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Palatte (PHX)

Grey Jul 26, 2007 09:16 PM

It's finally open! Anyone been yet? Good menu recs?

Downtown Phoenix, backs right up to Cibo (NW corner 4th Ave/ Fillmore). It serves only breakfast and lunch. Cannot wait to go.

Their website: http://www.downtownbrunch.com

  1. d
    dallas.gold May 5, 2008 08:09 PM

    Reasonable people can agree to disagree. I consider myself reasonable. Two weeks ago, I started a Facebook group called Save Palatte. I created it to encourage/beg the wonderful owners of Palatte, Ed and Christine, to switch from the current system of counter service to table service. Since then I’ve heard from many in the foodie community that agree with me. I’ve also learned about Ed and Christine’s hopes of having a welcoming neighborhood place to relax at over a leisurely meal. I respect that. And, given the timing, the first beautiful Sunday morning of May, I figured it was time to give it another try.

    Pam, a close friend, and I met underneath the Palatte sign at 11:30am. After synchronizing our watches, we negotiated the busy, but not overly crowded patio with relative easy. We crossed the tread worn steps and pulled open the door to reveal a, as we had expected, and feared, a line of magnificent proportion. I sighed, certain my hedonistic Sunday morning had been ruined. Pam, the more perseverant of the two, pressed on through the adjacent rooms, into the Willows where the line’s long tail tapered to an end.

    Distracted by small talk and my comely companion, I was surprised to find the line, lengthy though it was, moved relatively quickly. Half-way to the counter, our order was taken by an apron clad staff member. I choose the Potato Mishmash and a Bloody Mary. Pam, apparently willing to sacrifice to keep her yogi suppleness, opted for the yogurt and coffee. We were handed our ticket and instructed to hand it in at the register. Five minutes later, I obediently did as I was told, while Pam sought a table.

    Buoyed by the relatively painless ordering process, it only took 15 minutes, I joined my ginger haired accomplice. She had secured a prime location under an umbrella in the front corner. Where, to my ambivalence, I found her surrounded by the previous party’s dirty dishes. A small price to pay for such choice digs, I told myself. Pam assured me the waiter/busboy would, he had assured her, return to clean up. And so he did. However, while the plates and cups were taken, the table, dirty and smeared with the morning’s offerings wasn’t wiped down. No problem I told myself, confident it would be cleaned when new silverware, water, and our drinks arrived. But that didn’t happen, at least not for a full 23 minutes.

    I have been told, and believe, the rational for counter service, lies in the unfortunately small kitchen. Seating people immediately, so it goes, would result in the false promise of a short wait. I get it. And, after the increased efficiency of the newly reordered ordering process, I was willing to cut them some slack. But, after 38 minutes, 23 of which were spent at a dirty table, something had to give. And, so it did, kind of.

    At 12:08pm, my Bloody Mary arrived. Halleluiah! God, my god, the one who drinks on Sundays in lieu of going to church, smiled on me. However, my health nut, confederate was not so lucky. It wasn’t until 12:14pm, after personally trekking to the indoor coffee bar was I rewarded with a mug and instructions how to use the outdoor thermos.

    Like a Neanderthal dragging a mastodon steak, I returned to the table, caffeine in hand. A toast was in order. Surely, our vittles had to be close.

    Not so. It wasn’t until 12:27pm, 57 minutes after arriving, 42 minutes after ordering that we received our food. The Potato Mishmash was as good as ever, quite an accomplishment since it sat upon a still dirty table. We ate in silence and thirst. We never did get water. Afterward, there was no after brunch lingering as I had hoped. My short-lived buzz and limited patience had worn off. With little fan fare we got up and left.

    As, perhaps, I’ve alluded, I’m torn when it comes to Palatte. I love Ed, Christine and the whole bunch of bohemian henchmen. I love that, like Cibo, Palatte is a local joint. I love the food and ambience. I want it to flourish and be the kind of place in which I, as a patron, can have part ownership. That said, it kills me to go there. I share the vision of a neighborhood hangout. But can someone really hang out where drink orders are mismanaged, tables aren’t bused and diners left to fend for themselves.

