Thursday, June 25, 2009

Bitten by Rattlesnake

With only one shot at week two of Palm Springs Restaurant Week, we bee-lined for a sure bet in great food and wine: Jimmy Schmidt's Rattlesnake.

Rattlesnake's Palm Desert location at the Classic Club just north of I-10 off Cook Street is central and convenient. It's just enough off the beaten path to have special, perhaps secret destination status. But Rattlesnake is too good, no, make that great to be kept secret.

First up, we were thrilled to discover that the two two-ounce tasting glasses of wine included with our dinner were from Heron, the winery featured at our February Winewomen event held at Rattlesnake. Apparently, restaurant sommelier Francois Cinq-Mars enjoyed Laely Heron's wines so much that evening, he decided to add them to the menu – pretty cool.

Schmidt's ambitious cuisine convinced our foursome to order different dishes and let tasting forks rule. Tines flew back and forth in testimony to the flavors, seasoning and textures of each course. One tablemate saw fit to give a mini-soliloquy to the bread basket and a few courses later, the coffee. Service, to no one's no surprise, was impeccable.

Cinq-Mars deserves kudos for the restaurant's wine list. Selections are grouped by grape types with each variety highlighted by a brief yet pithy description of the fruit, its wine flavors, body and other qualities to help diners choose and pair appropriately. He also calls attention to sub-categories of "interesting" wines – some are blends, others are wines made from less-familiar or exotic grapes.

The handpicked list is obviously chosen with care and quite fairly priced. We counted charmers as well as special bottles for splurge or landmark nights. In fact, we'd love to have just about every one in our cellar, they're that good.

Best of all, or so we heard, Rattlesnake will offer this special menu during the summer. We'll confirm when, how much and other details or call the restaurant at 760.601.3690. Order a few tasty treats at their wine bar or try Rattlesnake for lunch. Either way, even though you might think of it as your special hideaway, you won't be able to resist letting your friends in on this local treasure.

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