2 1/2 Golden Spoons
I had heard some good things about the newly opened Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge in Palm Springs, so when I was invited by a friend to dine there for lunch, I was looking forward to the experience. When we arrived, we were quickly greeted by several of the staff who clearly knew my host. The lounge is striking. High ceilings, brilliant white furnishings and fixtures, pops of fuchsia and chrome. The same décor flows into the very spacious dining room. Very nicely done.
However, the seating is intentionally mismatched from Victorian high back chairs with pink cushions to low white industrial metal chairs. I ended up in one of the metal chairs which had no seat pad and was very uncomfortable. The menu was eclectic, touted as being West Coast Modern. I actually found it borderline Hollywood pretentious with descriptions like Cypress Grove Truffle Tremor and Olorosso Sherry and Wild Mushroom Ragout. However, I must admit it peaked my interest.
I opted for the Smoked Chicken Breast Caesar Salad. Others in my group made more daring choices, but I always feel you can always judge a restaurant by the quality of its Caesar Salad. Service was prompt and our dishes arrived quickly. The Caesar was odd from the start. A pile of torn leaves of romaine lettuce with sliced chicken breast on the side.
The entire plate was smattered with an over-powering pepper lemon mixture. The dressing was a tart vinaigrette. The chicken was dry and very sweet. I don’t see how they call this a Caesar Salad. It is more of a Nero salad because of the burning sour after taste. Needless to say, I did not enjoy it.
However, one of the other guests had a Ratatouille Tart with squash and eggplant that tasted lovely. But, again, it really wasn’t a ratatouille or a tart. It was stacks of uncooked veggies next to a folded pancake in a tomato sauce. I think the chef is trying too hard. The rest of lunch was unremarkable. Will I give Eight4Nine another try? Maybe….it is a really beautiful setting. But….overall it 8nt4Me. There are just too many fantastic dining choices in Palm Springs.
Match Box, Palm Springs, Ca.
4 Golden Spoons
One of my favorite places for lunch, Matchbox in Palm Springs, has some of the best thin-crust pizzas this side of Italy! They tell me that the trick is a wood-fired masonry oven that heats up to over 800 degrees which gives the pizza a crisp, smoky crust. They also have a selection of fantastic appetizers, salads, sandwiches and entrees, but I always gravitate when having lunch for two to split a salad and small pizza. Today, we started with a delightful salad special of sliced pickled cucumbers with an assortment of toy box tomatoes topped with micro-greens. The cucumbers are sweet, tart, and crisp and the tomatoes are tossed in a wonderful tangy herb vinaigrette.
It’s actually the perfect marriage of flavors and textures. Delish. We accompanied that with the restaurant’s signature pizza bread. Shaped like a pretzel and sprinkled with coarse salt, it is crunchy on the outside and slightly chewy (in a good way) on the inside. Served with house-made garlic herb butter, this is one of my favorite breads on the planet. For our pizza course, we shared a small pizza which Matchbox will let you mix half and half. (more…)
4 Golden Spoons
Finally, we found it! The best little authentic Italian cafe for lunch in Rome. We literally stumbled upon this cafe on a side street near the Piazza Barberini. We were actually planning on having lunch at a chi chi rooftop restaurant at the Hotel Boscolo Aleph, but it was mysteriously closed. Disappointed, we wandered down the street and jumped out of the way of a bus to land in front of Locanda where a warm Italian gentlemen with a nice smile, Giuseppe, was standing and offered us a menu.
The dishes featured seemed very authentic to the area with classic rustic descriptions and the prices were exceptionally reasonable.There were also daily specials on a hand written chalkboard that sounded delightful. We asked Giuseppe for table for two and were promptly seated street side under a canopied seating area with acrylic walls just inches from the rushing traffic. It was a little unnerving when buses whooshed by, but a bit fun as well. (more…)
2 1/2 Golden Spoons
I had such high expectations for this restaurant, located in Rome’s most luxurious and prestigious hotel. I was even more excited as we had cocktails in the lounge two nights in a row with spectacular bar snacks prepared by the chef. However, when we decided to actually have a full dinner at Brunello, the experience was less than disappointing. We were seated in a much too brightly lit dining room at a table with barrel chairs too short to eat at the table properly. We needed pillows on our seat and behind our backs just to be able to sit up. Bad sign of design.
We almost walked out at this point, yet were so impressed by our server, Sylvia, that we pressed on. The menu was intriguing. A long list of specialties including a unique authentic country style selection. Prices ran from about $25-$35 for starters with entrees in the $30-$50 range. Definitely on the upper end.
2 1/2 Golden Spoons
As we were walking out of our hotel in Rome one afternoon, I was talking with my husband, Robert, about craving Classic Italian pizza for lunch. A man just in front of our hotel quickly interrupted our conversation saying he worked for a restaurant just around the corner which was known for its pizza and he asked us to follow him. I’m usually very dubious about these things so I don’t know why I threw caution to the wind and decided to accept his invitation. It’s probably because Robert is 6 foot 3 and works out five days a week. I think someone unscrupulous would choose less intimidating prey. (more…)