My wife and I were on our way back to Nova Scotia from Palm Springs after four months escape from winter, when the Best Western front desk recommended Temper Grille as a place we could celebrate our 58th wedding anniversary with fine dining.
The restaurant calls itself a grille, but we consider that it is really a great tapas bar/restaurant. As the items are tapas style, being small portions with no accompaniment, we ordered a number of plates, which come in the order they are ready, not in the order they are requested. And, because of the number of dishes we ordered, we shared everything.
The first item to arrive, after an initial glass of Riesling for my wife and a glass of red from a bottle of Napa Valley Duckhorn 2009 Merlot, which we afterwards shared, was a spinach-artichoke dip with pita bread triangles. The cheese did not overpower the separate flavours of the two vegetables. Very good.
Next to arrive were four lamb "lollipops" nestled on a bed of lettuce. These were four frenched tender lamb chops, each enveloped in a rich red wine sweet and sour sauce. Exquisite!
Our selection of sea bass in a lemon sauce followed. It was a succulent thick piece of sea bass, just undercooked enough that it was still beautifully moist inside. So often, fish is overcooked and dry. This was not. The lemon sauce was delicate enough for the fish that it complemented it well and was so irresistible my wife mopped it up with some of the pita bread.
Two items arrived together next: ahi tuna and asparagus. The tuna was just seared and crusted with sesame seeds, leaving the full flavour of the thin slices lingering in your mouth, just waiting for the next slice. The asparagus was cooked to an al dente perfection, mingling into which were some sauteed onion pieces.
The last tapas item to arrive was the duck bites. These were bite-sized cubes of blackened duck breast in a black cherry sauce and drizzled with a creamy white sauce. While my wife termed them delicious, I thought they were a little bit dry. Perhaps my opinion was biased by a couple of duck I had marinated overnight and spit-roasted a few days earlier at a daughter and her husband's house in Denver.
We are not dessert lovers and, most often, we turn down the offer of desserts, but this evening was a celebratory evening, so we threw reason to the winds and selected two menu items, the strawberry shortcake and chocolate truffles. Oh, they both were so very sinfully delicious.
The ultimate surprise of the evening was to be informed by the wonderful staff, who had been so professional and friendly the entire evening, that our Denver daughter and husband had paid for the wines and desserts. Very acceptable, especially as we had selected a bottle listed at $74: however, it was a Tuesday and Tuesday nights are half-priced wine nights.
A most wonderful evening of dining and we would go back to the Temper Grille any time and thoroughly recommend it to others.
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