CVIndependent

Tue06182019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

What: The Chicken Caprese

Where: Cello’s, 35943 Date Palm Drive, Cathedral City

How much: $18 for lunch; $20 for dinner

Contact: 760-328-5353; www.cellosbistro.com

Why: It’s subtly delicious.

The word “delicious” is surprisingly versatile. Most people use “delicious” to refer to yummy food, but didja know that the first definition of the word in the Merriam-Webster dictionary is simply “affording great pleasure”?

Of course, the second definition relates a little more specifically to food—“appealing to one of the bodily senses, especially of taste or smell,” to be exact—but regarding the word’s versatility, think about how many different foods you consider “delicious.” Some delicious foods figuratively smack you over the head with flavor; others are subtle, yet nonetheless incredibly enjoyable.

This brings us to the signature dish at Cello’s, a delightful restaurant tucked into a strip mall at Date Palm and Gerald Ford drives in Cathedral City. The chicken Caprese is not a plate that will smack you over the head with flavor—but it will indeed offer you great pleasure.

The dish is a symphony of mild flavors. The “lightly breaded” chicken breast is juicy and tender—almost schnitzel-like. The yellow and red cherry tomatoes are fresh, firm and slightly sweet. The mozzarella is smooth with just a hint of salt. Add in an ample amount of basil and olive oil, and the dish is set.

The result is an entrée that’s greater than the sum of its parts. No flavors dominate, but they all make their presence known. There are no big taste crescendos—just a perfect, harmonious, subtle melody.

If you’re looking for something that will knock your taste buds around, try something else. But if you want something fresh, filling and subtly splendid, we heartily endorse the chicken Caprese. It truly is delicious—in every sense of the word. 

Published in The Indy Endorsement

What: Chicken stroganoff

Where: Picanha Churrascaria, 68510 Highway 111, Cathedral City

How much: Included in the $23.95 to $27.95 all-you-can-eat price (depending on day of the week); call to confirm the stroganoff is being offered

Contact info: 328-1818; www.picanharestaurant.com

Why: Because it's sweet with a zing.

If you're into the Atkins diet, or just seriously into meat, Brazilian churrascaria is definitely on the menu. What could be better than having all sorts of meats on skewers brought to your table?

I've eaten at different Brazilian churrascarias all over the country, and at every single one of them, the salad bar/buffet section is generally ignored. The point is the meat, right? Who cares about vegetables and other non-meat offerings?

However, Picanha usually has a gem hiding in their buffet: the chicken stroganoff. I've enjoyed this dish many times at Picanha, although it was not available on my last trip there (before my recent visit), which took place a year or so ago. And while Picanha's off-season closure last year mysteriously lingered longer than planned (the restaurant did not reopen until mid-November), I was afraid that I'd never get to enjoy the stroganoff again. However, the stroganoff was there during the aforementioned recent visit to Picanha, and all was right with the world.

The sauce has a light, creamy tomato base, and is sweet—but has a zing to it. The stroganoff also has big chunks of chicken in it (continuing the mega-meat experience) as well as mushrooms. But it's really all about the sauce, and that sweet-with-a-zing taste is more than slightly addictive. You might find yourself dredging your formerly skewered meats through the leftover sauce.

The stroganoff works well when spread over rice—which won't work well if you're on Atkins. But try it anyway. We won't tell.

Published in The Indy Endorsement

What: The carne asada tacos

Where: Casa Blanca Restaurant, 35850 Date Palm Drive, Suite A, Cathedral City; 66370 Pierson Blvd., Desert Hot Springs

How much: $7.49 (for three, with rice and beans) as a weekday lunch special; $1.99 a la carte; available in other special combos

Contact info: 328-2150 (Cathedral City); 251-5922 (Desert Hot Springs); www.casablancamenu.com

Why: The little pieces of steak are perfectly seasoned and prepared.

I've driven past the Casa Blanca Restaurant in Cathedral City many dozens of times (a good friend lives just around the corner), but I never stopped in—until recently.

Boy, have I been missing out.

