May 25, 2013 – Dinner at Johannes, Palm Springs, CA.

We told our neighbor Ian that we were heading to Palm Springs for the weekend and he insisted that we try Johannes. He said it was incredible food, just perfection. Dam if he wasn’t dead on! Johannes is in a busy gay section of Indian Canyon Drive. It’s utilitarian exterior gives way to postmodern ceiling decorations of different colored acoustic panels arranged and hung at angles. When you walk into this restaurant you will be amazed at how modern yet soothing the décor is. The restaurant was recently remodeled by the Chef Johannes brother, and the stunning blond wood, stainless steel accents, warm colors, eclectic art, and even the strategically placed Granny Smith apple centering each table all invite the diner into another culinary world. It is a fun place that serves some serious food. Our server was Barrie was an added plus, she really knew her stuff. She was as engaging as she was efficient. Her knowledge of the food preparation was superb and her recommendation’s as to wine pairings was impressive.

Executive Chef/Owner of Johannes known as “The Eclectic Chef”. Johanne was born and raised in a small mountain village in Tirol, Austria. His mother inspired him at the age of 7 to start cooking simple things like cookies and cakes. Among his accolades is being the Corporate Chef of Seabourn Cruise Line for 5 years, and has been a guest chef at some of the top hotels in the world. He embraces local, and sustainable options including organic and beyond organic products whenever possible. Everything at Johannes Restaurant is prepared fresh daily. He has received hundreds of awards from local, national and international media including Bon Appètit, Restaurant Writer’s Association, Wine Spectator, Alaskan Airlines, Elle Magazine, Out and About, Desert Entertainer, The New York Times, Zagat, Open Table, Travel and Leisure, The Desert Sun, Yelp and more.

Here’s what I tried:

Watermelon Gazpacho, this soup is very refreshing and bold. It has so many great extraordinary blending.

Wild Mushroom soup, with tarragon crème fraiche, and truffle oil. Well what can I say about this one, except for fabulous. I love the flavor of woodsy mushrooms and this soup has it all.

Smoked Idaho Steel head trout, with potato, dill and granny smith apple salad, and horseradish grain mustard dressing. What a lovely way to experience smoked trout. The presentation alone will make your senses soar.

8 Escargot in baked in garlic, breadcrumbs, and green herb butter. Quite the different presentation, no escargot plate, it is just served on a flat plate, but one baked bubbling layer. It is good, but I would skip next time.

Cheese Spaetzeln, sautéed house made noodles melted in Gruyere and fontina cheese, wild arugula, onions, and chives. So rustic and homey, yet lots of daring cheese favors.

Honey and Soy glazed duck breast, sliced roasted duck breast, with beluga lentil salad, tiny greens, and raspberry vinaigrette. So delicate, so simple, really one of my favorites here.

Weiner schnitzel, roasted parslied potatoes, cranberry, lemons, cucumbers, in dill sour cream dressing. I don’t think I have ever had this before; it had all the bells and whistles that are supposed to be with Weiner schnitzel. I would order this one again.

New Zealand grass feed young lamb rack, white beans, zucchini, grilled onions, triple dijon mustard sauce. The lamp was too undercooked. And I just could not get up the nerve to ask for more flame. I think if it had been cooked better I would have liked it more.

Crispy roasted half duck, braised red cabbage, polenta cake, tangy orange sauce. OK, hands down my favorite item of this wonderful tasting.

Halibut, one of Johannes specials, this fish was amazing, another great menu item.


Apple Strudel, wow, wow, wow. Really terrific, so much great sweet flavor.

Tahitian Crème Brulee, done with the right amount of vanilla and crème, fantastic.

Orange Cinnamon Chipotle Chocolate mouse. I liked this desert as well.

Here is the cocktails and wines I tried:

ECU Cucumber infused Organic Vodka, Cucumber Spear. This is done to perfection, beautiful presentation, very drinkable.

Watermelon Martini, this martini is a yummy reminder of how marvelous anything with watermelon is.

Chardonnay, Trinitas, Carneros, 2010, this Chardonnay went good with the escargot. It is fruity but not a lot of oak, so it was a nice blend.

Pinot Grigio, Vandori, Delle Venezia, IT., 2011, this wine worked great with the trout and the halibut, paired great with the mellow smokiness of the fish.

Grunerveltliner, Laurenz V, Charming, Reserve, Kamptal, 2011. I liked this wine with the mushroom soup, it had the right amount of crispness to hold up to the woodsiness of the mushrooms.

Sauvignon Blanc, Miner, Napa Valley, 2011, this wine is very drinkable, nice and light went great with the cheese spaetzeln.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Round Pond, Estate, , Napa Valley, 2011. Somehow, I paired this one with the weiner snitzel, but I would also pair with the duck.

Pinot Noir, Baileyana, Firepeak, Edna Valley, 2010. I like this wine with the duck and the lentils, full bodied, but elegant.

Zinfindel, Turley, Juvenite, CA, 2011. I liked this one with the duck, it just added the right amount of acidity needed to complete the dish.

The vibe at Johannes was upbeat, colorful, and fun. There was a good crowd the night we ate there and I can see why. The food was perfection. There is no detail too small everything was not only fantastically prepared but the presentation was beautiful. Complimentary colors, sauces, and artistically drizzled in geometric patterns and vegetables arranged in wonderful designs. Some of our meals looked like paintings!

At the end of the meal I was full but wanted more. It’s difficult to describe the food because words fail. Johannes is a visceral experience you just have to be there and in the moment to believe it. One meal their and your hooked. Also you’ll immediately understand what I mean about describing your meal. It is with my strongest recommendation that I tell my readers to make it to this restaurant somehow you will thank me!

196 S Indian Canyon Dr.
Palm Springs, CA 92262
(760) 778-0017

Guest columnist Steve Fasanella



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