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Jun 19, 2008 03:03 AM

Palate Food + Wine - A Splendid Mediterranean Tasting Bar in Glendale! [Review] w/ Pics!

(Formatted with All Pictures here:


While new restaurant openings seem to happen every day in L.A., the last few months have seen the opening of some serious heavyweights. One of the most exciting new restaurants to open up is Palate Food + Wine, a combination of a restaurant, wine bar, and lounge, as well as home to an interesting "eno-gastronomic library" (free to browse at your leisure). Initially, the biggest buzz about Palate was that it was headed up by former Patina Group Executive Chef Octavio Becerra, and that it was going to open up in Glendale(!) of all places.

Then the excitement got amplified by the early reviews from CH'ers that confirmed that the food was actually very good and the atmosphere even better. Excited, I enlisted my closest Wine Hound for a Thursday evening reservation at Palate Food + Wine, and we were so impressed that a return visit was in order, the following Tuesday. :)

Palate Food + Wine is in a (thankfully) quiet stretch of Glendale, past the Glendale Galleria and the new Americana shopping district. Upon entering, you can tell that Palate is something special: It's energetic, lively, and colorful in an understated sort of way, and without any of the pretentiousness one might expect at a hot, new wine bar in L.A.

Perusing the menu, and it's clear that Palate is serious about its wine: The Food Menu is literally 1 page (and 1 page for Cheeses), with 11 pages devoted to Wine and other drinks! But those worried that the food might become tired after a few visits need not worry: According to General Manager Laura O'Hare, Palate's Food Menu changes frequently, with small changes happening every few days to every two weeks, depending on seasonal availability of items!

The Seasonal Menu is the creation of Principal and Founder Octavio Becerra, along with Palate's Executive Chef Gary Menes, formerly of French Laundry and Aubergine. With talent like this, we were even more excited to dig in and try out their Seasonal Menu.

The first item to try was their wonderfully named (and highly recommended) Porkfolio. It's an assorted plate of Prosciutto Di Parma, Speck Di Alto Adige, Salumi: Toscano, Genoa Salame Cotto, and Peperone. It was served with three types of mustards: A regular, smooth Dijon; a whole grain Dijon; and a Violet Mustard that gets its color from Grapes being combined in the process. The Salumi Toscano was excellent, as was the Genoa Salame Cotto. The Peperone was nice and spicy, but so fragrant and porky at the same time. The Prosciutto was good, but nothing amazing. But the highlight would have to be the Speck, which was so wonderful and rich, and I enjoyed it paired with all three types of mustards.

Next up was another specialty of Palate's: Mason Jar of Potted Berkshire Pork! They have a whole section of the menu devoted to "Mason Jar" type dishes, so we had to try something from there. :) The Potted Berkshire Pork arrived and was already very intriguing. It was literally a jar of Pork, but the taste was something very unique and delicious: Chef Becerra and Menes have somehow ground(?) up the Berkshire Pork to such a fine consistency that it tasted almost like a delicate Pate. Each bite of this Potted Berkshire Pork exuded a wonderful, slightly smoky, and oh so porky goodness! It paired well with the wines we had (which I unfortunately forgot to write down the names of (I let my Wine Hound friend take care of that :)).

They also brought out some fresh bread and a homemade Butter, topped with finely chopped Radish slices, Fennel and Sea Salt. It was seriously some of the best Butter I've had with complementary bread in recent memory: Wonderfully creamy, smooth and so fresh! The Fennel and Radish slices nicely augmented each bite.

Next up was their Scallops, Cauliflower, Apple & Caramel. The Scallops were seared just right, with a nice golden-brown crust, and they exuded a sweetness and freshness only found with truly fresh scallops. The Cauliflower florets had a nice curry spice added to them, and paired nicely.

Their Fava Beans, Torpedo Onions, Market Greens + Mint Anchovy Vinaigrette proved to be an excellent, extremely flavorful salad! I'm not too fond of salads, but the combination of the super-fresh vegetables, along with the unique, refreshing Mint Anchovy Vinaigrette made this a salad I would order every time! The Fava Beans were cooked perfectly as well, and added a nice alternate flavor layer to what salads normally are.

