JakesOne of the delicious benefits of attending (along with eight friends) the Int’l Film Festival in Palm Springs is discovering new restaurants in between our movie selections. It’s no exaggeration that the whole 12-day marathon requires spread-sheet precision when choosing from the approximately 210 screenings (most films are shown twice) and the myriad choices of the disparate film lovers in our little group.  We are not of one mind so needless to say, appropriate sustenance is required.

When forced to stand in queue, our scientific analysis has proved that the bulk of the line forms at about the 60-70-minute  mark so by arriving at the 75-minute mark prior to the film’s showing we are confident that we will gain a front-of-the-line advantage and thus, a center seat upon entering the theater. While waiting it’s fun to meet other folks who have traveled to Southern California from all over the US  to enjoy the Festival.  Invariably the topic of conversation veers toward “what films have you seen and where have you eaten?”  Last Thursday it was due to a strong recommendation offered by the couple next to us, that we decided to try Jake’s, billed as a “hip yet casual bistro,” located in the up-town section of North Palm Springs.  Thanks to the magic of cell phone to Internet to Open Table, we secured a reservation for after the movie.

What a delightful surprise!  It’s tiny and charming with a cozy patio and a large underlit bar, decorated with those magical twinkle lights and huge umbrellas. We arrived Jakes4early, but were immediately seated in a romantic spot where large patio heaters kept us comfy as we enjoyed the outdoor ambiance and studied the menu and wine list.  The selections appeared to be upscale offerings with gourmet touches that leaned toward the unusual.  Everything reflected an obvious attention to quality ingredients with the right dash of flair.  The prices were reasonable.

I wasn’t at all surprised to learn about owners Bruce Bloch, a creative director from the Manhattan advertising world and Chris Malm, a Cornell grad with 30 years in New York’s brutal restaurant/hotel industry.  They bring an undeniable New York savvy and it shows big time.  Anyone familiar with the New York food scene will attest to the fact that in New York, if you aren’t outstanding, you don’t survive!  Jake’s is outstanding.

Our choices included french onion soup (delivered by an appropriately French waiter;) arugula salad with blood oranges and baby hearts of palm; an eggplant tower of Jakes1mozzarella, ricotta and asparagus; and shrimp stuffed with Gruyere and crab meat served over garlic smashed potato and very very thin (I think roasted crispy) Julienne veggies.  That gorgeous French waiter kept returning with the most mouth-watering rolls, fresh from the oven. Everything was served elegantly and the portions were just right. Nothing left for tomorrow’s lunch…well, except…

Jakes2During dinner the most magnificent three-layer cakes kept calling to us from their refrigerated  glass case.  We were told they have a local pastry chef who bakes for them and after such a fabulous dinner we knew we would not disappointed by our choices of Coconut Cake and Orange Blossom Cake; slices so huge, iced so thick and sooooo rich that it would have been sinful to finish them.  So they kindly boxed our leftovers for a second tasting the following day.  Sigh.  They were just as delicious the second time around.  It’s been a long time since we’ve had such a satisfying dining experience, start to finish.

Can’t wait to try their weekend brunch.  You should too.