France meets Belgium at Pomme Frite

Estelle Shanley Special to The Desert Sun September 16, 2004

November 29, 2016

stacks-image-c635ee9-800x600This small and charming European-style restaurant nestled in the heart of downtown Palm Springs offers French and Belgian cuisine that speaks brilliantly to the gastronomic obsession of both nations.

Good-natured rivalry
Jean-Claude Constant, host and owner of Pomme Frite, somewhat reluctantly comments on the long-held belief that the Belgians taught the French to cook. “The French do well,” he concedes. “But I think the Belgians work more at food.”

Despite this good-natured national rivalry, Pomme Frite is as decidedly French as it is Belgian.

The restaurant presents an impressive wine list and a large assortment of Belgian beers. One needs to remember that the country is renowned for its 400 beers, produced by hundreds of small breweries. As evident in this small and wonderful restaurant, the Belgians use beer the way French chefs use wine.

Eating in harmony
You’ll find this dramatically and deliciously evident in the Flemish-style prime beef stew priced at $16.95. It satisfies big appetites, literally bursting with flavor.

The mussels are another choice specialty here. A generous two-pound serving of Maine black mussels is offered in nine varieties, modestly priced at $16.95. There are mussels Provencale, mussels with saffron or lemongrass broth, garlic or curry or blue cheese with cream. Mussels are also featured as an appetizer, sautéed for $7.95.

The French country-style paté at $8.95, laced with cognac and pistachio, is a dream. Don’t miss the saffron cream soup, indescribably delicious and a must for $6.95.

Unfortunately the Vichyssoise, although perfectly flavored, was — Mon Dieu! — served at room temperature. Properly chilled, it should become a hit.

The prime “Chateau” sirloin served with pepper sauce for $20.95 was so heavy on the sauce it doused the green beans. Otherwise, the meat was excellent.

California Bouillabaisse at $22.95, rich with fresh fish and superb broth and the North Atlantic salmon, both rank as high as the sand dabs almandine, priced at $17.95.

Quaint and cozy
The restaurant seats more than 60 inside and on the patio. Although tables are close together, noise is minimal. In the quaint and cozy European ambience of Pomme Frite, it is not difficult to relax and enjoy dinner and good service.

Don’t forget dessert
All desserts are made on the premises. Try the Belgian chocolate mousse on a bed of crème Anglaise; it cannot be rivaled. The vanilla ice cream profiteroles are also excellent, and the poached pears in red wine offer a refreshing, sweet change of pace.

Source: The Desert Sun