CVIndependent

Sat11252017

Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

Jimmy Boegle

What: The Tillamook cheddar beer soup

Where: Ein Brathaus, 117 La Plaza, Palm Springs

How much: $5.95 for a bowl; $4.50 for a cup

Contact: 760-300-3601; www.einbrathaus.com

Why: It’ll warm you up and please your taste buds.

On Ein Brathaus’ menu, next to the listing for the Tillamook cheddar beer soup, it says—rather adorably—“seasonal item.”

The calendar says it is late fall, with winter just around the corner. But we live in the Coachella Valley, and to nobody’s surprise, it was damn near 90 degrees outside as I enjoyed this “seasonal item” at Ein Brathaus.

Yes, a warm, hearty soup has a definite utility when the weather outside is frightful—and the odds are decent that we will, at some point, have a coldish day or three here soon ’round these parts. When those days are here, I suggest that you waste no time in getting to Ein Brathaus, located in the newly renovated space that formerly was home to Delicatesse in downtown Palm Springs’ La Plaza.

Not only will this cheese-beer soup warm you up; it’ll elate your taste buds. It’s everything a soup like this should be: rich and creamy, with a ton of flavor thanks to the beer and seasonings. It’s not too salty; it’s juuuust right. The soup can also, as our friendly server pointed out, make a great dip for Ein Brathaus’ soft pretzels ($4.50). I’ll take that a step further and say that it’d serve as a great dip for everything on the menu (including various German sausages, hot dogs, a pastrami sandwich, a buffalo chicken sandwich, etc.), except for perhaps the desserts and the buttermilk waffles. (Upon further reflection, I am not ruling out the waffles, either.)

This soup is so delicious that I’ll eat it whether the temp is 40 degrees Fahrenheit, or 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). Perhaps the good folks at Ein Brathaus will consider making it a soup for all seasons.

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.

Thanks to the exploding popularity of craft beer, large-scale beer events these days are becoming ever-more common.

But it’s safe to say that the Palm Springs Air Museum’s annual Props and Hops Craft Beer Fest is the only large-scale beer event around these parts where you can sample fantastic brews and go for a ride in a vintage airplane.

The Sixth Annual Props and Hops Craft Beer Fest will take place from noon to 5 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 18. Air Museum spokesperson Ann Greer pointed out how great of a venue the Air Museum is for events; the Air Museum now hosts everything from Palm Springs Leather Pride to Splash House after-parties.

“The Air Museum in general is a very unique facility, with 86,000 square feet inside, and 40,000 square feet outside,” Greer said. “It’s near the airport, so there are no sound issues or concerns about the volume of the music, and there’s plenty of parking.”

Unlike Splash House and Leather Pride, Props and Hops is the museum’s own event—and that means it has a definite airplane vibe. This year, pilots of three different airplanes will be offering attendees rides for an extra fee: a P-51 Mustang; a DC-3; and the B-25 “Executive Sweet.” Rides on the DC-3 can be purchased in advance via the Air Museum for $195 (which includes festival admission); rides on the other two planes must be purchased at the event, or by calling the plane owners directly. (See the Props and Hops website for more information.)

If you have no interest in a plane ride, but you love craft beer, no worries: Props and Hops will be featuring beer from 20-plus breweries, including our valley’s very own La Quinta Brewing Co. and Coachella Valley Brewing Co. Food from In-n-Out Burger, G’s Taco Spot and Knights of Columbus Pizza will be available for sale.

“It’s very laid back,” Greer said. “You can be outside or inside, whatever your preference. If you want, you can just hang out, listen to music and watch planes take off.”

As for that music: Alex Harrington will be providing the day’s entertainment, along with singer David Macias. Harrington—the former Coachella Valley Independent resident DJ—is one of the valley’s most in-demand DJs, and he said he’s a fan of Props and Hops.

“Opportunities to play venues like this don’t come along too often,” he said. “It’s kind of hard to vibe off of airplanes taking off, but the energy at the event is really good.”

This will be the first Props and Hops to include the Palm Springs Air Museum’s brand-new hangar, which focuses on the Cold War, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Greer mentioned that Props and Hops is a useful event for the Air Museum, because it gives the facility exposure to a younger crowd.

