The Word: Don’t be fooled by OpenTable’s “top 10 booked restaurants” in Palm Springs, because people going to Palm Springs are not renowned for good taste. OpenTables’s Top 10 for Palm Springs always includes chain restaurants, and overrated Palm Springs steakhouses living on dusty reputations.
For my money, the best restaurant (at least the best I’ve been to thus far) in Palm Springs in Johannes. Among the half dozen restaurants we sampled during a recent trip to Palm Springs and Desert Hot Springs, no other restaurant came close to its exceptional food and service.
Owner-chef Johannes Bacher injects California freshness into a strong sampling of Continental fare from his native Austria and beyond. The meaty classics here include roasted duck breast, young lamb rack, pork loin, tenderloin steak, and a lauded version of wiener schnitzel. For non-carnivores, Johannes has great seafood dishes as well.
The Vibe: Clean, fairly minimal setting, with simple, high-backed white chairs and crisp white tablecloths. A few tasteful paintings (European landscapes, perhaps) decorate the main room, whose walls are painted a cooling, canteloupe color. The wine cellar has a see-through door that revealed messy stacks of wine boxes piled in among the neatly stacked bottles in the walls, but it was a tiny detriment.
The Service: The service was truly excellent: attentive and warm but non-intrusive. I give an extra commendation because we called to say we were running late (very close to the time of closing). The hostess was relaxed and encouraged us to get there whenever we could instead of the usual restaurant response (grief and consternation). When we arrived much earlier than we expected, she welcomed us and said it would have been OK if we would have been late. That is a rare gem of service in the restaurant business, so kudos to Johannes.
The Skinny: Johannes
196 South Indian Canyon Drive (at Arenas)
Palm Springs, CA 92262
Phone: (760) 778-0017
Dinner only, Monday – Sunday 6:00pm to 10:00pm
Owner / Chef: Johannes Becher
Johannes website: http://www.johannesrestaurants.com/