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REVIEW: Palate Food + Wine

w
Wolfgang Jul 25, 2008 10:14 AM

My girlfriend and I made the trek from Santa Monica to Palate last night, meeting my brother and his wife for dinner. We sat at the communal table situated in the back room bordered by books on one side and empty wine bottles on the other, adjacent to the retail wine store and wine bar. At first, we were disappointed to be seated back there, but we weren't forgotten and it ended up being a great spot. Plenty of elbow and leg room, plenty of room for all the plates, and easy to carry on a conversation.
The gentleman who's filling in as the floor manager, I forget his name but he looks and sounds like Jeff Bridges in the Big Lebowski so I'll call him Jeff, was great from start to finish. Great enthusiasm and honesty. He's wonderful at his job.

We shared a bottle of 2005 Beaune 1er Cru, Cent Vignes, Roland Thevenin, at Steve Goldun's suggestion. We all enjoyed it. Good from the first sip. $52.

For food we ordered the following:

2 buttermilk chickens with roasted figs
1 pork belly with plums and dandelion greens
1 don watson pan roasted lamb
1 pan roasted veal with a roasted onion and baby broccoli
1 asparagus with hen egg
1 canneloni with ricotta, barbara's garlic, and parmigiano reggiano
pickled carrots and stone fruit

Everything was really, really good.
The two girls had the chicken, a breast prepared sous vide with a piece of crispy skin placed on top. The chicken was meltingly tender and really flavourful. I don't like chicken breasts and don't have them but a couple times a year; this one was the best I've had.. The meat tasted to me more like a good roasted thanksgiving turkey. The roasted fig was surprisingly good. I didn't think I'd like a fig, but it was complex and smoky and slightly peppery. Not sweet at all.
I had the veal breast and split the pork belly with my brother. The veal was slightly tough but the flavour more than made up for it. The meat had so much meaty flavour and the sauce with a hint of rosemary was delicious. I don't like broccoli but dipped in this sauce I liked it. A stand out dish.
This was my first pork belly. I'm behind the times. It was crispy on the outside and tender, porky, really porky, goodness inside. This is a perfect dish to share. It tasted like the fatty crisped edges of a grilled (like they do at Hitching Post, not bbq style) baby back rib. I loved it but the richness made a half a serving plenty. At the end, I was eating little pieces of the pork belly with the veal and it was like a magical discovery.
Any fear of the plum sauce being sweet or cloying desappeared after the first bite.
I tried only one bite of the lamb leg. The flavours were marvelous. I've eaten lamb for most of my 20 something years and I've never had lamb this un-lamby. Some who love gamy lamb will be disappointed. I like lamb both ways and this was an eye opener. The sauce was dark, rich and flavourful without being overreduced and heavy. A stand out dish.
If you like asparagus, the asparagus with runny egg is really a nice dish. The asparagus was perfectly cooked and seasoned, likewise the egg. The combination works.
The cannelloni were dreamy. They were tender and crepe-like, filled with a garlicky ricotta and parmigiano cheese mixture, lightly browned and crisped on the outside. Another stand out dish.
The pickled carrots and plums were good snacks, nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, I prefer the pickled carrots and onions from La Playita or Gilberts.
I also thought the sour wheat bread was pretty ordinary. I would've liked a second choice.

Total for everything, including tax, before tip was $180.

Service was good except for Jeff, who was tremendous and seemed happy to be at the restaurant and very invested in our having a good time.

I hope this restaurant makes it. It has a good spirit and Gary and Octavio and their cooks are doing great things in the kitchen. It is also priced well.

S.I.V. was in the party of four sharing the communal table with us.

  1. e
    exilekiss Jul 27, 2008 05:23 PM

    Thanks for the review Wolfgang! :) That's what I love about Palate: The ever-changing seasonal menu with some creative, fun food. Can't wait to try the Lamb Leg (it wasn't on the menu during my last visit).

    1. Servorg Jul 28, 2008 09:21 AM

      Very nice review. I take it you didn't have a reservation and that was why you ended up at the communal table? What time did you get to the restaurant? I didn't notice you listing anything to drink with your dinner. It must be very hard not to order wine at Palate I would imagine? That would probably help account for the very reasonable price of the dinner you had for 4.

      Finally, how do you recognize Sherry Virbila by sight?

      2 Replies
      1. re: Servorg
        w
        Wolfgang Jul 28, 2008 09:49 AM

        We had a reservation for 8p. They called during the day to confirm with us and ask if we'd be okay with the back room. We said that we'd prefer the front and they said they'd do what they can.

        We had a bottle 2005 Beaune 1er Cru, Cent Vignes, Roland Thevenin, with our dinner. It was $52. It was difficult limiting ourselves to one bottle.

        We were talking to Octavio after dinner and he pointed her out to us. We didn't know it was she when we were talking with their party at dinner.

        1. re: Servorg
          m
          mangia Aug 12, 2008 07:28 PM

          I did have a reservation and got the communal table. Weekday, too..The backroom was empty and univiting.

          Next time I will ask when I make the reservation. The communal table was uncomfortable. One of those situations where the chairs don't clear the table legs.

        2. notmartha Jul 29, 2008 08:47 PM

          Thanks for the review. I'm looking forward to my upcoming visit and your description will definitely help me pick out the better items to try.

          1. a
            azibo Jul 29, 2008 09:12 PM

            I was floored by this restaurant. The food is incredible, the service unpretentious, and the prices so reasonable it would be a complete shame not to try it at least once. I for one will definitely be returning. Their cheese plate, especially, was on par with one I had at providence for probably half the price.

