A Family Affair
There’s an uncle in my family who, for me, embodies unconditional love. No matter who you are, where you come from, or what you’ve done in your life, he has an embrace and a smile waiting for you. No one remains a stranger for long, and he speaks to people with genuine interest, peppering every conversation with laughter and a certain understanding that only someone who has lived as varied a life as his can offer. Needless to say, he makes it very enjoyable to be around family.
Now, imagine a place like this uncle, a place you could walk into where you always felt welcome and comfortable. Sounds nice, right? Recently, I had the good fortune of dining in a place like this. It is Cafe Jasmine in Palm Springs.
Located in the heart of downtown, Cafe Jasmine sits in the same spot it has been in for 15 years. That Cafe Jasmine practically shares its backyard with the Plaza Theater, home of The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies, is very appropriate given that Michael Donlogic, the owner of Cafe Jasmine, is very much an entertainer with a big personality in his own right. Whether you are a first-timer or a regular, a local, a vacationer, or a celebrity, Michael has a knack for making customers feel like the prodigal son returned to the flock, taking attentive customer service to a whole new level. He’s a people person, to say the least. He’s also a musician. Among the photos covering the walls of the inside of the intimate café, which include the faces and John Hancock’s of Antonio Banderas, Kaye Ballard and Doris Day – are photos of Michael on accordion, piano, and microphone performing at various celebrations that have been held at Cafe Jasmine through the years.
While Michael is very much the face at the front of the restaurant, he acknowledged during my visit that it’s very much a family effort at Cafe Jasmine, with his wife, Jasminka, running the kitchen and his son, Danny, shouldering the responsibility of menu design and maintenance of the electronic face of Cafe Jasmine, which includes a very active Facebook presence. Jasminka and Danny have succeeded in creating a more healthful style of eating at Cafe Jasmine without skimping on the things we all love. A good indication of this is the crisp presentation of their dishes, with just-right portions of the main entrée accompanied by small sides of vegetables or fruit. Open all day everyday for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Cafe Jasmine’s menu offerings include breakfast all day, homemade soups from scratch, classic deli sandwiches, salads, hot home-style dinners, and daily specials that range from American and Mediterranean to Eastern European, like Chicken Paprikash.
Even though it was mid-afternoon by the time I dropped in, I ordered up the Breakfast Pita Pocket filled with scrambled eggs, swiss cheese, ham, and crispy slivers of white onion. The egg, ham, cheese, and pita provided all of the comforting elements I love about breakfast. The onion was a perfect addition, its crunch and pungent flavor and aroma keeping my feet firmly planted in the reality of 3 pm. My Breakfast Pita Pocket came with two slices of fresh red tomato and two slices of pickle on the side. After not having eaten all day, this definitely hit the spot, leaving me with only the energy and spring in my step that I needed for the rest of the day.
There is nothing formal, obligatory, or pretentious about Cafe Jasmine. During my visit, there was someone seated at one of Cafe Jasmine’s sidewalk tables reading a book, several people who stopped in to get a cup of coffee to go, an older gentleman looking for good soup (he raved about the homemade lentil soup, if you need another recommendation), and several other people who stuck around after I left to just spend time talking to Jasminka while enjoying some mimosas. And that’s just it. Cafe Jasmine is the perfect place to drop in for a bite and some great conversation before doing whatever comes next in the day.
If You Go – Cafe Jasmine – 125 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs.
Sarah Romero loves to eat as much as she loves to write. How about you? If there’s a restaurant you think Sarah just has to try, please send her your suggestions by tweeting her at http://twitter.com/iheartdates.
(as originally published in The Bottom Line Magazine and at http://psbottomline.com/eat-drink/eat-out/a-family-affair on February 23, 2012 in Volume 31 Issue 13)