CVIndependent

Thu08222019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

What: The Pesto Chicken Ranch Club at TKB Bakery

Where: TKB Bakery and Deli, 44911 Golf Center Parkway, Indio

How much: $10.99

Contact: 760-775-8330; www.tkbbakery.com

Why: It’s delicious, pure and simple.

TKB Bakery is one of the five best-rated restaurants in the United States.

This is not hyperbole; it’s fact, according to the granddaddy website of crowd-sourced reviews, Yelp—and while Yelp reviews are about as trustworthy as Sean Hannity on Quaaludes, it says a lot that TKB has been one of Yelp’s Top 5-rated restaurants now for three years in a row. No other restaurant in the whole U.S. of A. can say that.

I recently visited TKB—a family-owned affair tucked into an Indio industrial park not too far off of Interstate 10—for the first time, and I can now say I completely understand why TKB has received such crowd-sourced acclaim. The counter service is friendly (and brand-new customers get a free cookie!). The vibe is decidedly fun. And the sandwich I had—the pesto chicken ranch club—was downright spectacular.

You may pay more for a sandwich at TKB than you would at other fine sandwich joints, but the $10.99 I shelled out for my sandwich was worth every penny. The pesto was amazing; the fresh Parmesan roll was revelatory; and the chicken was moist and flavorful. The complementary ingredients—provolone, bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato and onion, along with mustard, mayo and ranch dressing—were all top-notch … and that free cookie? It was the best peanut-butter cookie I’ve ever eaten.

TKB has been around for a while; there used to be several other valley locations which became victims of the Great Recession. Right now, there’s just one TKB (it stands for “The Kids’ Business, by the way), located in the middle of nowhere—and if you love great sandwiches and baked goods, you need to seek it out. It’s one of the country’s top-rated places to eat for a lot of damn good reasons.

Published in The Indy Endorsement

What: The California Split Sandwich

Where: The Lunch Box, 74868 Joni Drive, No. 1a, Palm Desert

How much: $6.95 (plus $2.75 for a cup of soup)

Contact: 760-610-1136; thelunchboxpd.com

Why: This sandwich is satisfying.

Even though I knew I was in the right place, a small part of me wondered if I was being punked when I turned off Cook Street onto Joni Drive in search of The Lunch Box.

All I saw at first were warehouses and industrial buildings—but then I spied the sign above The Lunch Box’s door. Whew. Trust me: You’re unlikely to accidentally stumble upon this highly regarded sandwich joint. But stumble upon it, you should: The sandwiches here are mighty tasty.

I ordered the California Split sandwich—applewood-smoked bacon, melted jack cheese, avocado, tomato, sprouts and mayo on warm sourdough—along with a cup of the soup of the day, creamy chicken and vegetable. (“Think the inside of a chicken pot pie,” as the gentleman behind the counter accurately described it.) Only a few minutes later, my food arrived; I tore off a couple of paper towels from the roll on the table, and dove in.

It was a rainy day—we’ve been having a lot of those lately, yes?—and therefore, this was a perfect lunch. This classic sandwich was warm and flavorful. The bacon was crisp, and the avocado fresh; I swear my palate detected some Italian dressing in there somewhere, too. The sourdough was surprisingly light and fluffy, yet strong enough to keep the sandwich together—although the bread didn’t have to do its job for long, as it was quickly consumed.

This place is all about sandwiches (although several salads and even a hot dog are offered as well), and no one item will set you back more than $6.95. The Lunch Box is a great spot for simple yet well-done lunch fare at good prices—in a most unlikely location.

Published in The Indy Endorsement

What: The bacon, tomato, fontina and basil panino

Where: Clementine Gourmet Marketplace and Café, 72990 El Paseo, Palm Desert

How much: $10

Contact info: 760-834-8814; www.clementineshop.com

Why: The pickles brighten things up nicely.

For the first couple of bites, it was simply a sandwich—a tasty sandwich made with great ingredients, yes, but still just a sandwich—that was pricey and on the small side.

And what was on the plate alongside said sandwich, frankly, wasn’t looking too great. The potato chips were unremarkable, and the vegetables, as you can see above, looked … well, past their prime, to say the least.

But then something possessed me to take a bite of one of those carrots … and I felt really, really stupid. I should have known better.

Turns out those pieces of carrot and broccoli were pickles—tart, vinegary pickles. And it turns out that those pickles served as a palate-cleanser, of sorts, that helped make subsequent bites of that sandwich sing.

Before a pickle, a bite of the sandwich was good, but dominated by bacon, with the other flavors well in the background. After a bite of pickle, the pesto jumped front and center, with the basil bright and floral. The fontina’s sweetness also came forward, and the bacon moved from being the only star to being one of the three ingredients on the sandwich marquee.

This visit to Clementine was my first, and it sure won’t be my last. The café part offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the gourmet-marketplace part offers all sorts of goodies, including a pasta bar, refrigerated foods (the soups got my attention), a deli and a patisserie that’ll add a half-inch to your waistline just by looking at it.

Who could have known that among all these great foods, some rough-looking pickles would be so important?

Published in The Indy Endorsement