Some of my favorite restaurants cannot be found on El Paseo or downtown Palm Springs, rather, they are tucked away in quiet, unassuming country clubs.  Recently, I discovered AJ’s on the Green and their Splash Bar, inside Date Palm Country Club in Cathedral City.  I was not sure what to expect when I invited my guests to join me for dinner, but I left thoroughly impressed with the ambiance and variety of menu items offered.

With mountain views and the surrounding lake, this little restaurant pairs ambiance with a large menu to please everyone.  Whether you are looking for a hot dog or a Certified Angus New York Strip Steak, AJ’s has it all.  We were seated in the intimate dining room and immediately felt like family.  Owners Art Herrera and John Farrow were friendly and welcoming, creating a relaxing environment for me and my guests.  We began with a cold beer, Hangar 24 Oktoberfest.  This seasonal beer is not easy to find but quite easy to drink!  We were having so much fun we had not even looked at their impressive menu.

Our first course was a rice and mozzarella ball, breaded and fried; an interpretation of an arancini, served with a hearty tomato sauce.  We followed this with a few salads.  Their Caesar salad is unique, offering flavors of lemon, thyme and fresh mint.  Another favorite was the Caprese Salad: red and yellow tomatoes layered with fresh mozzarella cheese and basil, drizzled with a balsamic reduction and extra virgin olive oil.  We were off to a great start and decided to order red wine to pair with the main course.

Upon John’s recommendation, I ordered the Red Wine Braised Angus Short Ribs.  I could tell this dish was slow braised for hours by the way it easily fell apart.  It was incredible to say the least!  Another favorite at the table was the Grilled Shrimp on Sugar Cane Skewers.  These shrimp were cooked perfectly and the sugar cane offered just a subtle touch of sweetness.  The dinner menu also offers classics like Fish & Chips, Chicken Parmesan and Double Cut Pork Chop, all including potatoes and seasonal vegetables.  The flavors are intense and the price is affordable for any budget.  We finished our meal with pumpkin cheesecake, triple layered chocolate cake and my favorite, the sweet and savory salted caramel cake.  Our after dinner drinks were enjoyed outdoors, around a large fire pit overlooking the lake.

AJ’s also serves breakfast and lunch and each month, Chef Art Herrera provides a $5.00 menu in the Splash Bar.  With happy hour offered weekdays from 4pm to 6pm and 8:30pm to close, one can easily find time to entertain friends and family without breaking the bank!  Another great feature to this restaurant is the night life.  You may find me there Friday and Saturday nights on the karaoke stage, providing I drink up enough courage!  Karaoke is from 8pm to midnight on Fridays and from 7pm to 11pm Saturdays.  For more info call 760-202-1111.

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