CVIndependent

Mon08192019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

What: The meatloaf (Mondays only)

Where: Paul Bar/Food, 3700 E. Vista Chino, Palm Springs

How much: $17

Contact: 760-656-4082; paulbarps.com

Why: It’s great meatloaf, pure and simple.

When Paul Bar/Food opened a year ago, it became popular seemingly overnight due to the tasty eats, the amazing service (helmed by the bow tie-rocking Paul O’Halloran, a former Mister Lyons bartender who is adored in the Palm Springs service industry), the swanky East Coast vibe, the now-famous frozen sidecar, and the stunningly gorgeous wooden bar area—all found in a small shopping center, located at the northeast corner of Vista Chino and Gene Autry Trail, that is not exactly what you’d call “posh.”

Look for the sign that says BAR/FOOD. Find it, and you’ve found Paul.

O’Halloran could have rested on his figurative laurels … but he didn’t. In recent months, he’s worked to make the food at Paul even better—including daily specials, such as a soft-shell crab sandwich on Sundays, mussels on Saturdays, and pot roast (!) on Thursdays. I am sure all those specials are quite yummy … but I’d be stunned if any of them are as fantastic as the meatloaf, served with carrots and mashed potatoes, only on Mondays.

Now, I am not exactly a meatloaf aficionado. If a friend invites me over for a meatloaf dinner, I won’t say no … but if meatloaf shows up on a restaurant menu, the chances I’ll order it are between slim and non-existent. However, when I met my friend Eric at Paul for a happy-hour dinner on a recent Monday, the formally dressed bartender recommended the meatloaf with such passion that I couldn’t say no.

That passion was justified: The meatloaf was amazing. Its defining characteristic is that it’s, well, meaty. This is a dense yet juicy, perfectly seasoned, expertly prepared brick o’ meat.

The hubby is a meatloaf aficionado, and when I took him to Paul a couple of Mondays later for it, he agreed with my assessment—that this is some of the best meatloaf you’ll have anywhere.

Published in The Indy Endorsement

Sometimes, when you feel like you may have run out of inspiration, you have to go back to the beginning.

Allow me to explain myself.

I sometimes wonder how much of a cocktail scene there is left to cover in the Coachella Valley. Most of my “research trips” land me in yet another Moscow mule or margarita joint—one after another. Don’t get me wrong; these can be fine drinks when properly executed. In fact, these are perfectly sane choices for many establishments, whose clientele or menus warrant keeping things simple and refreshing … but as far as I am concerned, I don’t think anyone wants to read the musings of a Moscow mule correspondent.

After more than a few of these outings this month, I was feeling a little uninspired. (By the way: Shoot me a line if there is a bartender/program you think I should spotlight, especially if it’s in the valley outside of Palm Springs.) Then I remembered that there was a glaring hole in my coverage.

I have never truly written about Seymour’s, located inside Mr. Lyons at 233 E. Palm Canyon Drive. Yeah, I mentioned that I worked there, and shared a recipe or two, but I never really wrote about it; some sort of journalistic integrity prevented me from self-promoting columns. It’s only now, after at least six months of being back in Palm Springs, that it dawned on me that I never gave one of the top cocktail bars in Palm Springs its due. Now that I work elsewhere, I can finally do so.

In case you have ever wondered how this vodka-bashing Boston curmudgeon began terrorizing your local bar scene … let’s just say I was here on vacation from the San Diego suburbs, and yadda yadda yadda, I got offered a job as the first bartender at Seymour’s (following co-owner Steen Bojsen-Möller). The rest is history. The two of us rocked it behind the stick for a few months, trying to get people to walk into a steakhouse and go through the heavy velvet curtain to find us. Then Zane Tessay joined the team, and the three of us put up with caravans of people walking through and rubbing their hands on everything, saying, ‘Ooh, great space!’ … and not buying a darn drink. Let me tell you: Building a bar clientele in a place without a sign or an address ain’t easy. But we did it. It took lots of pretzels.