    Call me naïve, but I hope believe table service would cure a lot of what ails Palatte. Admittedly, table service comes with its own baggage. But, in the end, I’d prefer knowing one person was solely responsible for my happiness. That it was in someone’s economic self interest (i.e. tips) to make sure my table was clean, and my order not lost on the kitchen floor.

    It’s appropriate, that Pam accompanied me to brunch. My ex-girlfriend, I’ve often wondered what life would be like if only something had been different. I can’t help but feel the same way about Palatte.

    Help save Palatte. Join Save Palatte and ask for dedicated servers and table service: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid....

    4 Replies
    1. re: dallas.gold
      silverbear May 5, 2008 08:30 PM

      I agree with your assessment 100% and wrote to that effect when I reviewed Palatte on my blog. The food is excellent, the owners gracious, and the setting attractive, but the fast-casual service model in such an inappropriate site makes dining at Palatte seem like a visit to the DMV: Get in line. Whoops, wrong line. Get in right line. Wait. Follow orders. Wait more. Etc.

      That being said, I'm not active on Facebook and don't really feel like signing up just for this purpose. Why not start a blog or some sort of site available to all without registration?

      1. re: silverbear
        b
        Bax Aug 23, 2008 06:07 PM

        Good news!

        It looks like everyone's complaints have finally paid off/gotten through. Palatte has finally wised up and switched to table service!

        I hadn't been in ages; a few weeks ago I tried to order take-out over the phone and was told that they were closed for "remodelling." I hoped that meant for a change in service too. Evidently it did! Today I got take-out and asked if they had table service now and was told they DO.

        Hallelujah.

        Let's just hope the waitstaff is more attentive than in the past.

        My turkey sandwich and fava bean salad were good today; the only unfortunate part was that they put the wrapped sandwich into a container with the salad...which meant the paper wrapping was damp with dressing and had bits of pancetta and cheese stuck to it. Yuck.

        1. re: Bax
          Firenza00 Aug 23, 2008 08:04 PM

          We haven't been to Palatte in over a year. (Long story) Has anyone been for sit-down service recently? Is the food still good? We hope to make it back sometime in the near future.

          1. re: Firenza00
            mamamia Aug 25, 2008 11:41 AM

            We used to go a lot as well. But once the word got out about it, the wait times became very problematic, especially when you have a little beast who doesn't know how to be the best restuarant citizen we know she'll have the capabilitiy to be in another year or two.

            Until I hear more direct reports, we'll stick to Zoe's. Kids love the french toast..and I'm a slave to my children's wishes at 9am on a Sunday.

    2. Firenza00 Jul 28, 2007 03:42 PM

      Man, everyone tried it today. Tara and I went and had a great meal. We were told by a waiter to grab a menu, order at the window just past the doorway from the first room, and grab a seat. I got the sausage mish mash and Tara got the carmelized onion tarte. We loved both. Her's had a great pastry crust. Our service was fine. We snagged the last free table (a small two top) so we didn't have to sit at that huge table in the front. We had no complaints at all. We got there around 1-1:15 and were out before 2pm.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Firenza00
        a
        avandelay Feb 24, 2008 02:00 PM

        Wanted to revive this thread to see what peoples experiences have been lately. We went today and probably won't be back. When we got there the board said it was a 35 minute wait for food. For us the wait was actually over an hour. The food was only OK not great. What I couldn't tell was why it took so long. I get its a small kitchen but just watching the operation it didn't seem like they were bringing out many dishes at all. And most of things on the menu don't seem very complicated. I know its a large place and can fit a lot of people but it just didn't seem to be very efficient.

        1. re: avandelay
          silverbear Feb 24, 2008 06:14 PM

          I went for the first time about a month ago. It was a weekday, so I didn't experience a wait and the food was very good, although nothing I'd be willing to wait an hour for. I really think the weekend backups are a byproduct of Palatte's misguided insistence on a fast-casual service model. Under such a model, the customers keep coming, place their orders, and the kitchen backs up. If Palatte made the transition to full service, someone at a host station could seat only as many customers as the kitchen could reasonably accommodate. The interior and the porch could be the seating area, and the patio could be the waiting area for those awaiting tables. As much as I gripe about the long wait for a table at Pizzeria Bianco, I'd rather wait to be seated than wait a long time after placing my order.

          1. re: silverbear
            ipsedixit Feb 24, 2008 07:32 PM

            I couldn't agree more.

            The whole notion of counter service defeats the purpose of having a wait staff. Water and oil just don't mix.

            To top it off, I think the food is a bit overpriced for what you get. Our sandwiches came out soggy ... how do you manage to make a fluffer-nutter soggy??

          2. re: avandelay
            b
            Bax Feb 25, 2008 06:36 AM

            I work just up the street and want to love Palatte...but can't quite manage it. As everyone has remarked, their insistence on "fast casual" in that space is ridiculously misguided. The layout of that building is just NOT conducive to that service model. On the other hand, service as is can be vexingly incompetent so I don't know that traditional service would be much better . Last time we ate at the restaurant I had to go get water myself because we were completely ignored by the waitstaff and our food arrived cold.

            Overall the food is good, but not great. The first time I had the sweet potato pancakes they were outstanding; the second time they were gummy and kind of odd. On my most recent visit I had the mushroom tart which was tasty but, as stated, cold by the time it was served and the accompanying potato salad was nearly flavorless despite the pancetta (no hint of the promised balsamic dressing). I do love their turkey sandwich, though, and find myself craving it. Less so after the last time I ordered it, though.

            A month or so ago I found myself craving that sandwich but was worried that the wait would be too long, since it was a Saturday. I called and said "If I place a take-out order, how long will the wait be?" The woman on the phone replied probably 15-20 min. depending on what I ordered. A completely reasonable wait, so I ordered the sandwich with a side of pear salad (which was yummy but no longer on the menu now) and she told me a sandwich would be even quicker, 10-15 min. tops.

            After delaying 10 min. or so I headed to the restaurant and got in line to pay (annoying that there's not a separate place to pay for/pick up call-in orders). When it was my turn and I told the cashier I'd called in she said "Oh..." and paused for a second before telling me how much I owed and taking my money. That "oh" caused me a little concern but then I thought to myself "Oh, I'm sure it's nothing."

            Well, it wasn't nothing. I stood and waited and waited and waited for my order. 10, 15 min. passed. Not one of the wandering staff stopped to see if I was ok or assure me my order would be ready soon. I started actively trying to get their attention to no avail. Finally after 30-35 min. since I'd called in I managed to get someone to talk to me. "Your order is almost ready," they told me. After another minute or so the owner came up to me and said "Did they tell you what happened?" Um...no. "The cashier forgot to put in your order when you called." "Well is it ready now?" "They're wrapping it up. Sorry 'bout that."

            By this time I was practically fuming. Your cashier forgets to place my order, I'm ignored for half an hour and all I get is a casual and rather unconcerned-sounding "sorry 'bout that"? Another several minutes passed before I was finally handed my bag of food. I grabbed it and headed back to work. Sat down at my desk, opened the sandwich...and it wasn't the right one! They'd given me the veggie instead of the turkey. I'm not normally one to make a fuss but at this point all I could think was I WANT MY TURKEY SANDWICH. Picked up the phone and told them I'd just been in for take-out, had had to wait forever and then they gave me the wrong thing and said "I want the turkey sandwich. I'll be there in 10 min."

            10 min. later I was back at the restaurant; didn't even make it to the steps before being met by a server with bag in hand. She told me they'd reimbursed my credit card and put a $20 gift card in the bag along with the sandwich.

            So. I definitely give them credit for reimbursing my money and giving me a gift card. But really, they should have made some gesture in the first place after having misplaced my order and making me wait. A free muffin. Something. It makes me sad that by being patient and forgiving I got NOTHING and only by being angry and making a fuss did I get any recognition. To top it off, the turkey sandwich I FINALLY got wasn't even very good. Scrappy bits of dark meat (of which I'm not a fan), hardly any pancetta. DISAPPOINTING, especially after everything I went through to get it.

            Despite that and the bad service/cold food/tasteless potato salad of the last visit I'll probably be back. It's nice to have another breakfast/lunch option in the neighborhood. But if I have many more experiences like those I'm probably going to give up on them for good. Even at its best food is not worth the hassle.

