Background: Restaurants in this town have elevated brunch to an art form. While tourists partake of breakfast, lunch and dinner, it's the locals who have the most to gain from brunch. Spencer's at the Palm Springs Tennis Club is a welcome addition for those of us who will endure the summer heat.
On a recent Sunday morning, we made reservations that, while recommended, probably weren't needed. We were among the dozen parties enjoying the club-like atmosphere at Spencer's.
Restaurant: When asking for directions, you're told to follow Baristo Road to the mountain. And sure enough, when you can go no farther, valets await you at the turn-around in the cul-de-sac at the tennis club.
The restaurant is to the left as you enter the tennis club. Through the windows and the misters' spray lie the tennis courts, the club's cabanas and pool and the historic view of the mountains.
The restaurant features an 8-stool bar in the corner of the main dining room.
Two booths and banquets seat 20 with eight tables for four in the center of the room, and another six tables on the patio overlook the tennis courts.
It's a sophisticated yet comfortable room. The tables are well-spaced, the light is good, and you can hear conversation at your table.
Servers were pleasant and clearly knew their regular diners -- all part of the country club atmosphere that spreads through Spencer's.
Menu: The brunch menu offers six breakfast entrees, from eggs Benedict to pancakes; a selection of salads from $7 to $18.50, and three entrees of steak, swordfish and smoked salmon. There are also two sandwiches, including a tempting lobster club, $14.75, and three kinds of burgers.
We started with mimosas, $6.50, the traditional brunch champagne and orange juice combination. The tasty mix was served in tall flutes.
I ordered the grilled swordfish served on an artichoke salad with basil caper sauce, $16.50. The two small grilled white-meat steaks were served on a mélange of chilled chopped tomatoes, quartered artichoke hearts and capers. The swordfish was presented with a small sprig of rosemary sticking up from the steak.
My companion opted for the Asian Chicken Salad, $12.50. The shredded Napa cabbage was tossed with julienne of carrots, snow peas, cucumber and a mango-sesame dressing and topped with strips of crunchy fried wonton.
Fresh, warm bread twists covered in sesame seeds were presented with butter a bit late in the meal, but they were tasty all the same.
We'd lingered over brunch and the time had wandered into the lunch range, so we opted to try a pair of desserts, each $6.50.
The créme brûlée was rich and smooth and came topped with a hefty burnt sugar top. The chocolate cake was served warm with a dollop of whipped cream and two small scoops of vanilla ice cream. Both desserts were sprinkled with fresh raspberries.
Final thoughts: The breakfast menu includes lighter fare from the bakery, omelets and other egg dishes and griddle favorites, including potato pancakes with warm apple compote and sour cream. Dishes range from $5 to $9.
For dinner, you'll find a sophisticated selection of appetizers from Seared Hudson Bay Foie Gras to Tuna Tartar and pastas that include asparagus ravioli and seared rabbit risotto.
The club-like atmosphere and the tempting menu will draw you back to Spencer's for other meals.