4 Saints, Palm Springs.

January 2022

We are in this strange town due to a series of Covid-related and other travel screwups through which a full family celebration of my birthday on a beach in El Salvador gradually wizened into a short trip of just three of us. We wanted summer-like warmth and at least a pool to cool off in and Palm Springs seemed like a good idea. Too bad it’s been cloudy and around 17° maximum during the day so far. Never mind, there are restaurants. This one, a bit like this city itself, turned out to be a classy-looking superficial presentation covering a should-have-been predictable mediocre vacancy.

It’s in a hotel and is more or less unmarked but when we asked at the desk were directed to an elevator and found the place on the third floor. There is a quite inviting and understated feel to the medium-sized nicely-lit room and we sat at a corner table pleased with the adult clientele and muted conversation around us. Pleasant young lady arrived and we ordered drinks, and she deferred to someone else when asked about the wines. A middle-aged guy came over and suggested four that were in our price range of the twenty or so reds. A Napa grenache blend at $80 seemed like the best choice and in fact it was quite wonderful (I notice looking at the menu now there was a Rene Rostaing GSM for the same price which I would have grabbed if I had seen it).

Our starters were just strangely executed. Beef tartare was chopped pieces afloat in a liquid dressing with I think onions. My cornbread with crispy chicken skin was 96% quite dry cornbread and a few shreds of the hoped-for skin. Caesar salad which one of us had as her main (“entrée”) was chopped chunks of lettuce heart with an only mildly anchovy flavoured creamy dressing.

Best of the night was my coppa pork steak (I don’t see it on the on-line menu as I review it now) which was beautifully medium rare with a nice reduction sauce. A petite beef filet was pretty ordinary in flavour and tenderness for an American restaurant, reputed to pay top dollar to Alberta producers for the best of the best.

Our server was obviously inexperienced but quite pleasant, although she seemed to have been around long enough to have picked up the unbelievably annoying behaviour of arriving at the table for whatever purpose already talking, across an existing conversation participants in which face the choice of raising their voices and continuing to talk or, usually, just shutting up.

This whole thing cost about C$350 for three people, which wouldn’t have seemed out of line if the food had been anywhere close in quality to the physical plant. We are here for another two nights and hope to do better. Food 6.6 service 6.1 ambience (physical only) 9.0 value 6.9 peace and quiet 8.5.

About John Sloan

John Sloan is a senior academic physician in the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia, and has spent most of his 40 years' practice caring for the frail elderly in Vancouver. He is the author of "A Bitter Pill: How the Medical System is Failing the Elderly", published in 2009 by Greystone Books. His innovative primary care practice for the frail elderly has been adopted by Vancouver Coastal Health and is expanding. Dr. Sloan lectures throughout North America on care of the elderly.
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