CVIndependent

Wed01172018

Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

Jimmy Boegle

What: The Strawberry Banana Crepes

Where: Sloan’s Restaurant, 81539 Highway 111, Indio

How much: $13.29

Contact: 760-347-3923; www.sloansrestaurant.com

Why: The high-quality ingredients make all of the sweetness work.

While have quite a healthy sweet tooth when it comes to desserts, I usually prefer savory breakfasts and brunches, for reasons I’ve discussed in this space before

But on rare occasions, my sweet tooth makes its presence known during breakfast—and this was the case during a recent meal at Sloan’s in Indio. Therefore, I ordered one of the house specialties, the strawberry banana crepes.

All I can say is … wow.

Talk about sweet (and I mean this in a good way): Not only does the dish feature bananas and strawberries and strawberry glaze and powdered sugar; then it’s topped with either whipped cream or vanilla ice cream! (The version I enjoyed, shown here, had both whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.)

A dish with this amount of almost exclusively sweet ingredients could become a sugar-infused disaster if either the dish were not prepared right, or if the ingredients used were subpar. Thankfully, Sloan’s has been around in one form or another for decades (it was an Elmer’s before it was called Sloan’s), so they know what they’re doing here—and everything on the gorgeous plate was perfect, from the ripe yet firm banana slices to the flavorful fresh strawberries to the splendid crepe.

If sweet isn’t your thing, however, Sloan’s offers plenty of great food, for breakfast, lunch and dinner—and you can even enjoy a cocktail from the cozy lounge. As one small example, my friend and dining companion V.J. ordered liver and onions, and she had nothing but raves for the dish.

Sloan’s has been an Indio mainstay for a long time—and there are many good reasons for that.

What: The Buttermilk Pie

Where: Billy Reed’s, 1800 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

How much: $5.25

Contact: 760.325.1946; www.billyreedspalmsprings.com

Why: It’s the epitome of a perfectly rich dessert.

During my first four years of residence in the Coachella Valley, I somehow never dined at Billy Reed’s, the old-school restaurant mainstay in Palm Springs.

About a year or so ago, I finally righted this culinary wrong—and instantly fell in love with the place, with its traditional American menu, its stained-glass bar décor and its reasonable prices.

Lately, I’ve been falling in love with another aspect of Billy Reed’s: Its amazing selection of yummy, house-made desserts.

On one recent visit, I was in the mood for pie, and this description of the buttermilk pie caught my eye: “Lemony with a vanilla undertone. Mysterious, a sweet tooth’s fantasy, hold on to yours, all of them.”

I was intrigued. So what if that description—particularly that second not-really-a-sentence—makes no sense it all? I ordered a piece.

Let me tell you: That description does not do this pie justice.

It’s not much to look at, but, man, a piece of this pie is something to behold once you take a bite of it. The custard-y filling is a little tart, a little creamy, and a whole lot sweet: This is one of the richest pies you’ll find in our valley’s dessert cases. It approaches and tiptoes incredibly close to the “too sweet” precipice—but never quite gets there. Even though “buttermilk” is in the name and is one of the primary ingredients, you’d have no idea it’s there based on the flavor—unless your taste buds are really paying attention.

These days, a Billy Reed’s visit with clam chowder, prime rib and a meal-concluding piece of buttermilk pie is one of my favorite meals to enjoy in the entire Coachella Valley. It’s so, so good.

The turn of the calendar from 2017 to 2018 Coachella Valley Independent means we’re kicking off our sixth year of honest, ethical local journalism ’round these parts.

Our first five years have been incredible in many ways. While the Independent has its imperfections and limitations—as do all publications—it has become a part of the fiber of the Coachella Valley, through (so far) 54 print editions and more than 4,200 stories posted here at CVIndependent.com. We’ve won two national journalism awards, honored hundreds of businesses and organizations via four Best of Coachella Valley readers’ polls, and raised many thousands of dollars for local causes through benefit concerts and Palm Springs Craft Cocktail Week—which, by the way, is celebrating its second edition come January 19-27. (See more info at PSCraftCocktails.com or in the January print edition.)

However … as a member of the media, these five years have been incredibly difficult.

If you’d have told me when we launched the Independent that we’d be soldiering on after the closures of the San Francisco Bay Guardian, The Boston Phoenix, the Baltimore City Paper, the Philadelphia City Paper, Las Vegas CityLife and several other venerable alternative newspapers, I’d be stunned. If you’d have told me back then we’d still be publishing a successful print edition after The Village Voice and the Houston Press went online-only, I’d be shocked. If you told me in late 2012/early 2013 the Independent would enter 2018 with a future more secure than that of the LA Weekly, the OC Weekly, the Washington City Paper and the Nashville Scene, I’d probably cry.