In a similar vein, Harrington said he’s excited about the fact that Props and Hops will introduce his brand of electronic dance music to people who have never heard him perform before.

“I love to bring my sound and the idea of DJing to new crowds,” Harrington said.

The Sixth Annual Props and Hops Craft Beer Fest takes place from noon to 5 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 18, at the Palm Springs Air Museum, 745 N. Gene Autry Trail, in Palm Springs. General admission is $40 in advance, or $45 at the door, and includes a commemorative tasting mug and eight 4-ounce beer-tastings. Designated drivers pay $5 at the door. Props and Hops is a 21-and-older event, although well-behaved dogs on leashes are welcome; attendees are encouraged to bring folding chairs. For tickets or more information, visit pspropshops.com.

Last week, the Independent published the final ¡Ask a Mexican! column, as penned by my friend and colleague Gustavo Arellano.

I was shocked on Oct. 13 when I got the news that Arellano—a longtime OC Weekly scribe who had served as the paper’s editor and spokesperson for many years—had stepped down. He quit, he said, because he refused to lay off half of his staff, and the owner would not accept any of Arellano’s counter-proposals (one of which included cutting Gustavo’s own salary in half).

At first, I fully expected Gustavo’s column to continue on in some form, albeit with a different name than ¡Ask a Mexican!, because the OC Weekly owns the rights to the name. In fact, in the version of this column that ran in the November print edition, I said the column would probably continue, as that was what I’d been told. However, after we went to press, Gustavo let me know the column would indeed end; he explained the decision in the final column, which ran last week. While I understand the decision, it breaks my heart. It was a fantastic column—and the first “regular” feature to ever start running at CVIndependent.com, way back when we were in beta five-plus years ago.

As for Gustavo’s plight … this is how it often goes at newspapers these days. While I have no inside knowledge of the OC Weekly’s financials, I do know that many layoffs at newspapers over the last 15-plus years have happened not because the publications were losing money—but because profits weren’t high enough.

This fact is one of the reasons I decided to leave my job as the editor of the Tucson Weekly in 2012, and then start the Independent here. The then-owners of the Tucson Weekly, Wick Communications, treated both me and the newspaper very well during my decade-long tenure there—but I knew that wouldn’t last forever. Sure enough, a little more than a year after I departed, Wick sold the Tucson Weekly—and the paper has been subjected to serious budget cuts ever since.

As bleak as all of this sounds … there is reason for hope. Last weekend, a number of my colleagues gathered in Chicago for the annual Local Independent Online News Publishers (LION) Summit. (Unfortunately, I was unable to attend.)

LION is a vibrant and growing organization of mostly newer, mostly online local-news organizations across the country. Almost all of us “LIONs” are small, scrappy and hardworking. Oh, and one more thing: We’re innovating. We’re finding new ways to tell our communities’ stories. And we’re investing in our publications rather than making cuts to keep shareholders or wealthy owners happy.

Gustavo Arellano is a gifted, hustling hard-worker who will land on his feet, so I am not worried about him. I’m also upbeat about the future of journalism. However, I am saddened by the huge loss that Orange County will suffer as a result of the decline of its independent alternative newspaper, the OC Weekly.

As for that aforementioned November print edition: It’s our annual Pride Issue. It’s on newsstands throughout the Coachella Valley right now—and we will be at the Greater Palm Springs Pride Festival this coming weekend. Come say hi! Thanks for reading, as always, and don’t hesitate to contact me with comments or questions.

New: So Cal-Based Chain Luna Grill Opens Its Doors in Palm Desert

Luna Grill claims to be “one of the country’s hottest fast-casual concepts.” While we are not sure exactly what that means, we are sure that the 39th and newest Luna Grill is located in Palm Desert, at 73405 Highway 111, in Palm Desert—and we’re also sure that the Mediterranean-style food being served there is pretty darned delicious.

Independent contributor Kevin Fitzgerald and I were fortunate enough to attend a pre-opening training-day lunch at Luna. I ordered the chicken kabob and gyros plate ($14.95) while Kevin had the chicken wrap ($9.50), and we split the handcrafted spinach pie ($5.25) as a starter. While we had minor quibbles—the chicken in Kevin’s wrap was a little dry, and the rice on my plate needed a bit more flavor—everything was delicious (especially that gyro meat!).

