Jake’s – Palm Springs, California
“Now i lay me down to sleep
And pray the Lord my soul to keep
If i die before i wake, feed Jake
He’s been a good dog
My best friend right through it all
If i die before i wake, feed Jake.”
~Pirates of the Mississippi
“On one hand,” my Kim tells me, “you’d make a great politician.” “You maintain a perfect deadpan expression while telling the biggest whoppers.” She had just watched me convince a gullible millennial that the Jeff Bridges character in the movie The Big Lebowski was named for our debonair dachshund The Dude. Never mind that our Dude was born sixteen years after the 1998 comedy hit. “On the other hand,” she corrected herself, “you’re much too honest to ever run for office.” Only a few people, my Kim being one of them, can recognize when I’m using my “gift” of mirthful mendacity. It’s a gift I employ only to lighten the mood, not to exploit gullibility.
We were standing in line in front of Jake’s, one of the most famous and popular restaurants in Palm Springs, when the opportunity for my duplicitous act presented itself. The Dude, as usual, was the center of attention. Virtually everyone in line with us stopped to coo at our little boy, commenting on how soft his fur is and what a handsome (he takes after his dad), well-behaved little guy he is. Of course, everyone wanted to know what our paragon of puppyhood (or is it puppyness) was named. They all concurred that “The Dude” name fits very well.
It was fitting that my canine caper transpired at Jake’s, a classic American bistro named for a West Highland Terrier who crossed the rainbow bridge in February, 2016, a month before we lost our beloved Tim. Regulars with whom we made small talk told us all about Jake, a peripatetic and much loved presence at the restaurant named for him. If it’s possible for the spirit of a dearly departed dog to infuse a locale he loved, you could certainly feel Jake’s presence. That’s especially true near the restroom where walls are festooned with his smiling countenance.
Smiles come with the territory when you dine at Jake’s which has been recognized as one of the top “100 Best Al Fresco Dining Restaurants in America,” and by eater.com as “one of the top seventeen Palm Springs restaurants for 2017.” More importantly, it earned a perfect five bones rating from BringFido, the trusted online dog travel directory. “Bone apetit” commented several reviewers. Aside from its dog-friendly ambiance, Jake’s is renowned for its amiable servers, decadent desserts and for its weekend brunch. The brunch menu is wholly unlike the seemingly standard brunch template of pancakes, omelets and similar fare. The Christmas Eve brunch had some of those, but it also had some of the most tempting sandwiches and salads we’ve seen.
As usual, my Kim ordered a sandwich superior to the one I ordered–a hangar steak and eggs sandwich, a stellar lunch meets breakfast which exemplifies why brunch is so beloved. A ciabatta roll is the canvas for one of the most delicious breakfast sandwiches we’ve ever had, a sandwich which will kick any McMuffin in the teeth. Picture two eggs over medium, sliced hangar steak prepared at about medium, Gorgonzola cheese, pico de gallo, avocado slices and chipotle aioli. My Kim tells me I pay more attention to the nuanced elements of the most complicated sandwiches than to their star ingredients. In this case, my attention (and affection) centered on the chipotle aioli, a smoky, piquant smear that made this sandwich coalesce into a delicious whole, not jumble of ingredients. Sure, the hangar steak was as tender as the murmur of a spring drizzle (and would make wondrous fajitas), but that aioli made it.
My own choice, the lobster roll (tail meat lobster, Old Bay remoulade, preserved lemon, heirloom tomato and Romaine lettuce on a long brioche roll) wasn’t quite as satisfying. My preference has always been for knuckle and claw meat, not meat from the tail, but still I ordered this because, well…it’s a lobster roll. Sure, it wasn’t constructed on a split top roll as were the boatloads of lobster rolls I enjoyed while living in Massachusetts, but, well…it’s a lobster roll. At minimum, that means it’s a great sandwich. The degree of greatness of Jake’s lobster roll may not be as high as the greatness you’d ascribe a lobster roll from Maine, but this was a lobster roll. That means it’s pretty great.
Take the term “great” and multiply it by an infinite order of magnitude and you’ve got the citrus cake, an incomparable brick-sized slab of absolute deliciousness my Kim described as the “best cake ever!” As our server toted it over to our table, she attributed the size of his formidable, rock-hard “guns” (seething with jealousy here) to having to carry such weighty desserts all day. Size was far from its most definable quality. This colorful beauty is three layers of fresh, natural citrus flavors demarcated by a date buttercream frosting. Each layer of citrus–sweet Meyer lemon, tangy lemon and bright orange–is replete with the flavors of freshly picked citrus fruits, not some artificial flavor. We thought there would be no way we could finish it all, but finish it all we did…and we’d do it all over again.
Jake’s lives up to its billing. It’s truly one of the very best restaurants in Palm Springs, but how could it not be. It’s not just a dog-friendly restaurant. It’s a restaurant named for a four-legged family member. Those tend to be the best!
664 North Palm Canyon Drive
Palm Springs, California
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LATEST VISIT: 24 December 2017
# OF VISITS: 1
COST: $$ – $$$
BEST BET: Citrus Cake, Lobster Roll, Hangar Steak and Eggs Sandwich
RESTAURANT REVIEW #1012