The reality is that a bar is more than drinks, and Seymour’s is a perfect example. It has a great back bar, a two-way mirror that hides a TV (campy ’80s movies and commercials are regular features), a spectacular patio setup and a hip playlist; Seymour’s could serve only vodka-sodas, and I would show up. The drinks are really tasty, though, with a wide range of both classics and originals.

The Little Owl—Steen’s mix of rye whiskey, walnut liqueur, amaro and IPA syrup (take IPA and boil it down; then add sugar; and … actually, don’t do it; it’ll stink up your house)—is a bartender’s after-work favorite. “Zane’s Avocado Drink” (it will never have another name to me) is a creamy, spa-ready mix of gin, mint, lime and, yes, avocado. Avocado isn’t your thing? Try the Ocotillo Blossom, a mix of bourbon, bell pepper and egg white. Steen’s Desert Yardarm (vodka, yellow chartreuse, basil, lemon and soda) and Chamo Car (chamomile-infused brandy, lemon and black-pepper honey) are guest favorites as well.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention “Gin N Jams,” the Wednesday night tradition with discounted gin drinks and rockin’ old vinyl on a classic turntable. Feel free to bring a record or three from your own collection.

Speaking of former co-workers and beautiful bars, there is now, finally, Paul. I had the pleasure of working with proprietor Paul O’Halloran at Mr. Lyons during my tenure at Seymour’s. On our nights behind the bar together, it was a rare combination of New York and Boston—one part Broadway, one part Fenway. I have known for some time that he and his husband (also named Paul) were opening a bar (with food!) of their own at the corner of Vista Chino and Gene Autry Trail—so it goes without saying that I have been waiting to see this place open.

I am thrilled with the results. This place has personality. The original back bar looks straight out of a movie; the fact that it was previously sitting unloved in an empty place is a sin. The walls are a tasteful dark hue, and there are subtle faux-Chinese touches appropriate to the address.

Despite Paul’s background, this ain’t no “craft cocktail” bar. Yes, the cocktails are certainly crafted, but don’t look for a list of drinks with clever names and occult ingredients. Come here for a properly made dry martini—like the one I had on my first visit, with the lavender-forward Dorothy Parker gin. This, of course, led to my quoting her famous quatrain regarding martinis … which after a little digging, I learned that she likely never wrote—but she did at least inspire it.

Drink anything you want here—as long as it’s a proper drink. Want a margarita to go with the guacamole and chips? De nada. A negroni with your homemade meatballs? Prego. Have a Manhattan with your steak frites, or Cosmopolitans to live out your Carrie Bradshaw moments. While I am sure a Last Word cocktail wouldn’t be a problem, please don’t ask for muddled lychee and cilantro.

When I asked Paul if he had anything he wanted to say, he thought for a second and said: “No more than two checks.” Bravo.

The sign outside just says “Bar/Food,” and the place is wedged between a carneceria and what appears to be some sort of cannabis operation. Paul may look like it’s closed. It’s not. Bring a photo of your pooch for the nascent “Wall of Dogs.” I realize this just sounded like something Stefon would tout on Saturday Night Live. Trust me, it’s a real place.

Forgive me if this whole piece seems like a cheap endorsement of my friends—but if you haven’t been to either of these places, you really should go check them out. I would gladly drink a Moscow mule in either bar. That’s high praise.

Kevin Carlow is a bartender at Truss and Twine, and can be reached via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Published in Cocktails

New: Temecula's Snow and Crab Expands to Bring Shaved Ice and Cajun Seafood to Palm Springs

I was driving south down Sunrise Way past Tahquitz Canyon Way when I saw the words on the south end of the building that houses the 99 Cents Only store: SNOW and CRAB.

Hmm. I was intrigued. I love crab, after all, and as for snow … well, I wasn’t sure about that. So, I decided to investigate.

