Historically, Palm Springs used to shut down over the summer. Too damn hot, and without tourists, the town dwindles down to a fraction of its 40,000 person population, because a lot of residents leave too.
But in the last three years, restaurants and shops have started to stay open all year round though, thanks to things like Splash House and other manufactured, come to the desert in the summer events.
This was a reason we bought a house here in 2019. There clearly was a shift going on, and people wanting to spend ever more time here. We had no idea how much the pandemic would accelerate that, almost doubling our home’s value in little more than a year. (!!!!)
Sure enough, few restaurants closed this summer until … September?
It seems like suddenly everyone has shut down just after Labor Day, when hotels were 4x over booked. Apparently summer is still rocking, heat or no. But September: The combo of the still raging heat, with school already started and no more three day weekends in the works. September is the new dead month.
All of my usuals are closed. Even Sherman’s is doing “deep cleaning” for a week. The answering machine for the Rooster and the Pig says, “We’re going on vacation and this year it’s gonna be a long one…” I guess they’re all having hot girl fall, after enabling all of SoCal’s hot girl summer.
It’s been a reminder that I’ve become smug in my thinking that I’ve been there, tried it all here. The truth is I stopped trying new places at some point, convinced there weren’t more gems to be found after a bunch of disappointments.
Last night, though, we went to Workshop. How had I never been here before??? It was absolutely incredible. One of the best meals I’ve had in Palm Springs. I’d put it just under Bar Cecil.
There’s a lot of the James Beard logo all over the website, not something you see a ton here. But it was for restaurant design not the food, so I didn’t know what to expect. The food deserves the acclaim as well.
I had a gorgeous and too expensive vodka cocktail with a floating flower in it, and an incredible medium bodied red by the glass, recommended by the server. We had a fruit and burrata salad, followed by an incredible vegetarian meal that was just fresh vegetables cooked in butter with salt and served with a cashew labneh to swipe through. Absolutely incredible. Paul finished his steak and chowed through the rest of mine. The desert was a chocolate peanut butter bar with crushed pistachio on top. One of the best deserts I’ve had in a long time.
And the service was incredible. We were running late and I called and they said, “Is this Sarah? No problem, don’t rush, we’ve got your table all ready whenever you get here.” Not what happens when you are 20 minutes late for a reservation in SF.
We were absolutely blown away and all, “Guess we don’t know the town as well as we thought …”
I got the reservation on Resy, and there are at most a dozen Palm Springs restaurants on there. So I think we need to methodically try them all. Our neighbors also told us about a sushi place we didn’t know about and a Peruvian place that’s their weekly go to.
There’s also Paul Bar. I remember our realtor telling us about Paul Bar. It’s in a shitty strip mall on Vista Chino and the sign just says “BAR/FOOD.”
I keep driving past it on the way back and forth to school, and I’m like, “I swear that’s the place that Nikki was telling me was secretly a local hot spot…” Sure enough
I’ve got some homework to do.
What else I’ve eaten this week…
Thursday: The Barn at Sparrows Lodge
A foodie friend asked me why we always go to the Ace, when the Barn at Sparrows Lodge is right next to it and so much better. I did not have an answer!
Except, “uh…. what’s the Barn at Sparrows Lodge?”
Paul and I rectified that Thursday when our kitchen was getting dug up.
It was absolutely DELIGHTFUL. First off, I want a staycation to stay at this adorable lodge. We sat in a gorgeous gazebo like setting with the misters set just right and an outdoor fan. Was 99 degrees but totally comfortable outside. It felt very un-Palm Springs but I don’t mean that as a knock. It felt retreat in sort of a high end lodge in an East Coast forest kinda way.
The menu was limited and I was intrigued by the Chicken Salad sandwich even though I have never wanted one in my life. Paul got the burger to contrast it with the Ace. (It was good but more of a fancy burger he said. The Ace is like a slightly more sophisticated In-n-out.)
I got the half cheese and charcuterie and thank God because it was the perfect amount. And I got the basic farm lettuces salad without any protein. The dressing was tangy, portions huge, and it felt like you want a salad to feel on a hot day.
I look forward to going back regularly, although I do wish there were a few more menu items… you basically have to want a burger, chicken salad or a salad.
It got major Paul points because they not only had Diet Coke (You’d be surprised how few places do, especially in San Francisco!) but they brought it to him ice cold with an adorable Sparrows coozy!
I think I’ve written about Pomme Frites before. There are other French bistros but what I love about Pomme Frites is it doesn’t feel like a “French Bistro” it feels like an actual bistro in France.
I never actually get an entree. I get a collection of apps every time. The steamed artichoke. The baked brie. The petite salade. And the Oeuf Mayo.
Oeuf mayo is not something you see at most Americanized French bistros but it’s such a sacrosanct French starter, that there’s an order of knights that protects it.
I always thought it seemed a little weird. Then I read this
. So I got it at PF, finally, and it was incredible. It is all about execution. The egg perfectly cooked, and the handmade mayo was like a velvety custard. Hopefully one day soon, I’ll have one in Paris.
I took the kids back to San Francisco for an extravaganza of playdates with their old friends. Andrea and I went to Ernest, and guess what? Evie’s new BFF in Palm Springs is the nephew of the owner and chef!
We sat at the bar, devoured the tasting menu, had waaaaay too much food, and were delighted at dessert. Not just the soft serve with pralines and homemade magic shell…. but a BONUS concord grape Hawaiian ice. Can I tell you? The shaved ice was actually BETTER than the soft serve.
We grabbed to go cosmos at Wild Hawk on the way home to relieve the babysitter. Best cosmos in SF. (Yep, I’m drinking cosmos like it’s the 90s. It was my summer 2021 cocktail that’s flowed right into fall…)
Saturday, we took the kids and a few friends to Urban Putt. We were the first ones there and treated like absolute royalty. The food at Urban Putt isn’t the greatest, but the Froze sure is. And the service was incredible. Evie’s lion, Einstein, struck adorable poses at each hole, cheering us on. Einstein, Sir Scone, Scottish Kitten and a few mice all stowed away in various bags of mine back to Palm Springs.
Sunday we had a dozen folks over for a playdate. Evie was so excited she sat in the window for 20 minutes watching for cars. We had a minor flood in the bathroom. But aside from that, it was everything we hoped.
I am so grateful that I’m able to keep their home in SF, and we were able to pop up to see their friends. I’m so grateful for the incredible community of friends we have in both cities, how loved the kids are, how supported our family is.
We have an incredible life. I have incredible kids.
I am so exhausted though. I am rolling right into a board meeting on Tuesday, and I’m super behind on upcoming Chairman Mom courses. So I’m gonna have to find a way to plow through the week, and then collapse this coming weekend. I may not get out of bed for 48 hours.