Pomme Frite: More than just potatoes

Maureen Daly Special to The Desert Sun March 29, 2006

November 29, 2016

stacks-image-1191f10-532x800It could be dinnertime, 5:30 to 11 p.m. any night of the week, or 12:30 to 3 p.m. for lunch on Saturday or Sunday and Pomme Frite will be serving French and Belgian cuisine. A pot of steamed black mussels in saffron broth; chicken vol au vent, chicken and mushrooms in puff pastry; marinated tiger prawns in chili, ginger sauce with lemon grass risotto; chef’s homemade ravioli of the day; oven-baked onion soup; frisee salad with poached egg and bacon; steamed artichoke with two dipping sauce; New York steak; rack of lamb; crème brulee with berries; prime chateau sirloin steak, and so much more.

Pomme Frite is a popular fixture for tourists and repeat local customers for the past seven years on Palm Canyon in Palm Springs.

Owner is Jean Claude Constant, an accomplished chef, now exuding energy, hospitality and his entrepreneurial skills at Pomme Frite.

Talented chef Steven Brown is new in the starring role of head chef. Brown was trained at culinary college in Santa Barbara, and prepared gourmet menus at top Southern California dining spots, including the excellent, now-closed Desert Sage restaurant in La Quinta.

Inside and patio seating here combined adds up to 100 diners. Reservations are advised since customer demand can reach to 120 and more on a weekend night.

Inside dining room, which also houses the bar, has table/chair arrangements and wall banquettes with cushioned seats. Walls are neatly decorated with framed antique French posters and vintage photos of French and Belgian chateaux.

Table china is simple white in quality and design; glassware and table silver are well chosen.

With such a varied and tempting menu, it is somewhat difficult to decide just what an average single check might be, lunch or dinner, but management told us the average single luncheon check, Saturday or Sunday only, and without bar service, is about $10-$15. A dinner check, again without bar, could be $25-$30.

A note about a pair of offbeat and interesting dining opportunities. There are seven different Daily Specials, one for each day of the week. Price range for these complete dinners is $19-$26. They are: Monday, lamb loin medallions; Tuesday, Belgian meatballs; Wednesday, prime chateau steak “Oscar”; Thursday, Angus beef “stroganoff”; Friday, veal shank “osso buco”; Saturday, rack of lamb; Sunday, roast duck “a l’orange.”

A second dining opportunity offered nightly is Chef’s Prix Fixe Tasting Menu, four courses at $39 a person.

Here is a sample menu served in mid-March: Dungeness crab cakes, avocado puree and medley of bell peppers. Ravioli du jour, a chef’s creation. Grilled New Zealand double lamb chop with wild mushrooms demi-glace, goat cheese gratin potatoes, proscuitto wrapped broiled asparagus. For dessert there is frozen raspberry soufflé with pomegranate reduction.

Belgian specialties include steamer pot of black mussels in the following ways: Garlic and cream, marinere, saffron broth, provençale and more.

Pomme frites are, of course, those slim double fried potatoes, French-style fries, served with dipping sauces.

Little things that mean a lot: Tiny pickled cocktail onions served with imported French cognac pate; toasted pine nuts and bits of roquefort cheese in the petite salade, the warm baguette, broiled snail and herb stuffed, served with a full order of traditional escargots, and the three dessert spoons presented with a single order of excellent crème brûlée.

Maureen Daly is a novelist and freelance writer based in Palm Desert. She can be reached at P.O. Box 3875, Palm Desert, CA 92261