By Daneil Vaillancourt
Three generations of meat connoisseurs stand behind Prime Chop House. “We’re fanatical about it,” says Lee Morcus, CEO of Kaiser Restaurant Group, owner of both the Palm Springs and Palm Desert locations. “My Lebanese grandfather raised cattle and owned an old-fashioned grocery store before supermarkets became the norm in Colorado. My dad was a farmer and butcher as well, and he can out-cut anybody. I myself grew up in an old-school butcher shop.”
With this rich family history and expertise, the Morcus clan set out to create the best steakhouse in the desert. By all accounts — including perennial awards from Palm Springs Life magazine, The Desert Sun, and local TV stations, not to mention Wine Spectator and other foodie publications — they’ve succeeded.
While both sites may share a name, offering similar classic menus, stellar service, and 4000-bottle wine cellars, the two are nonetheless distinct. Palm Springs, on Palm Canyon Drive in the heart of downtown, offers a range of fine dining experiences — depending on whether guests choose to see and be seen on the patio, sit in the bustling main dining room, steal away to the more serene and intimate middle dining room, or live it up under the sky lights in the two story atrium in the rear dining room, which accommodates private parties up of to 80. Palm Desert, at the corner of Highway 111 and Portola Avenue, has a more traditional, Eastern clubhouse feel.
Each location boasts its own chef — Jose Jimenez in Palm Springs, Juan Femat in Palm Desert — who orchestrate the preparation of house-made sauces, breads, and desserts from scratch daily. Then there’s the individualized aging and butchering of the meats and seafood.
“I personally don’t know of anybody in the desert who’s cutting every steak in-house every day like we are,” concludes Morcus. “There’s an old saying: If you want the best fish in town, go to the place that has the best steak in town.”
Look for the latest incarnation of Prime Chop House in the new Stadium 2 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, home of the BNP Paribas Open, opening on March 1, 2014 — March 16 (throughout the tournament).
• 262 S. Palm Canyon, Palm Springs, CA 9226
• 74040 Highway 111, Palm Desert CA 92260
• Oysters Rockefeller
• Prosciutto Wrapped Medjool Dates
• Escargots Bourguignonne
• Blackened Ahi Tuna Seared rare, cucumber, daikon radish salad, vegetable spring roll, and citrus ponzu
• Herb Brined Prime Pork Chop
• 24 ounce Porter House
• Warm Valrhona Bittersweet Chocolate Cake
• New York Style Cheesecake
• Chocolate Cappuccino Mousse Cake
• Black Forest Cheesecake
• Bananas Foster
• Red Blend, Vérité (Le Désir, La Muse, La Joie)
• Cabernet Sauvignon Based Blend, Quintessa
• Cabernet Sauvignon, Hundred Acre
• Chardonnay, Rudd Bacigalupi, Russian River
• Organic Chardonnay, Morgan Double L Vineyard
• Dry Gewurztraminer, Martinelli
All wines by the glass available in 6 or 9 ounce pours
• White Cosmo Ciroc, St. Germain, white cranberry juice, sundried cranberry
• Prickly Pearita Grey Goose La Poire, Midori, pineapple, prickly pear cactus
• Vesper Martini Tanqueray, Smirnoff, Lillet Blanc, twist