Next came the much-anticipated Pork Belly, Georgia Grits, Pluots & Arugula. The Pork Belly was cooked to a gorgeous golden-brown, nice and crisped! Taking a bite, and a wave of happiness swept over me: Rich, sumptuous, and most of the fat was rendered away, so it was Pork meat with a crispy Pork exterior, like a super-decadent Bacon, but so much better! (^_~) It was a tad salty by itself, but when paired with the Georgia Grits and/or the Pluots or the Bread and it became perfect.

The Chicken Breast, Forbidden Rice + Kumquat Relish was simply wonderful! Normally Chicken Breast means something really dried out or boring, but it was amazing! The Chicken Breast was cooked sous-vide - slow, gently cooked in a vacuum bag - and as reported on CH, it was truly *the* most tender and moist Chicken Breast I've had in recent memory! Combined with the Forbidden Rice and Kumquat Relish, and it was really just a wonderful, wonderful dish! Excellent.

We tried out an assortment of Cheeses: Blu Cosi Sheep's Milk Cheese (Piedmont, Italy), Brunet Goat's Milk Cheese (Piedmont, Italy), and the Fleure Verte Goat's Milk Cheese (Perigord, France). The Blu Cosi was a bit too strong for me, but still enjoyable. Both the Brunet and Fleure Verte were wonderful, slightly pungent but nothing overpowering, and the creamy texture was great.

The interestingly named Gnocchi - Pea Duo; English + Tendrils was a delicious dish of homemade Gnocchi, and two types of Peas, fresh English Peas and Pea Tendrils sauteed together in a light butter sauce. This is where (like the newly opened Anisette), fresh market ingredients really make a difference: The English Peas and Tendrils were very fresh and tasted of it. The only problem was that the portion on this dish felt really sparse compared to the other dishes.

Another interesting dish they had was the Salmon Rillete, which was a new menu item appearing within 4 days of our first visit there! Like the Potted Berkshire Pork, the Salmon Rillete was served in a Mason Jar, and was also of the same, light, Pate consistency of the Berkshire Pork. With the inherent lightness of the Salmon (compared to Pork), this was even better than the Potted Pork in many ways.

The Squash Blossoms & Garlic Aioli were simple and fresh: Squash Blossoms deep-fried and perfectly complemented by the freshly-made Garlic Aioli sauce. It was nice and crispy and hot; just out of the kitchen.

The only misstep for the two visits we had was their Financier Dessert, with Peaches, Strawberry Puree and Creme Fraiche. Highly recommended by our server, it turned out to be really disappointing: The Financier was really dry and crumbly, and the Peaches were tart and didn't gel at all with the Strawberry Puree. When combined together with the Creme Fraiche, the whole dessert just tasted of disparate parts and was really unappetizing.

For the first visit, our server Ryan, was charming, energetic and made sure everything was going well. The second visit (with a different server) was a bit more hit-or-miss, but with multiple servers and busboys running around, we were never left wanting. We averaged about ~$40 per person, which included drinks, tax and tip. Palate also offers up a large selection of Wines by the Glass and plenty of excellent wines under $50 and plenty in the triple digits.

Palate Food + Wine is an excellent new addition to the L.A. food and wine landscape: With an ever-changing Seasonal Menu that can change as often as every few days, the extensive Wine Menu, and with Chef Becerra and Menes' creativity and excellence in the kitchen driving everything, Palate is already a resounding success. Palate Food + Wine is a down-to-earth, yet sophisticated, fun, and energetic Mediterranean Food & Wine Bar experience that's highly recommended.

*** Rating: 8.9 (out of 10.0) ***

Palate Food + Wine
933 South Brand Boulevard
Glendale, CA 91204
Tel: (818) 662-9463

Palate Food & Wine
933 South Brand Blvd, Glendale, CA 91204

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  1. More pics attached (the rest of the pictures can be found in the link in the original post. Thanks! :)

    2 Replies
    1. re: exilekiss

      What a wonderful review, exilekiss! We were just there a couple nights ago but reading your review makes me want to return immediately! Thank you for a lovely read.

      We love Palate and feel so fortunate to have something of this caliber close by. We've been averaging once a week since they opened their doors and have yet to be disappointed. Plus, the fact that their menu is constantly evolving, makes every visit fresh and exciting. While the pork belly and chicken (as well as a beef dish, usually skirt steak or short ribs) are staples, the accompanying sides and sauces are rarely the same. And I love it when they turn the lights down and bring out the tealights and candelabra later in the evening.