Here’s what I found: Snow and Crab is a new-to-Palm Springs restaurant—the first one is in Temecula—and the “crab” part of the name refers to, well, crab, as well as other Cajun-style seafood on offer: snow crab legs, king crab legs, whole blue and Dungeness crabs, clams, mussels, wild-caught shrimp, catfish, and both fresh and fresh-frozen crawfish. Basically … you choose your catch; your flavor (Cajun, scampi, lemon pepper or full house); your spiciness level; and your extras, if desired (hot Louisiana smoked sausage, potatoes, sausage or corn on the cob). Soups, salads, sides, appetizers and several “chef’s specialties,” as well as desserts, fill out the menu. Yum.

As for “snow” … that refers to the shaved ice concoctions available, like the “Let It Snow”: milky shaved ice topped with marshmallow and shredded coconut. Boba smoothies, flavored teas and other specialty drinks may also be ordered.

I decided Snow and Crab warranted some in-person investigation, so I dropped in for a recent lunch. I am dealing with an injured-but-healing left arm, so I decided to save the more hands-on seafood for another time, and instead ordered a “chef’s specialty,” the fried catfish tray with fries ($12), along with the garlic-bread appetizer ($3). Both were tasty—and the amount of catfish and fresh-cut large fries was substantial enough that I could have made two meals out of it. (I said “could have.” Hey, I was hungry.)

The person who helped me during my mid-April visit said Snow and Crab is still in its soft-opening phase, so menu tweaks and additions are possible.

Snow and Crab looks like an exciting, unique addition to the area food scene. It’s located at 186 S. Sunrise Way, in Palm Springs. For more information, call 760-218-6056, or visit www.snowandcrab.com.


In Brief

A new restaurant has opened at the Palm Springs Art Museum. Persimmon Bistro comes from Candice Held and Tristan Gittens, the owners of Palm Springs’ Frankinbun; according to a news release, Persimmon serves “rustic, eclectic cuisine with a twist in a unique café setting on the edge of the museum’s sculpture garden … combining fantastical wallpaper design and chic comfort food.” The “jungle to table” restaurant serves coffee, tea, cold-pressed juices, smoothies, salads, soups and sandwiches, as well as a few “delicacies” like charcuterie and French desserts. Persimmon Bistro is open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day but Wednesday at 101 N. Museum Drive, in Palm Springs; visit www.persimmonbistro.com for details. … A couple of Facebook friends have been singing the praises of a brand-new place—and by “brand new,” we mean “opened on April 14”—at 3700 E. Vista Chino, at Gene Autry Trail, in Palm Springs. It’s called Paul, and the place serves food and great drinks, often served by someone named Paul, starting at 4 p.m. every day but Tuesday. That’s all we know for now; watch www.facebook.com/PaulPalmSprings for more details. … If you like either Lucha Libre wrestling or tacos—and if you don’t like at least one of those two things, something’s very wrong with you—head to Morongo Casino Resort Spa, at 49500 Seminole Drive, in Cabazon, on Saturday, May 19, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the second annual Morongo Taco Fest. More than two-dozen SoCal taco-makers will be present selling $2 tacos, while music, tequila-tastings, a hot-pepper-eating contest and a “Tiny Taco Dog Beauty Pageant” (!) takes place. Admission is $10; get more details and tickets at www.morongocasinoresort.com. … A brand-new—and gorgeous—Koffi has opened in Kaptur Plaza, located at 650 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, in downtown Palm Springs. This is the fourth Koffi location—three of which are in Palm Springs, with the fourth in Rancho Mirage. More info at www.kofficoffee.com. … Now open at The River, at 71800 Highway 111, Suite A116, in Rancho Mirage: MidiCi, The Neapolitan Pizza Company, a national chain restaurant serving food made with “mostly non-GMO” ingredients, along with beer and wine. More info at www.mymidici.com. … Coming soon to downtown Palm Springs: a new La Quinta Brewing Co. Taproom, at 301 N. Palm Canyon Drive, across from the Hyatt and beneath Café Europa/JusTapas. Watch www.facebook.com/LQBCPalmSpringsTaproom for updates.

Published in Restaurant & Food News