The first Luna Grill opened in 2004, and there are now locations across Southern California, as well as in the Dallas, Texas, area. The company is in a “strategic growth push,” according to a news release, so don’t be surprised to be more locations popping up.

For more information, or to order food online, visit lunagrill.com.


Roc’s Firehouse Grille Cancels NFL Sunday Ticket in Protest of the Protests

On Oct. 4, ROC’s Firehouse Grille, located at 36891 Cook St., in Palm Desert, made an announcement on Facebook: Owner Roland O. Cook was cancelling the restaurant’s subscription to DIRECTV and NFL Sunday Ticket due to the ongoing player protests, during which some players are kneeling during the national anthem.

In the lengthy announcement, Cook—a former firefighter—said that he supported the rights of the players to protest, but that cops and military officers are his friends, and he thinks political divisions are “killing” the country.

“It’s a sure recipe for destroying our children's future,” he wrote. “Damn, can’t you leave politics out of football and just play the game on Sunday? Emphasis on ‘play’ and ‘game.’”

The announcement was followed by hundreds of comments both in support of and opposition to ROC’s decision. The public comment chain is at times moving, at times horrifying (with some definite ignorance and racism here and there), and completely fascinating.

While I disagree in principle with Cook’s decision, I admire his willingness to take a stand for something in which he believes. Beyond that, I’ll leave the pros-and-cons discussion of these player protests—started by Colin Kaepernick, regarding the disproportionate number of deaths of minorities at the hands of law enforcement in this country—for other sections of this newspaper, and simply refer you to www.facebook.com/ROCsFirehouseGrille, where you can read Cook’s announcement and the many, many comments that follow.


In Brief

So long, Appetito. The “Cal-Italian Deli” at 1700 S. Camino Real, in Palm Springs, has closed its doors. A sign went up saying the place would be closed for deep cleaning … and then everything inside disappeared. … Also closed: Palmie French Restaurant, which was located at 44491 Town Center Way in Palm Desert. … And now some good news: Numerous new restaurants continue to open along Highway 111 in Palm Desert. In addition to Luna Grill, the second valley location of Dragon Sushi will soon be opening—if it hasn’t already—at 72261 Highway 111. The original Dragon Sushi, at 82451 Highway 111, in Indio, is wildly popular. Let’s hope this new Dragon Sushi location lasts longer than a short-lived Cathedral City incarnation did three years ago. Search for Dragon Sushi Palm Desert on Facebook for more info. … Just down the street, the second Pokehana is open, at 73405 Highway 111, following in the footsteps of the original location in La Quinta. Learn more at www.pokehana.com. … Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, at 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, has hired Alen Badzak as the new executive chef. Badzak’s resume includes stints at the Europa Restaurant at the Villa Royale Inn, The Nest and The New York Company Restaurant. He replaces Jennifer Town, who moved over to Melvyn’s/Ingleside Inn. Learn more at purpleroompalmsprings.com. … Local wine-seller and social club Mood Wine is holding a red-wine tasting at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 15, at Tipper’s Gourmet Marketplace, at 276 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Food bites will be paired with the wines on offer; tickets are $57.30. Find more information and a ticket link at www.facebook.com/moodwinellc. … Mark your calendars: The Palm Desert Food and Wine festival will return March 23-25, 2018. Get tickets or sign up for updates at www.palmdesertfoodandwine.com. … If you don’t want to wait until March for local food-fest fun, no worries: The Rancho Mirage Wine and Food Festival is slated for Feb. 17, 2018. Head to www.ranchomiragewineandfoodfestival.com for tickets and details.

What: El Cubano

Where: Chef Tanya’s Kitchen, 706 S. Eugene Road, Palm Springs

How much: $9.50

Contact: 760-832-9007; cheftanyapetrovna.com

Why: It is a tasty creation all its own.

As I ordered my El Cubano sandwich at gourmet vegan restaurant Chef Tanya’s Kitchen, the woman taking my order asked if it was my first time at the restaurant.

“Yep!” I said.

“Oh, you’re going to love it!” said the woman behind me.

