Sunday, September 18, 2016

This Deli Is No Mirage

Sherman's Deli and Bakery
73-161 Country Club Dr. 
Palm Desert, CA 92262

Katie's family likes to do things together. They gather for every holiday, they see each other at least three times a week, and they even like to take vacations together. A Foreign concept for some, including myself. Last year the ten of us went 26 miles across the sea to visit Catalina. and for this years family excursion/extravaganza we went the opposite direction and headed to the heat of the desert, Palm Springs.

What to do when it's 107 degrees outside in August? Well if you're Katie and me, you show your advancing age by slathering yourself in 100 SPF sun block, and aided by a list of addresses of celebrity homes, you get some much-needed space from the rest of the family. We saw the homes of Dean Martin, Elvis Presley, Liberace, and Peter Lawford's former residence, a historical house because this is where it was reported that JFK first met Marilyn Monroe. Yes, now we really do seem old. All this running around in the desert sun really built up quite an appetite, so we met up with Katie's parents and sister at Sherman's Deli in Palm Desert.

I had done some research before we came out this way, weeded out all the restaurants that close for the summer, and was pretty impressed with the reviews of Sherman's, which was pretty near to where we were staying. Sherman's is definitely a Palm Springs institution. Founder Sherman Harris at one time had five restaurants in operation in the Coachella Valley, including running the concessions and Alpine Restaurant at the Palm Springs Ariel Tramway. His deli across the street from The Spa Hotel in Palm Springs was a magnet for old Hollywood stars, like Frank Sinatra, Rita Hayworth, Bob Hope and others.

Now there are only two locations of Sherman's Deli left, this one, and one in Downtown Palm Springs, right near the Hard Rock Hotel. Sadly, Mr. Harris passed away eight years ago, but his cuisine lives on, as his children now run the business. They must be doing their father proud, as we had about a twenty-minute wait for lunch at 1:30 on a recent Saturday afternoon. The parking situation at this end of this awkward shopping plaza, which also features Bristol Farms and Papa Dan's Italian Restaurant can be a little tricky, but we persevered and found a spot.

Once inside Sherman's, the front of the restaurant is dominated by a huge bakery case, which featured numerous baked goods, which were hard to resist as we waited for our table. Once seated, the menu at Sherman's, along with any good delicatessen, can be a little overwhelming with all of their choices. They offer tons of sandwiches, appetizers, full on dinners, soups, salads, and as if all that was not enough, they offer breakfast all day. We made our choices as quickly as we could and waited for our food to arrive.

It's almost a sign that when you're in a deli, and they serve you a platter of pickles and kraut, that you're in for a real treat, and I was hoping that was going to be the case at Sherman's. I'm not really a big pickle fan, but everyone else enjoyed these. The kraut was more to my liking, and I had more than my fair share, but I had a big sandwich on the way out for me, so I stifled my cravings for the kraut and waited for my sandwich to arrive.

Both Katie and her sister Emily got the lite lunch special, which comes with your choice of soup or salad. Emily, to no one's surprise, went with the Garden Salad option.  This was a pretty big side salad, which included mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, shredded carrots, cucumbers, and some very good herb encrusted croutons. She only ate half, (surprise, surprise), but shared the rest with her husband Jason. Also not shocking, Katie had the Matzo Ball Soup. She calls this Jewish miracle medicine, something that will cure whatever ails you. She really enjoyed this version at Sherman's. It was a very traditional preparation as the matzo ball rested in a chicken broth with sliced carrots and celery. I thought the matzo ball here was just okay on its own, but was made much better with the inclusion of the chicken soup.

Knowing Katie's dad Dennis for over seven years now, I've noticed that he really has an affinity for Chili ($3.65), and he held true to form here by ordering a cup at Sherman's. This chili looked pretty tasty, with plenty of beans and cheese added, along with a mound of chopped white onions. In these seven years, I've also become accustomed to him not really being too descriptive when it comes to his food, but he did say this was a decent bowl of chili, but not the best he has had.

