By Rick Riozza

Now that’s a headline we’re all happy to see during these pandemic times!

As most of us are definitely discerning the dog days of a hot summer—along with everything else, it’s nice to see, contemplate & experience some regularity of a good deal at one of our local restaurants.

Hot off the press release comes the welcoming news: “While the warmest days of summer are with us—and ahead of us—nothing complements outdoor dining more than a beautiful bottle of wine with a great meal. At LULU California Bistro, our expanded patio along Palm Springs’ famous Palm Canyon Drive is the perfect place to enjoy a savory summer dinner with that special wine. To thank our loyal local guests and visitors who travel from all over the world to see us, LULU is offering a superb selection of California and imported bottled wines at half-price Sunday-Thursday from now until the end of September.”

Wow! The bottom line here is that we can wine & dine on fabulous food and fancy bottles of wine at HALF PRICE in the midst of outdoor-style patio dining. This column has always touted the quality and excellence of the dishes and meals provided at LULU. We are always comforted with the memories of the wonderful winemaker pairing dinners we’ve enjoyed through the years: the wine and food have been first class!

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Interestingly, back in March, we were invited to LULU to taste through a bevy of beverages offered by the cracker jack team of cocktillians using the Deep Eddy Infused Vodka brand lineup. The inventive cocktails were tasty and this column was poised to relate the refreshing news of the long-awaited LULU libation list. Unfortunately soon thereafter, all beverage bets were off as bars & eateries were forced to close. But we’ll take a rain check on that Deep Eddy endeavor and look to a redux deluxe on a new energized drinks list.

As of late, we’ve all seen the touch and go of getting back to some semblance of normality; but the phrase that no one seems to really embrace—the new normal, has us on our toes.

In response to the COVID-19 health crisis, LULU has added strong safety protocols which include: Expanded patio dining along Palm Canyon Drive at socially-distanced tables & seating; installation of a commercial air filtration system in the restaurants alcove-style patio; the intelli-home microclimate system which continuously kills over 99% of bacteria, mold, viruses and other pathogens in the air, on surfaces and clothing; easy-to-use virtual wait list; use of paperless menus, easily accessed by a QR code (printed disposable menus on request); condiments on request; plexi-glass dividers between booths and high-traffic areas; enhanced cleaning measures for tabletops and all frequently-touched surfaces; and finally, staff training and protocols (i.e., requirement for all employees to wear masks and gloves, socially distanced servicing of tables, etc.)

Restaurateur and LULU founder, Jerry Keller joins in, “Welcome back to LULU California Bistro! We’re honored to have you joining us this summer. To thank you, our loyal guests, we’re offering a very special savings on our superb wines to accompany your dinner on Lulu’s expanded patio. It’s our way of saying thanks and supporting good cheer during challenging times. As always, and especially this summer, we promise to provide great food, drinks and service in the safest way possible, as our top priority is everyone’s well-being in our restaurant.”

All right then vino lovers—let’s check out the Summer Wine Specials. These are impressive bottle prices. At first glance, I thought the list was made up of “wine by the glass”—with the prices not indicative of any discount. Strike that observation! Indeed, the list is made up of full bottles! For those of us reluctant to get off the couch and attempt some social-distancing dining on a restaurant patio—well, enjoying a bottle of wine at half the price at a great restaurant, may just do it.

For those familiar with the Domino brand wines, their entire line-up that includes Chards, Merlots, Pinot Griges, and Cab Sauvs, are all priced at $12 a bottle. Other full-bottle Chardonnays on special are Kim Crawford Unoaked at $19; Kendall-Jackson Vintners Reserve at $20.

Sauvignon Blancs include Kim Crawford, New Zealand at $20; Rombauer, Carneros at $25. A Pinot Grigio, the Ruffino Lumina at $18. Their rosés include Candy at $15, and the very popular French rosé Gerard Bertrand’s Cotes de Roses at $19.

On the red side of things, the 14 Hands Columbia Valley Merlot at $15, and, for Cabernet Sauvignon, some great values—Robert Mondavi Private Selection at $16, and Rodney Strong Sonoma at $25

I’ve never seen prices like these for such reputable brands at any dinner restaurant. All of the above 50% discounted bottles of wine are available at LULU from Sundays through Thursdays, 3pm to 8pm with the purchase of two entrees at the table. “There’s always a party at LULU, and the party has returned.Cheers! & Bon Appétit!

For those still wishing take-out, LULU’s to-go menus have also become a popular option. For dining at home, to-go menus are available with curbside pick-up from Palm Canyon Drive or by delivery in the Palm Springs area from 11am – 8pm, Monday – Friday, and from 2pm – closing on Saturday and Sunday. To place an order, please visit lulupalmsprings.com. Lulu has always been a leader in setting the highest industry standards and will continue to do so.

LULU California Bistro 200 S Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA 92264 760.327.LULU (5858).