And if you’d have told me I’d be publishing a newspaper at a time when the president of the United States actually referred to the media as the enemy of the American people, I’d tell you that was simply not possible.

Yet as we begin 2018, this is where we are.

I say all of this to make a plea I’ve made many times before in this space: Please, please support honest, ethical local media, here and wherever else you may go. We need reader and advertiser support (plus readers supporting our advertisers) now more than ever if we’re going to continue to shine a mirror on our local communities. Please. As for us here at the Independent, find more information at CVIndependent.com/Supporters.

With that exhortation, I thank you for reading, as always. See you at one of our fantastic Cocktail Week venues later in January—and be sure to pick up the January print edition, hitting newsstands this week.

Rancho Mirage’s Fox and Fiddle to Morph Into Dringk Eatery + Bar

The Fox and Fiddle is going out with 2017 … and in its place, 2018 will bring Dringk Eatery + Bar.

The Fox and Fiddle opened in February 2017 at The River, at 71800 Highway 111, in Rancho Mirage, and was touted as one of the valley’s only English-style pubs. It also brought with it some name recognition, seeing as there are Fox and Fiddle pubs in Canada—and, of course, many Canadian snowbirds winter in the Coachella Valley.

However, some 10 months later, the English-pub concept was to be no more, as of the close of business on Saturday, Dec. 23. On New Year’s Eve, Dringk—with the same owners—was slated to be born.

What, exactly, is Dringk? Its shtick, according to the website, is centered on $5 drinks, with food being offered at $5, $10 and $15 price points.

Wait, what? $5 drinks? Like, all the time? “Yes, you can drink mules, beers, margaritas (and) Dringk cocktails for $5 all day long,” the website says, before going on to insist that all drinks will have a minimum of a 1.5-ounce pour.

As for the eats: “Our food is high-quality and sourced to be from the best without added junk,” the website says. “Our hamburger meat is the top we could find; breads (are) made from a locally sourced baker; and when possible, we serve organic and GMO-free. We want you to love our food and trust we put the effort in to make sure we are providing you with tasty dishes that will have you coming back for more.”

For more information on Dringk, call 760-888-0111, or watch that aforementioned website, dringkbar.com.


So Long, Bar: The Palm Springs Restaurant and Watering Hole Closes Its Doors

Bar—the charming bar, restaurant and music venue known for its fantastic drinks and provocative murals at 340 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs—closed its doors for good on Saturday, Dec. 2.

While the closure was heartbreaking to many (including yours truly; Bar was one of my personal favorites, thanks in part to Bar having the best damn whiskey sour in the valley), it was no surprise: The owners had known the end was near for a good year and a half, as the landlord has been making plans to tear down the building, apparently to build yet another new hotel in downtown Palm Springs.

Bar was owned by the Funkey family, the members of which are certainly keeping themselves busy: In addition to running Smoke Tree BBQ and Giuseppes in Palm Springs, they recently switched their Palm Desert space, at 73850 Highway 111, from a Smoke Tree into a Giuseppes. Watch giuseppesps.com for updates on that.

Meanwhile … if you know of a place ’round these parts that makes an amazing whiskey sour, drop me a line.


In Brief

New to Cathedral City: Restaurant and Pupuseria Claudia, located at 68100 Ramon Road, at the intersection of Landau Boulevard. The place serves a variety of pupusas—a Salvadoran dish featuring thick corn tortillas stuffed with various ingredients—as well as another half-dozen-plus dishes. I tried to stop in and check it out for lunch one recent day, but the place was closed without explanation. Yeah, this is something that understandably happens at small, family-owned places from time to time—but I was disappointed nonetheless. I’ll check it out again here soon—but I’ll call 760-534-0594 before I go just to be safe. … New to the northern portion of Palm Springs: 4 Paws Coffee Co., located at 2500 N. Palm Canyon Drive. The pet-friendly place opened in early November, and serves coffee, tea, sandwiches and the like. (An aside: It’s exciting to see this long-decrepit shopping center, at the intersection of Racquet Club Road, being revitalized with the addition of new tenants including 4 Paws, the Escape Room Palm Springs and Venezia Restaurant and Pizzeria.) For more info on 4 Paws, type www.facebook.com/4pawscoffeeco into your Internet browser of choice. … New to the Miramonte Indian Wells Resort and Spa, located at 45000 Indian Wells Lane in—you guessed it!—Indian Wells: Citrus and Palm. The revamped resort restaurant has a self-described “farm-to-fork aesthetic.” Executive chef Paul Hancock is “(featuring) fresh local cuisine that is both healthy and delicious … utilizing items grown on property as well as sourced from local farm partners,” according to the restaurant website. Want more info? Head to that very website at www.citrusandpalmrestaurant.com.

