Workshop Kitchen-Bar, Palm Springs.

February 2022

This restaurant was triangulated by three reliable recommendations as one of the best in town so we had to give it a try. It has a central location, unique ambience and service and is certainly creative. If we are ever back in Palm Springs (which does seem unlikely) we’d probably go back if for no other reason than to give it a fair shot having become embroiled in an intense personal conversation while we were there that took a lot of our attention away from dinner.

It’s a large overall space broken up into much more intimate small ones with various seating arrangements including a long communal table. We sat in a nicely out-of-the-way booth and enjoyed the concrete and wood modern and functional interior design. A very brisk British middle-aged server entertained us with humour and rapid-fire familiarity with the menu, wines, and drinks. I think my non-hearing-impaired companions picked up more of what this delightful guy had to say than I did, but the energy was infectious.

Cocktails were a wonderfully acidic French 75 and a rich Campari boulevardier, expertly mixed and set up. Server helped us find an impressive nebbiolo for around $100 US. We feasted on delicious beets and citrus in a complex contrasting dressing and the place’s signature “duck fat fries” which were predictably very flavorful. My companions shared the truffle burger and mine was the pork chop.

Families, especially gathering together relatively infrequently, occasionally and quite properly get into serious and even critical emotional conversations about relationships and other issues, and sadly for our enjoyment of the main courses (but I can say eventually happily for our mutual sympathetic understanding of one another) we spent 15 or 20 minutes exclusively focused on our issues while the hamburger and pork chop patiently waited for us (us happily and it not so beneficially cooling off) and well-intentioned servers kept asking whether we were finished.

We weren’t of course. The hamburger once it got eaten wasn’t quite what my accompanying folks had expected, flavoured with truffle and some sauce but otherwise pretty much unadorned patty plus bun. My pork chop was delicious but small and of course cold, plus well-cooked when I would have (if I’d had the presence of mind) ordered it medium-rare. I think another circumstances it would’ve been delicious, maybe even worth its $40 US.

It is everyone knows a minority of restaurants these days where peace and quiet reigns and this Workshop is no exception. If you are lucky enough to be hearing-impaired you can turn your prostheses auditifs into earplugs by shutting them off and work with lip-reading or sign language if like us conversation seems important.

C$485 for dinner for three including a nice tip is definitely high-endish, but we spent quite a bit on wine.

These scores are grain-of-salt guesses because of our abovementioned divided attention. Food 8.9 service 9.0 ambience 9.3 value 7.2 peace and quiet 5.8. As I said this place deserves another try and although it may not get one from us judging from how well attended it was it will see no shortage of them going forward.

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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