Palm Springs Report
I will start this by saying that during our trip, I realized how truly spoiled I am to live in Portland.
First some general comments.... restaurant food in Palm Springs is pretty expensive and mostly not well executed and some of their attempts are ludicrious.... sushi in the mojave? (we knew better than to try it). Also for a tourist town, holiday options are slim pickings.
Now onto the places we tried....
"More than a Mouthful" for breakfast was slow service, mediocre food. The place was not at all crowded when we got there and yet it took too long for anyone to bring us water or ask about coffee or take our orders. We both ordered a scramble with cheddar, bacon, and avacado. The eggs were pretty wet. I can tolerate that more than dining partner but the consistency was definitely off. The breakfast potatoes had been boiled and maybe touched a grill for all of 10 seconds. Not good. For their prices, I would expect something better than plastic tabs of Smucker's jam for the toast.
We had dinner at Europa. This was definitely our low experience. Dining partner ended up sick. This was a terrible value. Dining partner ordered escargot. They were terrible and a rip-off. There were four puff pastries with a bit of snail in between mushroom bits. What a cheap trick. She got a terrible veal dish. I got a Ceasar salad. It was small and I can think of 3 places in Portland that do a better Ceasar larger for cheaper. I really hated the mustard in the dressing. I had a filet in a disgusting wine sauce, lay off the thickener already. The meat was a large portion but pretty tough. We each had splits of champagne. Desserts looked disappointing so we passed. Service was friendly but not particularly professional. Cost for both of us with taxes without tip $105.
We had two breakfasts at Sherman's Deli. I didn't grow up in NYC but dining partner did and liked the place. Basically it was good food. And the size of the ham steak on my plate for my second breakfast was mind blowing (big). I didn't mind paying their prices. We also got deli sandwiches to go for our travel home dinners. What an amazing amount of meat (hard salami for me and roast beef for her) they put on the bread.
The meal I liked the most was at Le Vallauris Restaurant for the night of the 25th. First it was wonderful that they were open when the vast majority of others were closed. They were packed to the gills and it is a big place. The service is extremely professional (lacking elsewhere) and the owner comes to the table of each diner even on Chirstmas. This is a place that cares about the happiness of its diners. The food was good too. It was a prix fix deal ($65 per person - 3 courses, drinks extra) that night. I started with lobster bisque. It was flavorful and served with a homemade parmesan bread stick. My second course was quail in a port orange sauce with with a date and raisin stuffing. The orange sauce was very good. There were two generous sized quail. They came with a pyramid of cous-cous which had the misfortune to be laced with red pepper. But dining partner's mashed potatoes were a nice side. Dining partner was still sufferring illness from eating at Europa. She did brave escargot again was not disappointed this time. There was a nice portion of traditionally prepared snails. She had the turkey. The chestnut dressing seemed a bit underdone to me. For dessert I had the chesnut meringue with vanilla ice cream, creme chantilly and marron glacee with a chocolate drizzle. I thought the meringue was overdone. I liked the rest of the dessert. Dining partner got the trio of creme brulee. The pistachio was great. The raspberry was not that great. The traditional was average. If I were to go back to Palm Springs I would eat here again.
Le Vallarius got 4 diamonds from AAA for 2006. They deserve it.
We also had a lunch at a Ruby's Dinner (chain). Very untrained and harried wait staff. Food was o.k. but barely for me. Jill-O's club sandwich was much better than my burger.
And I could not be in Palm Springs without a date shake. We took the trip out to Shield's Date Gardens for that. I really liked it but then I really like dates. They also have a huge selection of varities to take home. A pound of royal medjools (very sweet, moist and meaty) made it to my suitcase. Shields will not be around much longer but other places do serve date shakes. I'd have more if I could.