Make no mistake, old school does not equal old fashioned.
If you don’t believe me, book a table at Bernie’s Lounge and Supper Club in Palm Springs. The restaurant opened just before New Year’s Eve in the space occupied for many years by Davey’s Hideaway.
On a recent evening, a musical duo was playing Rat Pack favorites in the bar area as my friends and I were escorted into an elegant dinner room decorated with deep red walls, black-and-white booths, and eclectic artwork by Laguna Beach artist Sandra Jones Campbell and Riverside artist Paulden Evans, who is a close personal friend of the restaurant’s owners Rand Howell and Geoff McIntosh.
McIntosh explains the restaurant’s booths were built and upholstered to be true to the theme — classic black, with white buttons and welt, so they look “tuxedo like.”
“The entire concept for the restaurant, including feel, decor, music, menu, and cocktails was selected to create an updated version of a classic 1950s or 1960s Palm Springs supper club,” says McIntosh. “The kind of place where Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin might have been hanging out.”
“Many of our handcrafted specialty cocktails have names inspired by the music of that period (“That’s Amore,” “Fly Me to the Moon”). We don't use more ‘modern’ inventions like blenders for drinks in the lounge, choosing to hand shake instead,” adds McIntosh.
Chef Jason Moffitt — a Coachella Valley-native whose career has included stints at Roy’s in Woodland Hills and Catalan in Rancho Mirage — created a menu to capture that same vibe, while updating the dishes and preparations to suit a more modern palate.
“The best seller is our classic prime rib (pictured at right),” says McIntosh. “It’s served with a traditional baked potato and fresh green beans. Chef Moffitt uses an oven specially designed for slow roasting to prepare it. Also our shrimp cocktail is unbelievable.”
My friends and I can personally vouch for the Slow Pokes — Burgandy escargot that were perfectly-cooked and topped with an herb butter that managed to be incredibly flavorful without being overpowering.
“I’d come back just for this wedge salad (served with pancetta, tomato confit, fried shallots, and Point Reyes bleu cheese),” said my friend, Michael.
Meanwhile, his partner, Robert, was raving about the delightful twist a tangy Greek yogurt and crispy quinoa brought to his Loch Duart salmon.
But to be honest, I was too taken with the ever-so-slight-smokiness of the sauce drizzled over my flat iron steak to pay much attention to what else they were saying. McIntosh reveals the sauce’s secret ingredients are smoked shallots, cooked with whole peppercorns, bay leaf, roasted garlic, brown sugar, Cognac, Burgundy wine, thyme, demi glacé, and cream.
For dessert, don’t miss the salted caramel pot de crème served with a side of cappuccino ice shavings. It was one of the most memorable desserts I’ve had in a long time.
Bernie's Lounge and Supper Club
292 East Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs