What: Willie’s shepherds pie

Where: 1501 Uptown Gastropub, 1501 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

How much: $28

Contact: 760-320-1501; www.1501uptown.com

Why: It’s comforting and delicious.

When I heard that Willie Rhine and Chad Gardner had decided to open a new restaurant at this particular moment in our history, I was stunned.

Rhine and Gardner aren’t dummies; they’re two of Palm Springs most-accomplished restaurateurs, after all. But … the opening was announced in the middle of the worst spike of the pandemic thus far. (We really, really hope “thus far” can eventually be deleted from that sentence.) And who knows how long it’ll be before at-capacity indoor dining is allowed again? Had they lost their figurative marbles?

Nope. These two smarty-pantses knew exactly what they were doing.

While the Chris Pardo-designed building that now houses 1501 Uptown Gastropub is quite nice, the restaurant is mostly a series of big patios—perfect for outdoor, socially distanced dining. And the 1501 menu may be Gardner’s best yet. His spin on the gastropub concept includes small plates (including a fantastic sourdough pretzel), soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers and 10 or so “big plates,” such as braised Kobe short ribs, lobster claw and blue crab mac and beer cheese, and the star of the show: Willie’s shepherds pie.

The menu description sounds pretty darned simple: “slow braised grass fed filet mignon, sherry, mirepoix, caramelized mashed red potatoes, English peas, cave aged cheddar.” But that simplicity belies the delicious flavor therein.

The beef—so tender, so rich—is the star of the dish, with the cheese-coated mashed potatoes almost worthy of equal star billing. But combine the two … and wow. So, so good. This dish is a perfect example of the gastropub concept: It’s seemingly simple food that’s been substantially elevated.

Get thee to 1501 to try it—but you’d best make reservations, as the place is now the hottest restaurant in the valley. Smarty-pantses, indeed.

Jimmy Boegle

Jimmy Boegle is the founding editor and publisher of the Coachella Valley Independent. He is also the executive editor and publisher of the Reno News & Review in Reno, Nev. A native of Reno, the Dodgers...

5 replies on “The Indy Endorsement: Willie’s Shepherds Pie at 1501 Uptown Gastropub”

  1. Actually if you’re using beef of any type it’s more correctly referred to as Cottage pie. Shepherds pie uses lamb. I make Cottage pie on a fairly regular basis. But, I wouldn’t’/ don’t use filet.
    I was wondering why yours is so pricey and now the recipe explains it.

  2. $28 ,!!! And as someone else commented shepherds pie is made with lamb not beef. And why waste a very expensive cut of beef on something that should properly be slow braised. And what’s with the”english peas”, are there any other kinds ? And what are caramalized potatoes? This is such an affected description for what should be basic pub food. And way over priced

  3. To JT and Steve: Whatever you want to call it, unless you’ve tried the dish, then you shouldn’t be commenting on the quality or pricing of the dish. Trust me: It’s good and worth the price in my book.

  4. This review is spot on! 1501 Uptown Gastropub is Fabulous and Willie Rhine is the most gracious restauranteur I have ever met. 1501 exceeds expectations in every way. The atmosphere and vibe is truly cosmopolitan, from the moment I walked in, I fell in love with the Gastro Pub. The staff is incredible, so well trained that you feel like every one of them is proud to be there and glad you came. Impeccable! The hostess was sincerely welcoming, professional, and caring, the busser Alma introduced herself and said welcome, the server Zoee knew the menu inside and out made recommendations that were intuitive and she was smart, professional, and attentive. The manager passed by twice and worked the room touching every table at least twice and exuded warmth, grace, and aplomb.

    The charcuterie was inspired, with delicate fragrant meats and the perfect selection of cheeses, candied and roasted nuts. The short ribs were mouthwatering, tender, succulent, and aromatic. The rich luscious layers of supple potatoes and crisp root vegetables were the perfect complements to this dish, a happy marriage of textures and distinct flavors.

    The atmosphere at 1501 is hip, stylish and adds a whole new dimension of comfortable chic urban dining to Palm Springs. Truly world-class and a jewel in the crown of the Palm Springs vibrant dining scene!

    1501 Uptown Gastro Pub and their sister restaurant “849” are some of the reasons I am moving to PS full time.

  5. Although I haven’t ordered the shepherds pie at 1501 Uptown Gastropub on my two visits, friends have. I had a bite on the last visit, and it was delicious. The price seemed reasonable since the portion was quite generous, and the restaurant’s atmosphere and great service is worth some extra bucks. Even though my mahi mahi dish was good, I so wished I would have ordered the shepherds pie or cottage pie or whatever you want to call it. The pork shoulder is also one of the better dishes on the menu.

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