My dear friend Robbie, a recent transplant from the U.K. to L.A., is special on many counts, and I always welcome his visits to Rancho Mirage. Not only is my pal a native Londoner who sorely misses his former hometown—he’s an inveterate fan of prime rib. So naturally, there’s only one place in the desert to which I must take him every single time he treks out. And that place is Lord Fletcher’s Inn on Highway 111. Not only is Fletcher’s the first restaurant to ever appear on what is now commonly known as Rancho Mirage’s Restaurant Row, it’s subtitled “A Touch of Olde England” and has the best prime rib in the entire Palm Springs Valley. Safe to say Robbie is always a happy boy the minute I tell him I’ve made a reservation.
I have no doubt that one of the things that pleases my friend the most is the atmosphere. To walk into Fletcher’s is to walk into an old-fashioned English experience. The décor has barely changed since Ron Fletcher opened the place some 47 years ago, plastering the walls and every nook and corner with authentic art, antiques, and varied British bric-a-brac he imported himself all those decades ago. Today, his son Michael runs the place with the same charm and grace that made Frank Sinatra a regular of Ron’s.
After Robbie and I took our seats in the Shakespearean Room, Michael reminded us of some of his personal suggestions from the menu. And lest newcomers think that prime rib is the only thing on offer, please know that tantalizing seafood, veal, chicken, pasta, and pork ribs are also available!
Robbie couldn’t decide between the soup of the day or the house salad with Palace dressing (included with every entrée), so I convinced him that we should start with a Tower of Onion Rings, then continue with a Wedge of Lettuce with Blue Cheese ($8 extra but oh so worth it). Robbie naturally chose a Roast Prime Rib of Beef (Kings Cut, served with Yorkshire Pudding and Creamed Spinach), while I opted for the Whole Rack of New Zealand Lamb with fresh steamed vegetables. Michael suggested the perfect wines by the glass to pair with every course, and—believe it or not—we made room for the English Rice Pudding (made fresh daily, and served with either raspberries or cinnamon and whipped cream) and la maison’s extra rich Praline and Cream Ice Cream. Since we hadn’t seen each other in so long—and had so much to catch up on—Robbie and I could barely resist when Michael returned to the table to offer us Fletcher’s literally world-renowned Royal Brandy Ice, a signature concoction made of potent spirits and more of that delectable ice cream.
To say we were in heaven is to put it rather mildly. There’s a reason this establishment is still booming almost 50 years after it opened its doors. If you’ve yet to experience the garden of other-worldly delights that is an evening at Lord Fletcher’s Inn, be kind to yourself and be tardy no more. As Will the great himself wrote in Henry V, “I would give all my fame for a pot of ale.” In our case, Robbie and I would give all our riches that our last meal together be at Fletcher’s. www.lordfletcher.com