What: The mini beef tenderloin (on the lounge menu)
Where: Willie’s Modern Fare, 69830 Highway 111, Rancho Mirage
How much: $19
Contact: 760-202-4499; www.williesrm.com
Why: It’s an amazing light meal.
Have you ever wanted something really, really good to eat … when you weren’t that hungry? If you’re nodding your head, you may want to visit to the lounge side of Willie’s Modern Fare.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, here’s the lowdown: Restaurateurs Chad Gardner (Roly China Fusion, 533 Viet Fusion) and Willie Rhine (Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge), who teamed up in 2020 to open 1501 Uptown Gastropub, announced last year they’d purchased the former Bernie’s space in Rancho Mirage. After some renovations and sprucing up, they opened Willie’s Modern Fare earlier this year.
On one side of Willie’s, you’ll find a more upscale vibe, with tablecloths and entrée price points ranging from $25 to $58. On the other side, you’ll find a lounge, with a nice bar and a more-casual menu, featuring things like a burger with steak fries ($17) and a prime rib sandwich with fries ($19).
One recent Friday night, some friends and I popped in to the lounge side for a bite and drinks before an event. A steak sounded amazing, so I ordered the mini beef tenderloin, with “chimichurri, chive wild mushroom mashed and roasted garlic puree.”
What showed up at the table was not a large plate of food. However, it was a fantastic plate of food. The potatoes, with mushroom pieces mixed in, were splendid. The tender, juicy steak was cooked to medium rare as requested, and the chimichurri added just the right amount of additional umami.
If I had been really hungry, and this had been the only thing I’d ordered, I would have been disappointed. However, I’d have also been out of my mind if I were expecting a full-sized tenderloin steak meal for $19.
Nope. This was a small, appropriately priced, perfect plate of food.