            1. re: Bax
              k
              KitchenMaid Feb 26, 2008 01:09 PM

              I went to Palatte last Sunday morning for a nice brunch, being quite excited to try it out after hearing lots of praise about it. I walked in around 11AM with 3 other people, and the place looked rather busy. Little did I know I'd be there for hours.

              Apparently I missed the little sign that said, "Your food will be ready in 90 minutes". Had I noticed that little sign, I'd have marched right out. 90 minutes??? For brunch? That's just wrong and offensive. And let me tell you, 90 minutes it was.

              My sweet potato pancakes were very good, but as someone mentioned in an earlier thread, they arrived gummy and seemingly raw. But after waiting for 90 minutes and being starving, are you really going to complain and send that food back? Heck no. Besides the pancake setabck, everyone enjoyed their food - I will admit that the french toast looks divine - but give me a break. As a relatively temporary Phoenix resident, I definitely support downtown restaurants. But this place needs to rethink its design, and come to terms with the fact that they have more tables than they can handle. I'll consider giving this place another try but for now, I'm very disappointed.

        2. winedubar Jul 28, 2007 01:40 PM

          we had a TERRIBLE experience there - we walked out and didn't even get to the food portion. half the staff just looked at us and didn't say anything..

          here's what happened -

          after the farmers market, we were starving. we went to palette for brunch. there were people sitting outside, but its hot and humid and we wanted a/c. we walked inside, and got the run down from waiter number one :

          you have to pick up a menu in a metal cover, sort of like an old school medical flip chart station. then, you walk PAST what looks like a menu/order station station *tera's old counter area from it's previous life as tera's garden store*, walk to the back, put in your order, get a number, then walk back to the front, put the menu back and then find a seat.

          we were like, are you kidding me? why not move the order station to the FRONT?

          so there's one table thats being bussed in the front. so we said - great, we'll take that one!! so we stood by and waited while they bussed the table.

          the same snippy waiter/hostess/what have you told us 3 times to sit down at the couch by the old menu/register station and then find a seat. we said - no thank you, this is the only table inside, we'll wait til they're bussed. after she said ONE MORE TIME 'why don't you take a seat on the couch' we were like forget it, we're out of here. so we put our menu's down, and walked out. meanwhile, half the staff of the place just looked at us, and the manager didn't say a word.

          it looked cute on the inside, but the rude chick and ridiculous order situation scared me away. why can't counter service be counter service? why the cutesy metal flip cover menus? why do you have to walk all the way to the back, when the station in the front is open and has a clear view to the kitchen?

          too bad they were so rude to us. i'm never going back because of it.

          2 Replies
          1. re: winedubar
            azhotdish Jul 28, 2007 02:05 PM

            wow, i don't blame you. see what happens when you try cheating on Au Petit Four for late breakfast? ;)

            1. re: azhotdish
              winedubar Jul 28, 2007 02:27 PM

              lol - thats EXACTLY what we said :D

          2. s
            sunshineinaz Jul 28, 2007 12:46 PM

            We just tried it this morning for breakfast. Very very good! I had the sausage "mish mash" and it was delicious. Who knew eggs, sausage, feta, almonds and plantains could be so good together? The french toast was also very good from the couple bites I had. Great atmosphere - rustic chic and they have a little store as well. Definitely recommend it!

            1. silverbear Jul 26, 2007 09:27 PM

              It's on my list. The menu looks great. I just hope that there is enough patronage to justify eventual evening hours. Downtown already has too many restaurants that close at 3 PM.

              -----
              Palatte
              606 N 4th Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85003

              4 Replies
              1. re: silverbear
                Firenza00 Jul 27, 2007 07:43 AM

                That is an interesting menu. I'll have to check to see if I have any appropriately sized pineapples... :)

                1. re: Firenza00
                  tara17 Jul 27, 2007 12:47 PM

                  Firenza and I may need to volunteer to go there first - the caramellized onion tarte sounds great. I don't get the pineapples joke, though...

                  1. re: tara17
                    themis Jul 27, 2007 02:02 PM

                    On the website they say they accept cash, credit and very small pineapples as payment.

                    1. re: themis
                      tara17 Jul 27, 2007 04:47 PM

                      Thanks, themis! I figured he was trying to confuse me again!

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