Dining out is fraught with new challenges during the Pandemic. With a significant portion of the population in our town having either one or both vaccinations, coupled with our weather warming up and finally, the lifting of the outdoor dining, as a community we are navigating unknown territory once again.
I at least am making decisions about whether eating out is “worth it”, and last night the Ace Hotel’s King’s Highway left me impressed. This is a large open space with lots of heaters for our chilly winter/spring evenings. Tables are located at least six feet apart and much more in some areas. They are only accepting parties of six people or less, although the night I was there they did not have anything larger than a four-top seated. This made for a very safe and comfortable dining experience.
The staff was very friendly and professional and although I have only eaten at the Ace a few times in the past, it felt like I was being welcomed back to a favorite neighborhood eatery, no small feat for a hotel restaurant. The clientele is made up of tourists and a smattering of locals, The tourists seem to be of the COVID compliant type, with many tables re-donning their masks between courses or even between bites.
On Wednesday nights they are featuring live jazz which makes a lovely background accompaniment.
Although the drinks menu leans heavily on beers and ciders, I decided to start with the Curran Rose out of Santa Barbara which paired nicely with the Maitake Mushrooms This dish is all my favorite things about a baked potato without the actual baked potato. Crispy, meaty wedges of seared mushrooms rest on a bed of smooth and tart sour cream with sweet, caramelized onions, crispy prosciutto bits, and the light bite of chive. This dish was nearly perfect. I did have to ask for salt and need to remember to bring my own in the future, so I do not have to use those awful paper packets that restaurants are required to use during the pandemic.
The Caesar salad was blanketed in a Chicago snowstorm of Grana Padano cheese. Although not a Caesar in the conventional sense of the word, the little Gem’s lettuce was a nice change from romaine, and the liberal sprinkle of perfectly crisp sourdough croutons more than made up for veering away from tradition. A lemony briny dressing completed the transformation.
Beans and fish are two of my favorite foods to eat together. I have made many versions throughout my life and particularly during the last year. The Pacifico Bass was hard seared giving it a crispy exterior and feathery interior. The beans were creamy and delectably spicy with smoky Arbol, New Mexico, and Morita chile Salsa Macha. This was complex and not too spicy; I could honestly just eat a giant bowl of these any meal of the day.
For a traditionalist, The Redtop Farm Pork Chop was sweet and tart with red onions and apples. The impeccably smooth mashed potatoes make this one of those dishes people will order every time they come in.
I love pineapple, and I love cider, so the Pacific Pineapple from Two Towns Cider House was a drink I did not know I needed in my life. Pineapple-y and low in alcohol this was delightful on a school night.
King’s Highway has three special desserts: a strawberry shortcake, a key lime pie, and the banoffee (banana and toffee) pie. Trust me when I say you should order the banaoffee. To say this pie is rich is as understated as saying Palm Springs has nice weather. Crisp graham cracker crust, buttery salty toffee work so well with the creamy sweetness of bananas. Topped with a pile of pillowy whipped cream, I will be ordering this again.
Eating out has always been one of my favorite things to do. As I begin to dip my toes back into society, it is wonderful to know that the restaurants in Palm Springs are working hard to keep us safe and deliver outstanding food and experiences.
King’s Highway at the Ace Hotel
701 E Palm Canyon
Palm Springs, CA 92264