Some dining experiences are such a labor of love that you immediately want to embrace them. Such was the case late last at what turned out to be a 10pm supper at the newly opened Palate at 933 South Brand Avenue in Glendale. Stunningly placed at the base of the old Bekins building that houses one of the largest wine vaults in Southern California, Palate is at once both sophisticated and soulful with oversized glass grapes pouring out of huge urns, featuring some 250 carefully chosen wines from all the major regions and enticing local finds including sommelier Steven Goldun's very own White Dog Syrah. You can order a 2.5oz or 5oz pour or larger 7oz glass. It provided my companion the opportunity to try no less than four varietals including an organic pinot noir from Oregon, a rich zinfandel and a provocative blend simply called, "The Prisoner". Tastes run anywhere from $4-$7 with a full pour of the blended red $11.
As extensive as the wine list is befitting a combination retail wine store, cheese shop (both to open soon) and restaurant, that's how selectively simple the menu is. Plates run from small ($6) to larger in the low $20's and included beautiful white anchovies over baby arugula to hen of the woods mushrooms with frisee and lardons both for $10, as well as a crispy seabass with roasted tomato for $12 and a luscious pork belly with apple, fennel and faro for $16 (carnitas never had it so good). We finished with a Valrhona chocolate pudding for $5 and a plate of house chocolates that fulfilled pretty much every chocolate caramel fantasy of the moment. Artisanal in almost every way, I could make a meal of the rustic crusty freshly baked bread served with butter made from raw cream acquired at a Modesto dairy and spiked with sea salt and fresh dill.
Created by Patina alumni Ocatvio Beccera and Laura O'Hare who between them have opened pretty much every Splichal restaurant of the last dozen years, Palate is a testament to professionals who've acquired vast experience to forge a personal statement. Familiar faces on the line include an ebullient Gary Menes also from the Patina Group and Jason Mattick, recently of Max in Sherman Oaks; while the floor staff include stalwarts from Comme Ca and Canele to name a few. All work well together to the guests' great reward. $88.77 for two.
We tried it last night and had a lovely time. I liked the White Dog syrah, but we also tasted a Cotes du rhone with the pork belly, a biodynamic sauvignon blanc with the scallops and a lovely Italian white, unfortuenately we were so happy by the end of all these tastings we forgot to ask for a menu and I didn't write down the names. Two of us spent just about the same ($90) for three dishes, a cheese plate, and about four small pours each.