PALM SPRINGS, Calif.
I’m spending a long weekend in California’s desert country, in this nostalgic hideaway for Hollywood stars. It was a last-minute trip planned to escape the rain and cold of Northern California, so it’s ironic that I’m writing this today on a rainy day in Palm Springs.
To get out of the rain, I dropped into Workshop Kitchen + Bar for Sunday brunch. This modern restaurant in the city’s Uptown Arts and Antique District is a stark contrast to the retro diner-type restaurants that are commonly found around town. It’s evident once you walk in and see the cavernous space with concrete walls and tables (the space won a Best Restaurant Design award from the James Beard Foundation last year).
But owner/chef Michael Beckman also wants the place to be a communal and cozy gathering for people to enjoy fresh food, so the design includes booths flanking both sides of a large communal table than runs down the center of the restaurant. It’s definitely a hip spot that’s popular for brunch, and the crowd skews younger, even in Palm Springs.
There’s an impressive cocktail program, anchored by the dramatic bar at the end of the dining room. For brunch there were several specialty cocktails and bottomless mimosas, but I skipped alcohol today (because of a big wine dinner the night before) and got a latte made with Stumptown Coffee (I’m surprised to see several locations offering this Portland roaster, one of my favorite coffee brands).
The brunch menu offers several egg dishes and other items like chicken and waffles and pastrami reuben. There seems to be a nice healthy element, almost catering to the Los Angeles crowd, with fresh juices and salads, and again because we’re close to Southern California several Mexican-inspired dishes.
I actually was enticed by the Maine lobster breakfast burrito ($17), which is your typical breakfast burrito but with chunky, juicy Maine lobster meat. The tortilla was interestingly thin and toasted, but it was able to keep all the ingredients, which also include avocado, black beans and breakfast potatoes. (The burrito is also made with bacon but I got it without.)
I enjoyed the flavors although I felt the lobster did get lost by the strong flavor of the beans, but this was definitely filling. I was glad I ordered the shaved fennel salad ($11) to balance the burrito. This large salad was made with “volcano rice,” pepita seeds, herbs and a light (almost bland) brasserie vinaigrette.
The last bite
There’s no doubt that the space is dramatic, and the service friendly and efficient. While the food isn’t necessarily innovative, it is a refreshing change of pace from what you typically find in Palm Springs.
The rating: 2.5 out of 4 camera snaps
The deets: Workshop Kitchen + Bar, 800 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, Calif. PH: 760.459.3451. Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; dinner daily from 5 p.m. Reservations, major credit cards accepted. workshoppalmsprings.com
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