As I waited for my to-go order—all of the limited seating space was taken—we chatted a bit. I told her I was trying Chef Tanya’s Kitchen—the newest endeavor of Tanya Petrovna, the founder of the Native Foods Café—even though I am a confirmed meat-eater, because so many people had raved to me about the place. The woman explained she’d recently become vegan, and was losing a lot of weight as a result.

We then talked about the menu—salads, sandwiches and specials, like tacos on Tuesdays, and dinner items on Wednesdays—and I asked if she’d ever ordered the Pastrami Mami sandwich. No, she responded; she’s not a fan of sauerkraut.

“Oh, that sandwich is what made me start to like sauerkraut!” another diner exclaimed.

I thought to myself: Wow, the customers here are really gung-ho about the food at Chef Tanya’s Kitchen!

When I got home and took a bite of my sandwich, I began to understand why. When done right, a Cuban sandwich is one of my favorite foods. Chef Tanya’s version subs out the usual ham and pork for slow-roasted citrus and garlic seitan, and while I can’t say the seitan made me forget about the absence of those meats, it made for a damn tasty sandwich. It melded with the tomatoes, pickles, onions, lettuce, mustard, mayo and freaking amazing bread to create a hot-pressed delight. To my palate, this El Cubano didn’t taste exactly like a Cuban sandwich; instead, it tasted like something different—but equally delicious.

I may still be a confirmed meat-eater—but I’ll certainly be a regular at Chef Tanya’s Kitchen. Her vegan fare is simply fantastic.

What: The Sushi Boat

Where: Hamachi Sushi, 31855 Date Palm Drive, No. 11, Cathedral City

How much: $14.99

Contact: 760-832-6160; www.hamachisushicc.com

Why: It’s a great value—and it’s delicious.

It was a Friday, around lunchtime. I was at Date Palm Drive and Ramon Road in Cathedral City to check the Independent’s mailbox. That morning, I’d sent the October issue to press, and after a long week of editing and ad-wrangling and pagination, I was tired and hungry.

After getting my mail at the UPS Store, I wandered a few doors down to Hamachi Sushi. I’d never eaten there before, and fresh fish sounded good.

I perused the menu, which features the items one would expect a Japanese/sushi joint to have. One item in particular stood out, so I chose that as my lunch: The sushi boat, featuring 10 pieces of assorted, chef’s-choice sushi, as well as a California roll, for $14.99. Seeing as the pairs of nigiri on offer at Hamachi are a reasonable $3.99 or more by themselves, this was a fantastic deal. (There’s also a sushi boat on the lunch menu; it’s $3 less, but only includes six pieces of sushi. That’s not as good of a deal, so I went with the “regular” sushi boat.)

I soon enjoyed some tasty miso soup and a small salad (included in the meal). When my lunch arrived a short time later, in a cute boat-shaped ceramic dish, I was impressed: Pairs of tuna, salmon, shrimp, snapper and a marinated fish of some sort were intermingled on the dish with the California roll pieces.

Everything was fresh. Everything was delicious. It was exactly what I was looking for—a filling, tasty lunch that would help me rejuvenate my tired body. It was also a bargain.

Thanks for making my stomach happy—and helping recharge my batteries, Hamachi Sushi. That sushi boat was exactly what I needed.

Let me tell you a little story that illustrates how what we do here at the Independent is different from what most other valley publications do.

At first glance, nothing seems too complex or crazy about “Turnout Turmoil,” Brian Blueskye’s recent political story (which serves as the cover story for our October 2017 print edition). Essentially, it’s an 1,100-word story about a recent change in state law regarding when cities and other local governments have their elections, and how local cities are dealing with this new law.

Simple, right? Actually, it’s not simple at all.

The story behind the story: Brian worked on this piece, off and on, for six weeks. This was initially slated to be last month’s cover story, but we shelved it because, after two weeks of work (again, off and on), we were still figuring things out.

Turns out we weren’t, and aren’t, the only ones still figuring things out. The law, signed into effect by Gov. Jerry Brown two years ago, mandates this: If local governments don’t hold their elections on the same dates as statewide/federal elections, and they have been seeing a significantly lower turnout than statewide/federal elections, they have to move their elections to the same dates as those statewide/federal elections.