      Oh, and Ryan is absolutely our favorite server as well.

      1. re: caveatempty

        Thanks caveatempty. :)

        I'm glad to hear that it's been consistently good for you as well and it sounds like you've been there many more times than I have. :)

        I'll have to try their Short Ribs next time. I also love how they turn down the lights and go with the candelabras (thanks for reminding me).

    2. Your posts make me want to go right away!
      I'm vacilitating between hinting I want to go to Palate or Anisette for my birthday, and you just made it HARDER to chose!

      Thanks a lot ;)

      1 Reply
      1. re: Diana

        Hey Diana,

        Thanks (^_~). Well, I would say look over both types of food and see which one intrigues you more. In addition, if you're going to make a day out of it (or dinner + something to do in the area), then look at it from that angle as well if need be.

        Or if you have the flexibility, perhaps hit Anisette for Breakfast / Brunch / Lunch and Palate for Dinner. (^_~)

        Or lastly, take a look at the pictures from both restaurants' food and just decide. :)

      2. Another beautiful review. Thank you!

        1 Reply
        1. re: hrhboo

          You're welcome hrhboo. :)

          Hope you enjoy Palate as well; I was really surprised (and fearing I was going to be let down). Can't wait to go back.

        2. How far ahead should one make reservations?

          5 Replies
          1. re: Diana

            Ooh, so you've decided on your B-day destination? :)

            I was able to get a weeknight reservation 2 days ahead, but not sure how busy it'll get as the weeks go by (and I'm guessing Fri / Sat reservations will be more popular and harder to come by). Enjoy~

            1. re: exilekiss

              Still unsure, I think it's between this and Anisette, which you also reviewed so nicely. if I get taken out TWO weekends in July, I can go to both!

              Which would you chose, if you could go to only one? I want good food, a little romance, a nice time with good service...truly a special evening.

              1. re: Diana

                Can't attest to Anisette yet, but had a second stellar evening last night at Palate, even without reservations. Do make them though, but it seemed like much of the restaurant industry was dining and schmoozing there last night.
                That chicken dish that every raves about truly does live up to those expectations. Likewise, a rock cod dish was equally spectacular.

                Diana - as to your choice, Palate only has around 3-4 entree items, with the balance of the menu done in smaller portions which you mix and match at your choosing. Personally, if you want more of a traditional setting for your dinner, I think Anisette would probably be a better choice. Both have wonderful food, yet the ad hoc nature of the menu at Palate may not be exactly what you might have in mind for this occasion.

                1. re: Diana

                  Hey Diana,

                  That's a tough one. If you feel like a mood-induced Wine Bar (w/ tasty small plates type feel), then go with Palate.

                  For a fun, lively full menu restaurant, more food than wine-focused, I'd go to Anisette. It's such a wonderful brasserie and restaurant, and the nearby Santa Monica / Pacific Ocean is a plus for walks along the beach. (^_~)

                2. re: exilekiss

                  I just made reservations last week for a prime time Sat. night at 8 pm in mid July. I had tried to make the same with two weeks out and got 5:30 or 8:45. Also, they will be closed 4th of July weekend for minor construction.

              2. excellent dinner last night, you really need to be a wine person to appreciate this place. get the pork belly!

                I had the chicken breast and frankly i was wishing i had ordered the steak instead. the chicken breast is unbelievably moist, forkable in fact, but a little bland for my tastes. another gal at the table died and went to heaven but i ate a bite and left the rest. the porkfolio was all that and a bag of chips (no they do not serve chips I think) . The cheese plate is what I want to get next time. They were serving very generous hunks of very good cheese. the bread was from breadbar, but the cheese bread is the only one I really liked. We had the chocolate pudding and almond financier for dessert. the almond financier dessert was pretty and overall was quite tasty, perhaps a little dense for a financier (at least compared to the ones I've had). The chocolate pudding was a decent pudding but at home I jack it up and make essentially an unbaked pot de creme so I guess that's why I couldn't appreciate it as much. All in all, I'd definitely come here over and over when i have the time and money to get my butt over to glendale of all places.