Jake and I stayed in Palm Springs only one night – so after a very peaceful and restful night at the Riviera, we got started early to try and beat the heat of the day. Originally we went over to a place called Cheeky’s in Downtown Palm Springs, but the prospect of waiting for an hour in the ever-increasing heat was a big turn off for me. We ditched those plans and made our way back down to Palm Desert. Jake gave me a tour of a few places he lived and we drove by the College of the Desert, where he went to college.
A few searches on Yelp led me to a place called Clementine Gourmet Marketplace & Cafe. With many mentions of house cured bacon and a variety of desserts, I was pretty much sold.
Our waitress gave us a carafe of water so we could refill it ourselves. I always dig it when places do that.
This is the back of the restaurant where the seating area is. There were these two long communal tables, plus about 8-9 smaller tables around this area. We came in about 11AM before the lunch rush.
In the front of the restaurant there’s this little market place area. They sold a variety of of goods such as lotions, candles, note cards, etc.
This place also has a big deli case with a bunch of freshly made goods to take home (or eat in the restaurant). There was a whole slew of salads…
and prepared side dishes…
and other prepared foods like lasagna, chicken and tuna salad. Everything looks freshly prepared which was a nice thing to see. Too bad we weren’t able to try any of it! If we lived nearby or were more prepared, I would have loved to try a few things.
[fresh pasta – with butter & cheese, mushrooms and garlic]
I was originally going to get breakfast… but after I learned the pasta was made fresh in house, well… I couldn’t resist! I got a simple spaghetti with butter and cheese sauce. I opted to do a few additions (mushroom and garlic) for a few extra dollars.
The fresh spaghetti had a lovely, dense chew and was cooked to a perfect al dente. The sauce looks like it might be kind of watery, but it was actually really lovely and the spaghetti soaked it up well. Jake kept take bites of it, expertly eating around my plate full of mushrooms. He thought this was one of the best pasta dishes he’s ever had – and it wasn’t even his food!
I ended up wishing I hadn’t gotten the mushrooms just for his sake! But the mushrooms were good. I love mushrooms.
[fish & chips]
While Jake says he doesn’t like seafood… he loves fish and chips. I will admit though, fried fish doesn’t really taste very “fishy”, so I guess I can give him that one.
The Fish and Chips here was actually a daily special and not an everyday menu item. We had to wait a little longer for it to come out because this one was the first of the day and they had to do the prep work first. At least we knew it was fresh!
Instead of many pieces of fish, Jake got one HUGE piece of fish. The fish was a sea bass from Costa Rica – and it looked like it was practically a whole filet. The sea bass was tender and almost buttery wrapped up in that thick, crunchy batter. The fish was perfectly coated in the batter – it was almost like a cave-like coating since you could fully see the fish inside the batter, if that makes any sense. The batter perfectly surrounded it, but didn’t stick to the fish. Both the fish and the outer crust were delicious, as was the tarter sauce that came with it. The tarter sauce didn’t have all that pickle crap in it, which made me like it even more.
[house cured bacon]
The house cured bacon is thick cut and had a really wonderful smoky flavor. It’s thick enough so that it still has some bite to it after you chomp a bit off, but still had a crisp edge. Really, really good bacon. This is what all bacon should aspire to be.
In addition to all those prepared foods in the deli case, they’ve got a bunch of baked goods! From macarons and Italian cookies…
to tarts and neapolitans…
as well as chocolate desserts, cheesecakes and eclairs. A good variety of delicious things. It was so hard to just choose a few…
[cookies and macarons]
We agreed on getting one each of the Italian cookies plus a few macarons. We saved these for when we got home, so we could share them with Jake’s son, T.
The cookies were just okay. Nothing really special there. The macarons were also just kind of “eh”. Maybe sitting around in the car’s heat wilted them, haha.
[strawberry pistachio tart]
This is the one I was really excited about, and also worried about. See, we went to the date shake place after we went here (I posted out of order) and it was starting to creep into the triple digits. I made Jake bring the tart into the shop with us for fear that the heat would ruin the strawberries and cream! It was like the tart became our little baby. We also took it into a pizza place we stopped at for a bathroom break and a slice of pizza. We had to take care of, man.
I’m glad we did because it was SO GOOD. The pistachio made up the bulk of the tart. It was sweet, creamy and smelled heavily of pistachios. It tasted a bit like it had ground up pistachios as well as pistachio extract. It paired really well with the whipped cream and fruit and I totally loved it. I want to try making one of my own!
On our way out of the cafe, Jake stopped to chat with the owner (who is French) who told him that he used to work for a big hotel – until he got tired of the politics and opened up his own little place in Palm Desert. The head chef here is South Africa born and trained in England (hence the fish and chips, huh?). All in all we were so happy to stop by Clementine and glad that the visit to the other place did not work out, otherwise we would have never tried this place! The food is fresh, hand crafted and you could tell there was a lot of love and care put into every one of their dishes. It really showed!
Clementine Gourmet Marketplace & Cafe
72990 El Paseo
Palm Desert, CA 92260