What: The boom boom shrimp
Where: Kitchen 86 + Bar, 73130 El Paseo, Suite I, Palm Desert
How much: $13 at lunch
Contact: 760-890-1586; www.kitchen-86.com
Why: These are some tasty bites.
The first word that comes to mind when I think of Kitchen 86 + Bar is welcoming.
I was greeted enthusiastically as I walked in the door for lunch one recent weekday at this locally owned “modern eclectic small plate restaurant,” in the space that once housed Wolfgang Puck’s El Paseo outpost. The vibe is upscale and energetic, but not pretentious, and the lunch menu is a lot of fun: You’ll find “sharables,” some named after people (Kerry’s crispy calamari, Winston’s hummus, Abel’s salmon tacos), along with sandwiches, salads, pizza and some kids’ selections.
My lunch companion, Kevin, and I split the boom-boom shrimp to start, while I selected the agu ramen ($15) as my main course. This was one of those occasions when the starter far outshined the main: The ramen was just OK, while the boom-boom shrimp were revelatory. The bite-sized shrimp were perfectly cooked, and covered (but not drenched) in the spicy-but-not-too-hot Thai chili glaze. The accompanying organic greens, lightly dressed, were fresh and tasty.
My one complaint: We wanted more. Kevin is a mensch, so he let me have the lion’s share of the shrimp, and they were delicious enough that I felt bad about that. Some may complain about the portion size, given the $13 price tag—but I don’t mind paying a buck or two extra for something that’s well-prepared with quality ingredients.
Because this was lunch on a work day, I abstained from cocktails—which was a bummer, because Kitchen 86 + Bar’s cocktail menu looks fantastic, as does the happy hour. I also love the fact that Kitchen 86 + Bar is open until 2 a.m. every night!
I can’t wait to be welcomed back in the future to enjoy libations—and some more of that fantastic boom-boom shrimp.