By Morgan James

Just one year open and BB’s at The River has become a popular spot to experience California cuisine for desert regulars and out of towners alike. Not much has changed in decor, since the restaurant took over the location of Acqua Pazza between Babe’s and Cheesecake Factory at The River in Rancho Mirage. The splendid open air patio is still impressively hung with cooling misters and surrounded by stunning, tranquil waters and spectacular mountain views. A sign hanging upon the patio wall states “Dog Friendly for Friendly Dogs” which speaks “Woof!” to many valley dog owners. Inside the ambiance hasn’t changed much either- comfortable, open, and appealing. After being greeted promptly and seated immediately by friendly server, Sam, I looked forward to sampling the fairly extensive lunch menu.

Within minutes I was offered a basket of freshly baked bread rolls which were fluffy, slightly sweet and a cause to return all on their own. For a lunchtime menu I was surprised by the vast selection of appetizers and salads, inclusive of popular dishes such as Spicy Bubbling Artichoke Spinach Dip, Parmesan-Herb Calamari Strips, and Kalbi Ribs. I ordered the Blue Cheese and Candied Walnut Salad to start out and while I enjoyed the candied walnuts and even the unique accent of radishes, I was disappointed at the simple, balsamic vinaigrette which was mostly vinegar. However, I did enjoy the Tortilla Soup which was creamy and flavorful.

A fair amount of pizzas, burgers, and sandwiches were offered next so I decided on the BB’s Famous BBQ Chicken Pizza. The pizza was definitely tasty, but interestingly citrus filled, and lacked both spice and barbeque flavor altogether. I asked my server Sam about this and he confirmed with the kitchen that the BBQ sauce is made with both lemon and lemon zest. I can appreciate the uniqueness of it, but I didn’t feel the dish matched the description. Regardless, I was then on to the Genoa Pesto Chicken Pasta which was incredibly flavorful. Diced chicken, penne pasta, and mushrooms combined with just the right amount of pesto, while sun dried tomatoes added a bright, tangy burst with each bite. Taste buds completely satisfied.

While prices are fair throughout the menu ranging from $12.95 for a burger to $15.95- $24.95 for a dinner entree, BB’s at The River offers a very generous Happy Hour on almost the entire menu. Prices drop $3 to $5 per item ALL day and ALL night 11am to 9pm Monday through Friday. Plus cocktails, wines by the glass, and beer are $2 off. On weekends I was pleasantly surprised to find that the restaurant is open 8am to 9pm and serves breakfast. Prices again are extremely fair for the breakfast dishes- from $9 for Violet Beauregard (blueberry topped pancakes) to $13 for indulgent Crab Cake Benedict, and $8.95 for endless mimosas.

Owner, Jack Srebnik, briefly visited my table to check on my meal and then again upon my walking out the door. With restaurant week just around the corner, June 3rd through the 12th, BB’s at The River is sure to be visited with a slew of first time guests and I am sure the prompt, friendly staff will be prepared. For more info call 760-862-9800 or go to www.bbsattheriver.com.

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