What: The queso y frijoles pupusa

Where: El Salvador Café, 1751 N. Sunrise Way, #F2

How much: $2.95

Contact: 760-322-3778

Why: It’s stunningly simple but flavorful.

We were bummed out. The front end of my car had been smooshed up in an accident a couple of days prior, and we were on our way to an auto-body shop for an insurance-mandated damage assessment.

But first … we needed a tasty lunch—and, if possible, a good cheer-up. Thankfully, El Salvador Café was able to provide us with both.

I’d been craving pupusas—thick corn tortillas stuffed with some sort of filling—after seeing them on a travel-food show recently, so in addition to the plato de antojitos ($11.50, including plantains, meat cakes, a bean and cheese pupusa and a Salvadoran-style enchilada), we also ordered a steak and cheese pupusa ($3.95) and a shrimp and cheese pupusa ($3.95).

Both the steak and shrimp pupusas were good, as were the plantains, meat cakes and the Salvadoran-style enchilada (which is something akin to a Mexican tostada). However—much to our surprise—the favorite thing we had was the bean-and-cheese pupusa.

It doesn’t get much simpler than beans, cheese and tortillas—but simple, in this case, meant delicious. I’ll be honest: I am not sure why the bean pupusa rang our figurative bells while the steak and shrimp pupusas didn’t quite reach that level (even though they were both enjoyable). My best guess is that the flavor of the earthy, savory beans just melded better with the subtle sweetness of the corn tortillas and the creaminess of the cheese.

But really … it doesn’t matter why they were so fantastic. Thanks in large part to the bean-and-cheese pupusa, we left El Salvador Café with happy taste buds, a full tummy and decidedly better dispositions—that’s what matters.

What: The Chorizo Taco

Where: Tacos El Poblano, 68100 Ramon Road, Cathedral City

How much: $1.49; $1 on Tuesday and Thursday

Contact: 760-534-0446; www.facebook.com/tacoscemitaselpoblano

Why: It’s a few bites of deliciousness.

It was the noon hour. I was hungry, so I headed to a restaurant I’d heard good things about, located in the shopping center at the northeast corner of Ramon Road and Landau Boulevard.

I went to the door, saw an “open daily 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. sign,” pulled the handle … and the door was locked. For some unannounced and undisclosed reason, the restaurant was closed, no matter what that sign said.

As I drove through the shopping center to make my departure, I passed by Tacos El Poblano—and spotted a sign touting $1 tacos on Tuesday and Thursday. It just so happened to be a Tuesday.

Dollar tacos? Yes, please.

I walked in, ordered four tacos—one each with chicken, pastor, steak and chorizo— at the window, got the tacos, paid for them, got some salsa from the salsa bar, and sat down.

I wish I could tell you that all of the tacos knocked my figurative socks off … but that was not the case. Frankly, three of the four tacos were merely OK: The chicken, pastor and asada tacos were decent, but not as flavorful as tacos I’ve had at other places. I can’t say I’d order any of them again, despite the thrifty $1 price tag.

However, the chorizo taco was delicious—and not too oily, which can be a problem with some versions. With a squeeze of lime and just a hint of the house medium salsa, the taco was pretty damn near perfect.

I would order that chorizo taco again in a heartbeat. In fact, I’d probably order about six of them.

As you probably know by now, the results of our fourth annual Best of Coachella Valley readers’ poll were released earlier this week.

This marks the culmination of a process that started back in August, when Round One voting began. We asked you, our readers, to tell us what your area favorites are, via an open ballot—with no pre-selected finalists or recommendations. We compiled all of those results to determine the slate of Best of Coachella Valley finalists, and then launched the Final Round of voting.

I’d like to thank Brian Blueskye, Mark Duebner and Robyn Tanzer, all of whom put a lot of work into the corresponding December print edition—and all of us at the Independent would like to thank you, the readers, for taking the time to vote in the Best of Coachella Valley.