Entrees were out next, and we might as well stay with Dennis's choice, the Hot Corned Beef ($14.75). This basic sandwich was not what Dennis had ordered. He had said he wanted pastrami, we got charged for pastrami, but this was definitely corned beef. Unfortunately, this was a pretty dry corned beef. This sandwich definitely needed some cheese and maybe some thousand island dressing to help this out. Dennis was not too excited by this sandwich, and after allowing me to try the corned beef, I see what he means. One positive note, the potato salad was probably one of the best I have had. Good smooth texture to it, with a great flavor. If this sandwich had been mine, I might have even added the potato salad to the sandwich to make it better. It was that good.

Jason was the only one of us to take advantage of Sherman's all day breakfast policy, and he sure was happy that he did. He could not stop raving about this Corned Beef Hash and Eggs ($12.95). He felt that this is the best version he has ever had of corned beef hash. It was crisped on the grill, and had an excellent meatiness to it. He missed the boat by not getting his eggs served with a runny yolk, which always makes things taste better, but he was completely satisfied with this meal. This also came with some seasoned potatoes and his choice of toast. Glad to see Jason so happy with his meal.

Next up, with an assist with the excellent hand modeling by my mother in law, was the Chicken Albacore and Egg Salad Sandwich ($14.95). This sandwich was served open faced, with plenty of garnishments placed around so Lynn could customize her sandwich. I'm not a big fan of tuna or egg salad, but she seemed pretty pleased with this plate. I thought this was an odd combo. She claimed that the tuna was fresh, and the egg salad was dressed simply, exactly how she enjoys it. She selected coleslaw as her side item, and was pretty excited by it.

Both Katie and Emily ordered the Lite Lunch Special ($13.95), which included the soup and salad above, along with their choice of a half a sandwich. As fate would have it, they both ordered Turkey, and loved it. The turkey was peppery, moist, and sliced thin. It came with plenty of produce, deli mustard on the side, and some very solid rye bread. This was a great lunch for lighter eaters.

Of course I had a big dilemma as to what to have at Sherman's. So many choices, and I knew I only had one chance to make the right selection. A lot of pressure, but I'm happy to report that I got it right. Quite simply, this Grilled Reuben ($15.95) rocked. One of the better sandwiches I have had in some time. Let's start with the pastrami. It was spiced nicely, had a little fat included here, which added even more flavor, and it was moist. The Swiss cheese melted into it wonderfully, the tang from the sauerkraut really balanced this sandwich out, and the toasted rye added a nice crunch, while maintaining the integrity of this magnificent sandwich. Probably one of the top Reuben's I have had. This was a legit sandwich, and right up there with some of the greats. As if the sandwich was not enough, the cottage fries that came with this were fantastic as well. These little fried discs of spuds might not be to everyone's liking, but for me they invoke a memory of when I was a kid, and we'd go to breakfast at this restaurant in Anaheim Hills called Betsy Ross, which later turned into MacArthur's. Both places had these same kind of potato chip/french fry mash up, and I loved them then, as I do now.

I should have put a dollar bill next to this Sticky Bun ($6.75), that I got to go, so you could see how big this really was. It was almost the size of my head. I got this sticky bun because they sold off the last cinnamon roll about ten minutes before I got to Sherman's. This sticky bun was good and buttery, but really needed some added sweetness to take it to the next level of greatness.

I have to say that I was pretty impressed with my meal Sherman's. Yes, I was not really into the corned beef, I thought the sticky bun needed more, and the matzo ball could not stand on its own, but the rest of the meals here really shined, with my Reuben taking center stage, and nailing it. A month later, and I still look back on that sandwich with fondness, and that says something since we are out to eat almost every night. If you're a fan of classic delis, and find yourself out in this area, this is a definite must try. I did not catch our servers name, but he was right on top of all of our needs, and kept things moving along smoothly. Prices might seems a little high for sandwiches, but well worth it for pastrami of this quality. Eating here made this family trip a little more tolerable. Just kidding family.

Out of five roadrunners, (not only because this desert community is full of them, but also because the College of the Desert, which is nearby, has this fast running bird as its mascot), five being best to zero being worst, Sherman's Deli and Bakery gets 4 roadrunners.

For more information about Sherman's Deli and Bakery, head to their website here:

Sherman's Deli Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

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