Melvyn’s is probably the most Rat Pack restaurant in Palm Springs

I’m sitting at a desk in a swanky restaurant, tucked right into a nook sales space, sipping a unclean martini when unexpectedly, a burst of flame flies up at my desk. 

But it surely’s OK. I ordered the steak Diane, tempted partly by watching (and smelling) servers flambe the sauce, largely product of cognac, garlic and mushrooms, table-side for different diners. When it’s my flip, folks at close by tables watch the present and certain determine to strive it for themselves, judging by what number of different orders I noticed ready within the eating room that night time.

I used to be at Melvyn’s at Ingleside Inn, a mainstay in Palm Springs that’s been serving up steakhouse classics for many years. There was one other diner who used to order the steak Diane at Melvyn’s, with a Jack Daniels-and-water on the facet: Frank Sinatra. He liked the restaurant a lot that Desk 13, simply by the door, was at all times prepared for the crooner if he stopped by for a chew.

Frank Sinatra in Palm Springs, Calif. 

Courtesy of Getty

“Everybody needs to say ‘Oh, the Rat Pack dined right here,’” mentioned Ingleside Inn’s common supervisor Matt Shough. “Legitimately, Frank Sinatra had his personal desk.” 

“He liked that as a result of he may sit there within the nook sales space, look out over all people and be the very first thing you noticed if you received into the restaurant,” he added. 

Melvyn’s opened in 1975, when Mel Haber purchased a once-grand desert property and rehabbed it into an inn and restaurant. It’s simply among the best eating places in Palm Springs, not simply due to the high-end fare, however as a result of the place exudes glamour. It’s the type of restaurant the place servers put on tuxedos and there may be throwback atmosphere in spades, particularly within the black-and-white photographs protecting the partitions of the lounge space, of Mel posing with dozens upon dozens of the celebrities who got here in. He died in 2016, however the place, I’m informed, feels a lot the identical because it at all times did — although there’s now a tribute to Haber each diner walks previous on their means into the restaurant.

The Melvyn's dining room.

The Melvyn’s eating room.

Courtesy of Melvyn’s

If it weren’t for the smartphone in my hand capturing the blazing steak earlier than me, the scene may have simply as simply been from 4 a long time in the past.

And that’s precisely the best way I needed it. 

If you happen to’re in search of Frank Sinatra in Palm Springs, it isn’t exhausting to search out him — effectively, to search out his reminiscence, anyway. He wasn’t the primary celeb to take haven within the Sonoran Desert, particularly within the Film Colony neighborhood that housed stars like Cary Grant and Marilyn Monroe between the Thirties and Nineteen Sixties, however he’s memorialized for bringing a sure attract to the world that it didn’t beforehand have. 

Sinatra lived primarily in Palm Springs for many years, and his presence feels prefer it’s in every single place. He’s buried shut by in Cathedral Metropolis, and he has a star on the Palm Springs Stroll of Stars to match his star in Hollywood. Twin Palms, the primary home Sinatra purchased in Palm Springs, in 1947, is a dwelling tribute to his reminiscence. He was so dedicated to dwelling within the desert, the story goes, that he would helicopter in to work at Warner Bros. Studio in Burbank. The studio needed to clear a car parking zone for him to land in, which continues to be known as “the touchdown pad” right now. 

The staff would keep an eye on the driveway for when Frank Sinatra pulled up.

The workers would keep watch over the driveway for when Frank Sinatra pulled up.

Julie Tremaine

Frank didn’t dine at Melvyn’s day-after-day — the singer made the rounds in Palm Springs — however his mom Dolly Sinatra did, sitting on the identical desk at 5 p.m. and charging her son’s tab. In actual fact, the LA Instances wrote, she had dinner there only a few hours earlier than she died in a airplane crash en path to see her son carry out in Las Vegas. 

He dined on the restaurant so usually, although, that the maitre d’ had glass panels put in within the entrance door. “He needed to have the door open for [Sinatra] each time he entered,” Shough mentioned. “So the maitre d’ would, once they knew he was coming, stand there searching the glass window to ensure they’d the door open the minute that he arrived.” That story got here courtesy of Danny Ruiz, Shough defined, who began 45 years in the past as Haber’s driver and now works on the entrance desk. Ruiz is one among many longtime workers of the resort; a few of the servers have been dropping that steak Diane table-side for 4 a long time or extra. So you possibly can think about that it was very, superb. So good — and such a pleasant tableside spectacle — that I did it over again for dessert with the flaming cherries jubilee. 

One other anecdote from Ruiz: “Danny informed me that he at all times gave 100 greenback invoice,” as a tip, Shough mentioned. “One time he requested the valet, ‘What is the greatest tip you’ve ever gotten?’ And the valet mentioned $100. Mr. Sinatra mentioned, ‘What low cost bastard gave you that $100?’ And the valet mentioned he did, so he gave him one other $100. You possibly can hear him saying that, proper?”

Cocktails at the Melvyn's bar come with a side of crooner.

Cocktails on the Melvyn’s bar include a facet of crooner.

Julie Tremaine

After dinner, I sat on the bar for a cocktail, solely to be served my traditional sidecar on a cocktail serviette with a likeness of younger Sinatra smiling up at me. However, I requested the bartender, if he liked this place a lot, why isn’t Sinatra in any of the photographs? 

“He wouldn’t take a photograph with Mel,” the bartender mentioned. Sinatra famously hated posing for photographs, however there may be one within the restaurant of the 2 of them. Simply above the bar is a photograph of Frank in facet profile speaking to somebody, with Mel Haber standing between the 2 males and grinning on the digital camera. He was so fed up with not having the ability to get a photograph with probably the most well-known fan of his restaurant, the bartender defined, that Haber had a photographer standing by for the precise proper second when the restaurateur may sprint into the body and get a shot of them collectively. 

“It was,” the bartender mentioned, “the world’s first photobomb.”

The infamous "first" photobomb by Mel Haber.

The notorious “first” photobomb by Mel Haber.

Julie Tremaine

Extra California Journey Tales