Other local publications also do “Best Of” readers’ polls … but these Best of Coachella Valley results, while certainly far from perfect, offer a truer sense of what is really the best of the Coachella Valley. Why? We ask readers to vote only once per round—as opposed to some of these other publications’ polls, which encourage readers to vote multiple times. While allowing people to vote multiple times brings those publications’ websites more traffic, it also makes those polls more susceptible to skewed results. We here at the Independent would rather have a truer, more accurate slate of winners and finalists than a temporary bump in website traffic.

I hope you’ll joinus at The Hood Bar and Pizza (the Best Dive Bar winner!), at 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert, on Friday, Dec. 15, for annual Best of Coachella Valley Awards Show and Party. We’ll start the awards at 6:30 p.m. sharp; all of the winners who are there will be invited up to accept their awards and say a few words. After the awards, your pick for Best Local Band, The Flusters, will take the stage. The Hood and the Independent will then continue the great music, with sets from Black Water Gospel, Sunday Funeral and Herbert. It’ll truly be a great night as we gather to celebrate the best the Coachella Valley has to offer.

As always, thanks for reading; if you have any comments or questions, don’t hesitate to send me a note to the email address below. Oh, and be sure to pick up our December 2017 print edition, being distributed this week to more than 380 locations valley-wide.

Grand Central to Open Soon … Hopefully? … in Palm Springs’ La Plaza Center

More than a year ago, local foodies were all abuzz about the anticipated opening of Grand Central Palm Springs, a restaurant and event space in the historic La Plaza Center in downtown Palm Springs.

In early August 2016, Grand Central hosted a job fair; the restaurant’s Facebook page reported that 200 people had applied for jobs in person, with another 90 applications coming in online. Other posts teased menu items for the restaurant, which was going to feature American food, a coffee bar and cocktails. It seemed that Grand Central’s opening was imminent.

And then … nothing happened, at least publicly. More than 14 months went by with nary a peep on Grand Central’s fate.

Fearing Grand Central had been scrapped, I decided to try to find out what was going on. I sent a message via Grand Central’s Facebook page—and was relieved when Rita Capponi, a partner in the project, called me and assured me that Grand Central was still happening. In fact, she said it would likely open sometime in January, if not before.

“We are so close to the finish line,” she said.

So … what was the huge and apparently unexpected delay all about? Capponi said the owners greatly underestimated what it would take to get the building—built in 1936, and unoccupied for a decade—ready for business.

“We’ve been laying low, because bringing a 1936 building up to 2017 building code—well, it’s been an adventure,” she said with a weary laugh.

Capponi said what she hoped would be the “final inspections” would take place around early December. She also said she’s been buoyed by the support people have offered the Grand Central Team.

“People have been stopping by and saying, ‘We’re really rooting for you. We’re waiting for you,’” she said.

Keep your fingers crossed, and watch www.grandcentralpalmsprings.com for more information.


Agua Caliente Names Leanne Kamekona as the New Executive Chef

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has named Leanne Kamekona as its new executive chef. She oversees all of the restaurants at the resort, located at 32250 Bob Hope Drive, in Rancho Mirage.

Kamekona, according to a news release, first became smitten with the food business while working in a family-owned grocery store in her native Hawaii. She went on to graduate from the University of Hawaii, and has thus far enjoyed a career in the food/resort world spanning more than two decades.

Since arriving at Agua Caliente, she’s revamped the menu at the Waters Café, adding items ranging from a classic chicken pot pie, to a lobster roll, to saimin, a Hawaiian noodle soup featuring Portuguese sausage and fishcake in a dashi broth.

“The Hawaiian way of life continues to infuse the menus I develop with unique culinary experiences, while incorporating in the flavors that are distinctive to our Southern California location in Rancho Mirage,” Kamekona said in the type of quote that could only be found in a press release.

For more information, visit www.hotwatercasino.com.


