By Raymond Bill

Working in a fine dining restaurant, I often hear clientele speaking of their experiences at other dining venues and how they compare. The best advertising in the Coachella Valley is Word of Mouth. One name that repeatedly catches my attention is a little Belgian restaurant named, Si Bon. This quaint bistro is located in a shopping center but I have learned that in this town, that means nothing. I was excited for the opportunity to enjoy a dinner date with my girlfriend and see what the buzz was all about.

We arrived in the Albertson’s shopping center at prime dining time and the parking lot was packed! The first thing to catch our eye was the restaurant sign in a playful Disney font. The dining area is not large, though it was mentioned that they would be expanding to take over the adjacent unit. We were fortunate to dine on the patio as the weather was perfect. The chef was visiting a nearby table and worked his way toward ours to greet us. I always enjoy seeing the chef visit with his dining guests. We were greeted by a charming server named, Hernan, and after serving us a cocktail, he shared some specials with us that would make our decisions that much more difficult.

We began with escargot served on a savory Belgian waffle with fresh herbs and butter. It was delicious and generous in portion. We accompanied our appetizer with a salad of Brussels sprouts leaves and roasted maple bacon with hints of Reggiano parmesan cheese and a light but creamy dressing. The appetizers were truly remarkable! We noticed the menu included a list of side dishes with an item we could not resist. After our appetizers, we shared a side of lobster macaroni and cheese. The pasta was actually more of a fusilli, or cork screw pasta, but the combination of sweet lobster and savory cheddar cheese was heaven!

Though the specials were enticing, we ordered some favorites recommended by our server. The beer braised beef short ribs were tender, full of flavor, and served with a large helping of sautéed vegetables and hand cut Belgian fries. Finally, a restaurant that can master the art of slow braising! We would also enjoy the fresh Sole stuffed with Maine lobster and a creamy eggplant puree, served over mashed potatoes with fresh vegetables. Once again, outstanding! Our portions were larger than expected so we happily enjoyed what we could not finish, the following day.

Si Bon Belgian Bistro has a full bar and a very reasonably priced wine list. There were not many “high end” wines on the list as all were priced under $100. The food was the star of the show and that would become clear when our desserts arrived. Many who know me are aware that I am not easily impressed with dessert, in fact, I would rather pass completely, but when I dine in a restaurant for the first time, I always try one (or two). The Belgian chocolate mousse was sinfully rich and decadent! The crème brulee crepe with fresh berries was simply perfection. The crepe was thin and sweet, filled with creamy custard and fresh berries. Every bite was better than the last. If you are looking to treat yourself, you must stop in for this dessert!

Overall, I am very impressed with this unassuming little gem at the border of Rancho Mirage and Palm Desert, on the southwest corner of Monterey and Country Club. I look forward to having breakfast and lunch in my future visits. Si Bon is open at 8am for breakfast and lunch begins at 11am. Check them out online at www.sibonranchomirage.com or call them at 760-837-0011

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