Unfortunately, the language in this new law is confusing as hell. This has left cities, school boards, water boards and other local governments around the state scratching their figurative heads as they try to determine whether or not they, in fact, have to move their election dates. Locally, three cities may or may not be affected by this new law. One has decided to move its election immediately; another has decided not to move its election for now; and the third doesn’t yet know what it is doing.

Because of all the confusion, some officials were slow to get back to Brian; others never did get back to him. Of course, Brian, too, needed to take a lot of time to figure out what the law meant (while working on everything else he had to work on, of course).

Some other publications in town are satisfied with running press releases. Yet others are content with simple, easy, space-filling pieces. (And don’t get me started on the publications that take paid advertising and present it as editorial, without disclosing that.)

Here at the Independent, we don’t do any of that. While we’re far from perfect, we do our best to make sure our reporting is fair and accurate—even if we tackle a complex issue, and it takes us six months to figure things out.

As always, thanks for reading the Independent. Don’t hesitate to contact me with feedback or questions, and be sure to pick up the October 2017 print edition, hitting streets this week.

When It Comes to Restaurant-Inspection Ratings, Please Calm Down

In the September 2015 issue, I used this space to examine the ridiculousness of public freak-outs over restaurant-inspection ratings. Now, 25 months later, I shall do so again.

Here’s why: On Friday, Sept. 1, some very bad things happened to Manhattan in the Desert, at 2665 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. First: The restaurant had refrigeration problems. Second: Inspectors from the Riverside County Department of Environmental Health showed up.

As a result of all this, according to the inspection report: “Due to (a) lack of adequate refrigeration, (the) facility … decided to voluntarily close.”

That’s bad enough. Making matters worse: This happened on a Friday … before a holiday weekend—Labor Day Weekend, to be exact. This meant the restaurant had to be closed during what would normally be a rather lucrative four days, until it could be re-inspected by the county on Tuesday the 5th—even if the refrigeration matter were fixed well before that.

Making matters much worse … the inspector, as they are mandated to do, placed a big, red “C” sign, for all the world to see, near the closed restaurant entryway.

Of course, someone took a picture and posted it on Facebook; that pic was then passed around, giving trolls and idiots a chance to have a field day.

Yes, “C” ratings are a big deal. A “C” or even a “B” means the restaurant failed its inspection, requiring that it be re-inspected again, often the next business day, until it receives an “A.”

My problem with all of this is context: My research uncovered at least nine other Coachella Valley businesses that got “C” grades during inspections over the last 12 months, with many dozens of others getting “B” grades—which, again, means failure—often with scores of 80 or 81, meaning they’re on the cusp of “C” grades. You probably heard of the mess regarding Manhattan … but did you hear about many of these other restaurant-inspection failures? Unless you’re constantly checking the county website, no, you did not.

Some restaurants that fail inspections are genuinely dirty or poorly managed; many of them are not—they just had a bad day, like all businesses have. This is why Manhattan in the Desert will not lose a dime of my business. See you there soon, I hope.


California Barbecue Company Moves to Indio's Club 5

On Aug. 15, we published a nice piece at CVIndependent.com about Reggie Martinez and his California Barbecue Company.

At the time, Martinez—who before had been at Neil’s Lounge, in Indio—was serving up smoked meats and his famous mac-and-cheese to rave reviews at the Red Barn, in Palm Desert.

However, shortly after the article was posted, the Red Barn and Martinez parted ways. When we asked Martinez what happened, he declined to share the details.

Martinez’s smoker, fortunately, did not stay in storage for long: He is now serving his delicious barbecue and sides at Club 5, located at 82971 Bliss Ave., in Indio.

For more information, call 760-863-6971, or visit www.facebook.com/thecaliforniabarbecueco.