In Brief

Just in case you’ve been living under a rock and somehow missed all the fanfare: The Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs has finally opened its doors at 100 W. Tahquitz Canyon Way. That means its two restaurants—4 Saints, the much-anticipated rooftop space, and Juniper Table, offering Mediterranean-inspired fare—are open, too. Get all the details you need at kimptonhotels.com. … Also now open on the same block: The fancy-schmancy Starbucks Reserve. … Down in Rancho Mirage, The River shopping center, at 71800 Highway 111, has welcomed the new Coachella Winery. The wine bar offers both bottles and glasses of wine at a variety of price points, as well as food including pizzas, salads, appetizers, piadina (Italian flatbread sandwiches) and a variety of bar snacks and appetizers. You’ll find menus and more info at www.coachellawinery.com. … Coming soon to Indio: Heirloom Craft Kitchen, at 49990 Jefferson St. It’s a new place by Andie Hubka, the owner of the much-loved Cork and Fork in La Quinta, and it’ll offer “craft sandwiches,” “crafted salads” and entrées like buttermilk fried chicken and grilled wild salmon. Oh, and then there are the sides … including truffle tots. Wow! Watch heirloomcraftkitchen.com for updates. … Mark your calendars: The 11th annual Desert Woman’s Show is coming to the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 13 and 14. The show includes Taste of the Valley, which will feature food and drink from nearly two dozen area restaurants and vendors. Tickets are $15 in advance; head to www.desertwomansshow.com/taste-of-the-valley to get ’em and learn more.

What: The Tillamook cheddar beer soup

Where: Ein Brathaus, 117 La Plaza, Palm Springs

How much: $5.95 for a bowl; $4.50 for a cup

Contact: 760-300-3601; www.einbrathaus.com

Why: It’ll warm you up and please your taste buds.

On Ein Brathaus’ menu, next to the listing for the Tillamook cheddar beer soup, it says—rather adorably—“seasonal item.”

The calendar says it is late fall, with winter just around the corner. But we live in the Coachella Valley, and to nobody’s surprise, it was damn near 90 degrees outside as I enjoyed this “seasonal item” at Ein Brathaus.

Yes, a warm, hearty soup has a definite utility when the weather outside is frightful—and the odds are decent that we will, at some point, have a coldish day or three here soon ’round these parts. When those days are here, I suggest that you waste no time in getting to Ein Brathaus, located in the newly renovated space that formerly was home to Delicatesse in downtown Palm Springs’ La Plaza.

Not only will this cheese-beer soup warm you up; it’ll elate your taste buds. It’s everything a soup like this should be: rich and creamy, with a ton of flavor thanks to the beer and seasonings. It’s not too salty; it’s juuuust right. The soup can also, as our friendly server pointed out, make a great dip for Ein Brathaus’ soft pretzels ($4.50). I’ll take that a step further and say that it’d serve as a great dip for everything on the menu (including various German sausages, hot dogs, a pastrami sandwich, a buffalo chicken sandwich, etc.), except for perhaps the desserts and the buttermilk waffles. (Upon further reflection, I am not ruling out the waffles, either.)

This soup is so delicious that I’ll eat it whether the temp is 40 degrees Fahrenheit, or 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). Perhaps the good folks at Ein Brathaus will consider making it a soup for all seasons.

What: The Pesto Chicken Ranch Club at TKB Bakery

Where: TKB Bakery and Deli, 44911 Golf Center Parkway, Indio

How much: $10.99

Contact: 760-775-8330; www.tkbbakery.com

Why: It’s delicious, pure and simple.

TKB Bakery is one of the five best-rated restaurants in the United States.

This is not hyperbole; it’s fact, according to the granddaddy website of crowd-sourced reviews, Yelp—and while Yelp reviews are about as trustworthy as Sean Hannity on Quaaludes, it says a lot that TKB has been one of Yelp’s Top 5-rated restaurants now for three years in a row. No other restaurant in the whole U.S. of A. can say that.

I recently visited TKB—a family-owned affair tucked into an Indio industrial park not too far off of Interstate 10—for the first time, and I can now say I completely understand why TKB has received such crowd-sourced acclaim. The counter service is friendly (and brand-new customers get a free cookie!). The vibe is decidedly fun. And the sandwich I had—the pesto chicken ranch club—was downright spectacular.

You may pay more for a sandwich at TKB than you would at other fine sandwich joints, but the $10.99 I shelled out for my sandwich was worth every penny. The pesto was amazing; the fresh Parmesan roll was revelatory; and the chicken was moist and flavorful. The complementary ingredients—provolone, bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato and onion, along with mustard, mayo and ranch dressing—were all top-notch … and that free cookie? It was the best peanut-butter cookie I’ve ever eaten.

TKB has been around for a while; there used to be several other valley locations which became victims of the Great Recession. Right now, there’s just one TKB (it stands for “The Kids’ Business, by the way), located in the middle of nowhere—and if you love great sandwiches and baked goods, you need to seek it out. It’s one of the country’s top-rated places to eat for a lot of damn good reasons.

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