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Melvyn's Restaurant Review - Palm Springs' Celebrity Eatery

By Hettie Lynne Hurtes/Photos by Randy Roberts

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Melvyn's at the Ingleside Inn

If you’re heading to Palm Springs, you simply must pay a visit to Melvyn’s. This restaurant proudly claims that anyone of note who’s been to the desert in the last twenty five years has paid a visit to this legendary eatery.  Located in the beautiful Ingleside Inn in downtown Palm Springs.

Melvyn's elegant dining room

Melvyn’s is named for its owner/proprietor Mel Haber, an institution in town, having established six previous establishments including the famed Cecils, a million dollar disco that once rivaled Studio 54, attracting such celebs as Kirk Douglas, Joan Collins, Jack Paar and John Travolta.  At one point Mel owned four restaurants within a ten block area and became the largest employer in Palm Springs other than the hospital.

Melvyn's bar room, a favorite watering hole in Palm Springs

The bar at Melvyn’s is a popular hangout for, not only celebrities, but the local folk who enjoy classic cocktails and an understated elegant ambiance. The bar itself is a fully restored 1895 carved oak and mahogany structure with celebrity photos, old and new, gracing the walls.  And talk about THE place to be seen: June Allison was married here!

Melvyn's charming lounge where there's piano music nightly

The Casablanca Room is an intimate piano bar lounge with entertainment and dancing nightly starting at 8pm.  Every Sunday from 3:30 to 7:30 there’s also a musician jam that’s been going on for the twenty five years Melvyn’s has been in existence. 
Open for lunch and dinner, the restaurant has a reputation as an expensive dining spot, where in reality it’s pretty reasonable.  In fact there’s a nightly “Unbelievable” dinner menu that includes soup, salad, entrée and beverage for $19.95!  And the entrée include Roast Pork Tenderloin, Swordfish and Filet Mignon.  What a deal!

Mel Haber, owner of Melvyns (center) with Maitre'd Brian Ellis (right) and Captain Bobby Bolduc

Mel is apparently a good boss.  His captain, Bobby Bolduc, has been with him thirty five years, as has his maitre’d Brian Ellis.  Chef Juan Casteneda started as a dishwasher twenty eight years ago.
There are three dining rooms and a charming indoor patio, popular for the lunch crowd.  The décor is traditional with elegant window treatments, antique-looking upholstered chairs, crystal chandeliers and high quality oil paintings.The food is good, and there are items on the menu you may not have seen in years including Oysters Rockefeller, Steak Diane and Crepes Suzette.  This truly is a “blast from the past” menu with many of the dishes prepared at your table.

An item hard to find these days: Oysters Rockefeller

The Oysters Rockefeller ($14) is a rich dish of six large oysters baked in a Pernod-spinach topping glazed with a Hollandaise sauce.  A little lighter: the Lobster Cocktail ($14) featuring chilled lobster with your choice of a traditional cocktail or Dijon mustard sauce. Or, for a mere $225 an ounce you can sample that rare delicacy, Beluga Caviar.Dinner entrees are all served with a choice of house salad or soup of the day, something you won’t find at most gourmet restaurants.  And portions at Melvyn’s are ample. The famed Chateaubriand for two ($59) is prepared at your table.  This roasted tenderloin is served with a Sauce Bordelaise and a bouquetiere of fresh vegetables.

Steak Diane, a dish prepared at your table

You can also watch Bobby prepare his Steak Diane ($29.50), something he’s done so many times he’s closing in on his millionth! If you’re not familiar with Steak Diane, it’s a filet mignon, prepared with shallots, French mustard and a red wine demi-glaze.  The aroma permeates the room.

Filet of Sole Piccata, a favorite menu item

The Filet of Sole Piccata ($25) is another favorite, sautéed with Chardonnay, fresh lemon and capers, and a not-so-recognized Veal Ingleside ($27) tender veal prepared with avocado and a mousseline sauce (a sauce to which whipped cream or beaten egg whites are added just prior to serving), on a bed of fettucine.

Veal Ingleside served with fettucini and vegetables

Of course with many dishes prepared at your table, you can’t leave out traditional desserts such as Cherries Jubilee ($15), Bananas Flambee ($15) or Crepes Suzette ($15). 

Crepes Suzette, prepared at your table

I tried the Crepes, thin French pancakes flamed with Grand Marnier and a sprinkling of powered sugar.  It’s like having a dessert along with an after-dinner cordial…pretty powerful stuff!  I’d suggest limiting this dish to those over 21!
Yes, Melvyn’s is a throwback to another era, so if you’re pining for the past, you’ll be in retro heaven here.

200 W. Ramon Rd.
Palm Springs, CA 92264
(760) 325-2323

Published on Dec 31, 1969

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