I was in the area on business during the noon hour, and hunger was a-callin', so I decided to stop in for a quick bite. Other than one other occupied table, I had the restaurant to myself. Since I'd never been to Casa Blanca before, I asked the server what she recommended. She said that everything is good (don't they always say that?), and she recommended one of the weekday lunch specials. So, I picked the No. 1: three soft tacos with any available meat (I chose carne asada), plus rice and beans, for $7.49.

I somewhat sated my hunger by chowing down on the chips and salsa, but soon enough, the tacos you see above arrived at my table. They were pure simplicity—just tortilla, steak, white onion and cilantro. I added a bit of the tasty-but-could-be-spicier salsa to one taco, picked it up and bit in.

Yum.

Having lived in Southern Arizona for a decade, and having a love for good Mexican food, I have sampled many carne asada tacos in my time—and these are among the best I've ever had. The key is in the steak: It was seasoned perfectly, with the seasonings complementing the meat, not overwhelming it. Further, the little pieces were just the right size—small enough to pick up a lot of char, but big enough to retain inner softness and juiciness, without any extreme chewiness.

How's the rest of the food at Casa Blanca (which, in addition to the Cathedral City location, has its original location in Desert Hot Springs)? I can't tell you. And I won't be able to tell you after my next visit, either, because I am ordering these tacos again.

Published in The Indy Endorsement

What: The Steve Special sushi roll, enjoyed as part of all-you-can-eat sushi

Where: Edokko Sushi, 69195 Ramon Road, Cathedral City

How much: $19.95 lunch, $23.99 dinner

Contact info: 328-7770; edokkosushicc.com

Why: Because you're hungry, and you looooove tasty sushi rolls

Look, Edokko Sushi ain't Nobu: You are not going to get fresh-off-the-boat toro here. Of course, you're not going to be shelling out $35 for a tiny portion of fish, either.

Instead, you are going to get a decent-enough selection of 30 or so rolls, 16 or so sushi options, and some appetizers (miso soup, gyoza, etc.), as much as you can shove down your gullet, for $19.99 at lunch, or $23.99 at dinner.

Indulgent? Maybe. Gluttonous? Perhaps? A smokin' deal? Absolutely.

The sushi pieces are just fine, but the real reason you will want to check out Edokko is for the sushi rolls: They're tasty, and they come to you fast when the sushi chefs are on their game (which they generally are). The one we most heartily endorse is the "Steve Special" roll—it's the first one on the list—which is quite simple, really: It's a California roll, topped with deep-fried shrimp and a tangy mayonnaise sauce. In an word, it's yummy.

If you're hankering for all-you-can-eat sushi, but you're weighed down by more moderate eaters, never fear: Edokko Sushi also offers an a la carte menu.

But you don't want that. You want all-you-can-eat. And you should start off with the Steve Special roll. 

Published in The Indy Endorsement

What: Yum nua (Thai beef salad)

Where: Thai Kitchen, 67555 E Palm Canyon Drive, No. A105, Cathedral City

How much: $9.95

Contact info: 321-8424

Why: Because it provides a nice combination of flavors, textures and temperatures—with just the right amount of kick!

I've been pretty narrow-minded about Thai food in the past; pad Thai and fried rice have been my normal go-to dishes when dining at Thai restaurants.

Recently, I've been trying to manage my weight and make better choices about what I eat—and I figured that Thai restaurants would be off my list entirely. However, my best friend suggested that I try a Thai beef salad, and I've become quite attached to them.

On a recent visit to Thai Kitchen in Cathedral City, I ordered the Thai beef salad you see pictured above. It was not a huge portion, but it was quite enough for lunch. It's a wonderful combination of warm grilled beef and onions, combined with the cool lettuce and tomatoes, all wrapped up in a spicy, vinegar-based Thai dressing.

There are a veritable ton of Thai joints in the valley—but if you're looking for a tasty Thai beef salad, stop in at Thai Kitchen on your next jaunt down Highway 111.

Published in The Indy Endorsement

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