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Restaurants & Bars 3

Cicada and Ruth's Chris Palm Desert - longish review

quiz wrangler | Mar 29, 200408:24 PM

Had an overindulgent art deco weekend, beginning with our first visit to Cicada downtown to celebrate Meg shooting her first 80. What a gorgeous art deco room, a visual treat, studded with comfortable tables with lots of space to move around between them. Our party of 5 arrived without reservations just before 9:00 and we were seated in 5 minutes. Though I wouldn't call the room quiet, our conversation was easily heard. Our waiter immediately asked if we would like sparking, flat or tap water and brought us the requested wine list. Henry ordered a 1990 Marchesa Barolo and a Zinfandel whose winery and vintage escape me.

We had: foie gras with mango slices, delicious though the sauce may have been a trifle too sweet for some; tuna carpaccio with caviar, which got two sets of raves; crab cakes; a magnificent shrimp with tagliatelle, gnocci with shitake mushrooms; Ravioli with duck and shitake, lamb shanks. All of the pastas were outstanding, but we didn't try much in the way of entrees.

For dessert we had apple tart and profiteroles, which were good, but not great.

Service was both friendly and highly professional with a good, almost leisurely pacing between courses. Our waiter (Carson, I believe) was great with wine service. When another waiter brought a second set of glasses for our second red, Carson frowned and said that the second service was too similar to the first and sent the waiter back for taller stems so that we wouldn't confuse the two. He also offered to decant the Barolo. (The Barolo started out beautifully, but alas, faded away before the night was done. The nameless Zin was excellent.)

Next night we were off to Ruth's Chris in the desert. We were here once before, but in the old location. The new room sports an impressive art nouveau/art deco decor, though not nearly as old (nouveau art deco?) as the classic building that houses Cicada. And was it packed on Saturday night! We had an 8:30 reservation and waited about 15 minutes for a table. Service was brisk and able once we were thankfully released from the corner of an impossibly crowded lounge, and a sweet but rather immature host("What? You left your wine with the front desk? What did it look like? I'll, like, go look for it"). We sat in a side room with high ceilings and Frank Lloyd Wright-type windows. Though small, it was still a bit noisy.

Steve had the T-bone, which he pronounced excellent. Darrell was less impressed with the ribeye. I had the petite filet. Usually I prefer the texture of the NY, but this filet was delicious and arrived VERY rare, as ordered, thank you! The mash and creamed spinach were butter-laden treats and the apple and crumble tart for dessert was huge and yummy. The only thing I didn't like was the shoestring potatoes, which were cooked too well for fries cut so narrow.

617 South Olive, Los Angeles
(213) 488-9951

Ruth's Chris
74-740 Highway 111
Palm Desert, CA 92260
Phone : (760) 779-1998

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