By Morgan James
Immediately upon stepping inside the doors of Clementine I am brought back to the time I spent in Europe when I was 17. It offers unique Mediterranean ambiance right in the middle of Palm Desert. Incredible! I am greeted swiftly as we stroll through a whimsical array of gift items and then seated at a quaint table bordered by Mediterranean blue chairs, in front of a delicatessen display case that looks simply scrumptious. I don’t even dare sneak a peek at my menu as my eyes are delightfully feasting upon the decor surrounding me, basking in the glow.
I sat down with owner, Jennifer Douheret, who simply radiated joy and pride as she shared the romantic story of how a food order of Clementine’s by her now husband, Christophe, turned into two children, dogs, and an absolutely charming restaurant. Six years strong this month, Jennifer shares Clementine’s mission statement which continues to hold passionately true: “We seek to bring the warmth, beauty, and soul of the “Countries of the Sun;” describing Italy, France, Spain, Morocco, and other countries along the Mediterranean. We greet our guests as family, and share our passion for authentic European foods, fine gifts, and delightful treats. Anyone who enters Clementine arrive a stranger and leaves a friend; our success hinges on our authenticity, affordability, and gracious hospitality.”
While the service and food was delightful, the bakery was delicious, the coffee concoctions incredible, and bar area bright and beautiful, I was also mesmerized by the Take Away delicatessen, which offered a rich array of meals I could carry home. Using high quality ingredients, handmade doughs, hard to find cheeses, and local produce when possible, your evening’s gourmet meal is just one stop away. In fact Jennifer shared that Clementine’s party platters are “the secret weapon of many local party hostesses here in the Coachella Valley.” A natural progression from the delicatessen to the party platters would be full-fledged catering, which Jennifer advises, is their next goal. For now, pick up fanciful summer creations such as Christophe’s “Tomato Flowers” which tout gorgeous local tomatoes from Wong Farms in Mecca topped with creamy burrata cheese; fresh orange juice from Perricone Farms in Beaumont; or a “Mango Summer Salad” with fresh mangos also from Wong Farms.
Jennifer explains that while great food is key, Clementine’s success is also largely due to the treatment of her guests. She and Christophe have always been “very hands on” and their staff is “simply amazing” she gushes. While Clementine is closed for the Summer, each Fall the staff continues to arrive back with travel stories of their own, many of them having traveled together, now finally understanding how true the ambiance of their workplace is to the real world. The close knit feel carries throughout the community of guests that arrive to sip a caramel cafe latte while visiting friends, to gentleman who, like clockwork, arrive several days per week to enjoy breakfast while typing away on a work laptop. Guests very often pop into the gift shop on the way to a party, knowing they can count on finding the perfect $20-$25 gift of lavish dish soaps, salad plates, and unique kitchenware for that special occasion, or every day.
Another huge success of Clementine has been their social media presence. Currently the restaurant ranks number one on Yelp, providing credibility to out of towners. This was tremendous in bringing in Coachella Fest and Stagecoach goers this year. Follow Clementine on your choice of social media and be sure to get to know Jennifer and Christophe while experiencing the Mediterranean right here in Palm Desert.
One last note: Now that Clementine is open 7 days a week from 8am-3pm, the lovely spacious venue is open after 3pm for events such as wedding receptions, corporate meetings, reunions, and birthday celebrations.