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The Chop House of Palm Springs

262 South Palm Canyon Drive
Palm Springs, CA 92262
Phone: 760.320.4500

Date of Visit: 10 August 2007


Palm Springs has always been a favorite place of mine for weekend jaunts...even in the heat of the summer. So last Friday I packed up the trusty old Toyota and headed to the desert. Wanting to be close to downtown Palm Springs but still maintain a reasonable budget, I chose the Marriott Courtyard Palm Springs for my lodging on this trip.

It still amazes me how fast the entire Coachella Valley has grown over the past few decades. I remember going out here when I was young to go hunting with my father and brother. After you left downtown Palm Springs, it was vast "nothingness" for miles and miles. Not today. From the Whitewater area as you exit Interstate 10 to well past Indio, it is continuous development.

If you like food, the Palm Springs area is a good place to visit. Over the years, the number of good to great restaurants here has exploded. And the area has its share of places catering to we Dead Cow lovers. I decided to visit two places, starting with the Chop House of Palm Springs.

Situated on trendy (and busy!) South Palm Canyon Drive, the Chop House is part of the Kaiser Restaurant Group. I have only eaten at their Kaiser Grille once several years ago, so I decided on one of their new offerings. Earlier in the day, I called the Chop House to see if I could make a reservation. The man who answered the phone, Mark, said absolutely and asked what time I would like. I said 7:30 PM and he said "See you then!"

I walked in at my expected time and was greeted by the hostess. When I told her my name, the man next to her turned and said, "Ah yes. My name is Mark and I spoke to you earlier. Welcome to the Chop House." Mark was called away and the hostess escorted me to my table. The table was a two-top and located in the center of the restaurant. As is typical of many steak houses, the lighting was very low. While I was attempting to read the wine list, Mark appeared and said, "Is this table fine with you? We have one next to the window. It's perfect for people watching and has much better light. Would you care to move?" Of course, I said. So he escorted me to the table by the window. It was great, and lived up to his "perfect for people watching" description, as it had a great view of comings and goings of people and cars along South Palm Canyon Drive. Thanks, Mark.

The waiter arrived to take my drink order. Not wanting to drink a full bottle of wine (I know, shocking, isn't it?), I ordered a glass of Lockwood sauvignon blanc ($7.50) while I read the menu. The server told me about their specials of the night and took the unusual step (for me, anyway) of ordering two of the daily special items. I ordered the "Chilled Gazpacho with Bay Shrimp" ($9.50), and the "Filet Mignon & Foie Gras" ($48.50).

I ordered another glass of the Lockwood sauvignon blanc with the chilled soup. Sadly, the Gazpacho was very bland and almost tasteless. The size of the serving was enough for two. However, it was lacking any flavor at all. This was very disappointing, especially when I found out the price. (In retrospect, it would have been a keen idea for me to determine the price of both the soup and entree before ordering!) With the entree, I ordered a glass of Raymond Reserve merlot ($12.00). Wine Glass Rant: I hate cheap, restaurant supply house, one-dollar wine glasses. Show some pride, Chop House, and use "real" wine glasses.

If you have read any of my other reviews that even mention fois gras, you already know that I have an almost religious respect for the dish and the duck (or goose) who sacrificed themselves for this gastronomical delight. Now marry this with a large filet and it should be a pairing made in heaven. The official description was "Filet Mignon, Sonoma Fois Gras, Truffle & Port Wine Reduction, Potatoes Au Gratin and Sauteed Chanterelle Mushrooms." Served in a large bowl-shaped dish, I dug in. Well, first I looked for the fois gras. I found it, perched atop the filet. To say that it was a small portion of fois gras would be an understatement. Now I know that you are not supposed to stuff a half-pound of the stuff down your throat, but it would have been nice to have enough to include in more than three bites of filet. Ok, rant over. Sonoma fois gras has a sweeter taste than its cousin from the Hudson Valley of New York. I like both, so there are no favorites. The filet was ordered medium but was served rare. It was a nice filet, as filets go. (The filet is not my most favorite cut of Dead Cow.) But melding the flavors of the Port wine reduction and sautéed Chanterelle mushrooms made for a nice taste. Personally, I felt the potatoes au gratin did not do anthing for the dish. All in all, it was nice but nothing to rave about and not, in my opinion, a value at $48.50).

I am not a major desert lover but did have some this night. I ordered their "Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee with Fresh Berries" ($6.00). This delightful desert was served on a very chilled plate covered with powered sugar. Sometimes the melted sugar atop Crème Brulee is so hard and thick, it takes three people to dig through. However, that was certainly not the case here. The topping was perfect, and the addition of fresh raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries only added to its pleasant taste. The vanilla bean flavor was prominent in this creamy desert. This was, unfortunately, the high point of the meal.

Service was nice but nothing special. When I mentioned that the first of coffee served with my desert was not very warm, instead of apologizing and bringing me a fresh cup, he said, "Well, I could make a fresh pot...." At that point, I cut him off and said not to bother.

Since I did not have a "typical" serving of Dead Cow, I would probably return to The Chop House when I am again in town. But I do think there are better places in the valley for lovers of Dead Cow. Because of the service issues, tasteless soup, etc., I can only give The Chop House 3.5 Dead Cows. I am sure they can do much better.


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