In Brief

New: Azúcar Restaurant and Bar. The tiny restaurant at the La Serena Villas, at 339 S. Belardo Road, in Palm Springs, has been creating a buzz with its tasty fare, such as shrimp and scallop ceviche ($16), Kobe beef sliders ($23) and blackened salmon ($25). Lunch and dinner are served Wednesday through Sunday, as is breakfast on Saturday and Sunday. The restaurant offers a limited menu on Mondays and Tuesdays. Check out the menus at laserenavillas.com/azucar-restaurant-and-bar. … If you’re a fan of cigars and tequila, take note: Las Casuelas Terraza, at 222 S. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, will be holding its latest cigar and tequila dinner at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 11. Rancho Mirage’s Viva Cigar Lounge is providing the cigars, and the tequila on offer is Hornitos Black Barrel and Siete Leguas Añejo. $35 will get you all that plus a carnitas bar. Call 760-325-2794 to reserve your spot. … Mark VanLaanen, a now-former co-owner of Trio Restaurant, recently announced he’ll soon be opening On the Mark just a few doors down at 777 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. The shop will sell cheese, meats and other yummy foods—along with beer and wine. Watch www.onthemarkpalmsprings.com for updates. … Coming within the next few months to 36101 Bob Hope Drive, near Gelson’s: O’Caine’s Irish Pub. Watch www.facebook.com/ranchomiragemarketplace for updates. … Good news for fans of patio seating and Sunday tea dances: Oscar’s Café and Bar, at 125 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, in downtown Palm Springs, again has a liquor license. Ownership changes there led to drama, which led to the current owner not having a liquor license, but that has been resolved now. … We’re hearing rumors that a high-end sushi and cocktails joint is coming soon to Palm Springs. Keep your fingers crossed, and watch this space.

When I heard that the San Francisco-based PlumpJack Group had purchased the legendary Ingleside Inn and its Melvyn’s restaurant following the death last year of longtime owner Mel Haber, my feelings were decidedly mixed.

On one hand, Melvyn’s is an institution. The old-school recipes, the tableside prep, the … uh, past-normal-retirement-age maître d’s—these things make Melvyn’s a Palm Springs classic, unlike any other restaurant in the valley.

On the other hand … Melvyn’s, located at 200 W. Ramon Road, has a lot of room to improve. Both the food and service in recent years have been wildly inconsistent, and it seemed management was doing little to reach new customers.

Turns out that Melvyn’s new executive chef, Jennifer Town, shares a lot of the same opinions.

Town, a graduate of the New England Culinary Institute, has an impressive resume, to say the least. She was the head chef for the Italian Olympic Team (!) and worked at The Ritz Carlton, St. Thomas, before coming to the desert to help open the Ace Hotel and Swim Club. Before starting at Melvyn’s, she spent the last several years wowing customers at Michael Holmes’ Purple Room.

As the PlumpJack Group works on a property-wide renovation, Town has spent the last couple of months working on Melvyn’s menu—not renovating it, but making little changes here and there. She said she’s very cognizant of how beloved Melvyn’s is in certain circles.

“My first month or so here, I did not change the menus at all,” she said. “I looked at the recipes of all of the old favorites, and worked on making sure they’re made consistently.”

While she didn’t change the menus, she did start making little improvements. Examples: She updated the mushrooms in the steak Diane. She removed the sherry from the veal Ingleside. She bumped up the quality of the blue cheese used in salad dressings. She started ordering higher-quality beef, from Creekstone Farms.

“I am making tweaks and adding extra flavors,” she said. “My goal is for customers to notice that the food is better, but they can’t pinpoint the changes.”

She said customers should also not expect any wholesale changes to the items on the main menu; about 90 to 95 percent of it will remain the same. She does plan on adding a few things that weren’t offered before at Melvyn’s, such as a scallop dish, a Chilean sea bass and perhaps a halibut entrée.

Fans of Melvyn’s tableside prep have nothing to worry about, either: It’s not going anywhere.

“It’s such a spectacular show,” Town said.

Having said that, she did say she’s working on making sure the food cooked tableside, like the food made in the kitchen, is more consistent.

“No matter who you order from, you should get the same product,” she said.

The one area in which she’s making big changes, she said, is the bar. Don’t worry; the martinis and the old-school piano vibe will still be present, and the full menu will still be offered. However, sometime in October, she’s planning on introducing a brand-new bar menu, featuring a dozen or so appetizers and lighter dishes, including deviled eggs ($7), a grilled flatbread ($12), crab cakes ($15), a burger ($15) and steak and pom frites ($20). Yum.

Town said the staff has so far been very welcoming to her and her vision for Melvyn’s.

“Generally speaking, most are excited,” she said. “Change is hard, but they can see where they needed to make little changes for the better.”

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