Country Club Drive
    Palm Desert, CA 92260
    (760) 346-8170

    Wally’s Desert Turtle
    71775 Highway 111
    Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
    (760) 568-9321
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #27 - March 9th, 2010, 9:15 pm
    Post #27 - March 9th, 2010, 9:15 pm Post #27 - March 9th, 2010, 9:15 pm
    Thanks for the rundown. I'll be headed there in a few weeks. This will give me some options.
    i used to milk cows
  • Post #28 - March 9th, 2010, 10:48 pm
    Post #28 - March 9th, 2010, 10:48 pm Post #28 - March 9th, 2010, 10:48 pm
    Great pictures and write-up Steve. I also have to say that the Zin you described does not sound at all like the place I have visited, but perhaps there have been changes for the worse. On the other hand, my last meal at Wally's was a major disappointment and I feared it might be headed south - glad to hear that I could put my fears to rest. As for Tommy Bahama's, it's not the sort of place I would normally recommend, but I agree they do a pretty good job and I have enjoyed that very same tuna dish you pictured. In fact, TB's has never disappointed me.

    As for the street fair, I hope you got a chance to try those strawberries - they're always a reminder to me about how good strawberries can be. The fair is also a great place to sample and purchase all types of dates.
  • Post #29 - March 10th, 2010, 12:24 pm
    Post #29 - March 10th, 2010, 12:24 pm Post #29 - March 10th, 2010, 12:24 pm
    Great post and pictures.

    Next time at Tommy's, get their Habana Cabana pork sandwich. It's to die for.
    "I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day." Frank Sinatra
  • Post #30 - March 10th, 2010, 2:15 pm
    Post #30 - March 10th, 2010, 2:15 pm Post #30 - March 10th, 2010, 2:15 pm
    Fantastic post, Steve (and great pictures). It's always interesting to see familiar places filtered through the eyes of others.

    Glad to see you found Grill-a-Burger. It's one of my folks' favorites (tho i declined going there on my trip out a couple of weeks ago cuz i had just pounded down a date shake...).

    All the best,
    -jim

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