If you set your heart on finding a restaurant that's off the beaten path sometimes that is hard to do. Most restaurants have a nice sign to let you know where they're at and what kind of Cuisine they serve. Some form chains and miraculously have the same menu items served in the identical way. You would think that one chef worked at several different restaurants of the same name at the same time. Of course, you can use Google Maps or Yelp to help find restaurants, but these are the same ones that everyone else has already found. Remarkably, now you can even ask your car to drive you to a restaurant where you’ve never been before.
So where is the good stuff? That's what we decided to look for here in Palm Springs. Even though we were looking for something that was off the beaten path what we found was right on Palm Canyon Drive. This restaurant is so nondescript that you could drive by it many times and never know it was there.
"In the heart of the Uptown Design District in the historic El Paso building that was built in 1926, you will find a little gem"
In the heart of the Uptown Design District in the historic El Paso building that was built in 1926, you will find a little gem called the Workshop Kitchen and Bar. The El Paso building once served as the home of the city council. More recently it has served as an art gallery, but in the 1950s it was a movie theater. This contemporary space serves some of the best cuisine you will find in Palm Springs. They call it New American fare. This farm-to -table concept embraces the local farmers within an hour’s distance of Palm Springs.
We entered the restaurant through the courtyard which seats about 50 people and made our way to the hostess desk. The dining room is a long room with a 32-foot concrete table down the middle. They describe this as the Community Table, "which is for friends, family and strangers alike". We decided to sit at the bar and dine with the bartender.
The menu is seasonal and so are the cocktails they feature. The two cocktails that are on the seasonal cocktail list are The Jack Rose and The Bee's knees. The Jack Rose is a drink that was mentioned in the book, "The Sun Also Rises", by Hemingway. The Jack Rose is made with Clear Creek Apple Brandy, house-made grenadine, Lime juice and Marasca Cherry. It was apparently popular during the twenties, admittedly before my
time. The second drink the Bee's Knees, is made with Ransom Old Tom Gin, lemon juice, fresh honey, lemon oils. This is a probation-era cocktail has been updated. It's a unique drink that is very refreshing.
The spring menu is anything but simple, with 14 small plates and 10 large plates. The small plates consist of a mélange of dishes, Bloomsdale spinach salad, a "Little Gem Caesar salad", shaved Brussel Sprouts, Roasted Heirloom Carrots, Octopus Carpaccio, Pork Cheek Fries and even a Wood-Fired Pizza.
The entrees are done with exquisite flair. The first item is Black Cod served with a honey-lavender glaze, Parsley Root Puree, red frill mustard greens and a Fresno chili & garlic ferment. There are Scallops, Roasted Winter Vegetables for the vegetarian, Duck Leg Confit, and an Organic Half Jidori® Chicken Diavolo.
We choose two entrees, the 10-ounce Mesquite grilled pork chop with roasted brussels sprouts, pickled Cara Cara Orange, Shallot Bacon Marmalade and the Braised Wagyu Oxtail Risotto with Pecorino and young local greens.
Everything was excellent. It was done with style that only a chef can prepare. The Pork Chop which had been brined was very juicy and I would say that Wagyu Oxtail was to die for. My companion Ruka said that we must come back and enjoy the 18-ounce ribeye. The menu says that “it takes 25 minutes to prepare this item medium rare and is only available for two persons.” At a price that would break my wallet, I told her I would think about it.
But what completes this menu is, of course, the wine and the beer list. This isn't the type of place you're going to find Heineken or Budweiser. It's a spot for Craft beers. Like these you know, The Bear Republic “Racer 5” from Healdsburg, the Humboldt Brewing Company Red Nectar Ale from Paso Robles and the North Coast Brewing Company "Pranqster" Belgian-style Wheat are the types of Brews you'll find here at the Workshop Kitchen and Bar. And the wine list, which represents the world, is compendious, but they will show you their Reserva list of rare vintages if you ask.
To be sure, this is a place that you have you try when you come to Palm Springs.
As previously mentioned, I want to introduce you to the spirits I find along the way.
Old Tom Gin is a gin recipe popular in 18th-century England. In modern times, it became rare but has experienced a resurgence in the "Craft Cocktail" movement.
Ransom Old Tom Gin lead me to their website which I share with you below.
Please log on to ChasingCuisine.com and follow my journey….
Enjoy life, drink responsibly.
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Author : Neal Murray
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