            1. t
              Terahertz Jul 30, 2008 03:21 PM

              I went just after they first opened, and loved it. We are going back Saturday, and I am counting the hours ;)

              THz

              1. PinotPlease Jul 31, 2008 08:45 PM

                Where is this gastro-heaven pray tell?

                2 Replies
                1. re: PinotPlease
                  c
                  carter Jul 31, 2008 09:03 PM

                  Palate is at 929 S. Brand Blvd., Glendale, near Chevy Chase, in the former Cinnabar space if that rings a bell. Ground floor of a former Bekins storage building on the west side of the street, side street Acacia.
                  http://www.palatefoodwine.com/

                  And I like it as well as all the others!
                  If they offer you anything brined, just say yes!
                  I had a brined plum/anchovy item (hate anchovies), yet it was fabulous. Proves that good ingredients in the proper kitchen hands will change many perceptions.

                  1. re: carter
                    PinotPlease Aug 2, 2008 10:11 AM

                    I totally know that space, went to Cinnibar a couple times but it was a haul from my Mid-City environs. But now that Rick Caruso has made Glendale safe for Grove dwellers (kidding!) I'll have to check it out. Thanks

                2. tatertotsrock Aug 4, 2008 02:47 PM

                  I never have to leave Glendale again!
                  Eeek, did I just say that?!?!
                  I live in Glendale, and now with PALATE, I no longer have to feel like a stalker at BASHAN.
                  Between the two places, I am now the happiest girl in the world!
                  I have now been to PALATE for dinner 4 times and to the wine bar 1 time and I cannot say enough good things about the place!!!
                  Monday was an exceptional time since I got to dine with 4 amazingly enthusiastic foodies.
                  HAD:

                  The Porkfolio and ordered some side tid-bit of stone fruit, olive and some other goodies.
                  Perefect with our glasses of GreunerVeltliner, Sancere, and some white Bandol that I adore! (don't grade me on spelling).

                  We ate so much bread and all the delicious butter while discussing the food and wine menu and of course, kept ordering more wine, that we just went straight to the mains (I have already eaten my way through the small bits with one of my other dining friends the last 3 dinners...you've gotta order anything in a mason jar! trust me.)

                  MAINS:

                  There was a little bit of bambi, lamby-pie, porky pig, and some meaty bits...had to get in every cute creature for tastings sake.

                  The LAMB!!! Holy Sh!t!, it was amazingly flavorful, without the gamey-ness, tender without being flaccid, as some lamb tends to be at some small plate places, and was perfectly rare without smiling at us.

                  The PORK BELLY...well, didn't like it the first time I had it there 3 weeks ago...this time...AAAaaah, so good. The cruncy (without being chewey) skin, all crispy-cracklin' and delicious snuggled against the glistening greasy goodness of the fatty-bits that held the meaty-bits so tenderly...aaah, a perfect porky-romance was going on in my mouth.

                  The BUNNY RABBIT. SO GOOD! Never been thrilled with bunny but Thumper Rocked the house on this evening! Everything about the bunny was super...couldn't imagine bunny being so tender, juicey and flavorful...quite a classy presentation to boot.

                  The MEAT. What else can I say other than 28 day dry aged beef...yep, it was damn good. Perfectly cooked, perfectly tender, perfectly happy with everything.

                  We enjoyed a great French red that our friend Kent chose and it was a hit all around...he even ordered a bottled to go, and the price was beyond-reasonable. Something unheard of at about $22 per bottle...can't beat that.

                  Our group decided to do what PALATE is made for...we all drank our dessert.

                  We had some random dessert wine which I cannot remember but it was so refreshing, so sexy, so elegant, we all kept wanting more of it in our mouths...and like all sexy things...it drove us far-beyond abandon and good sense and we ordered some CALVADOS and some ARMANAC...oh hell, it was worth feeling all wrecked the next day.

                  PALATE, in all a fabulous addition to Glendale.

                  Now Romy and Nadav from BASHAN have a place to dine on their days off, they are the ones who convinced me to give the pork belly another try...and they have never pointed me in the wrong direction.

                  It's time to go exercise since the same week we all went to Palate, we went to Bashan on Thursday...ugg...my cholesterol.

                  Just GO!
                  Enjoy!

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: tatertotsrock
                    c
                    carter Aug 10, 2008 11:05 AM

                    M -
                    My first visit's comments are included in the post linked here:
                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5224...
                    Definitely not as wordy/complete as yours, yet very enthusiastic as well.
                    Glad you have another east side option!!!
                    The wines ideas is superb.

                    1. re: tatertotsrock
                      s
                      seeh2o Aug 12, 2008 11:26 AM

                      We went there Friday based on all the good advice here. We couldn't have been more disappointed. Bland elf-food and a $6.00 corkage fee on wine we bought from them while we were there. Dreadful acoustics, dreadful little stools (I saw at least half a dozen people massaging their own lower backs during the course of the elf-food meal). Nice wine selection, though.

                      Nevermore, said the raven. Never again, said I.

                      1. re: seeh2o
                        c
                        carter Aug 13, 2008 09:59 AM

                        Everyone gets an opinion on the subject, so here is SIV's 3-star version, compliments of today's LA Times.
                        http://www.latimes.com/theguide/resta...
                        Agree regarding the uncomfortable stools issue, btw., but not your thoughts regarding the food.
                        Your choice of the word bland - meaning not spicy, as in should have been or never was intended - I've got to know!!!

                        1. re: carter
                          s
                          seeh2o Aug 17, 2008 04:33 PM

                          Bland as in food should have flavor. All I could taste was sweet butter, it's nice that they make it themselves, but really.

                          1. re: seeh2o
                            c
                            carter Aug 17, 2008 09:48 PM

                            funny in your post you never metion ONE actually food item you ate or even ordered, yet you want to characterize the food as bland.
                            Their food definitely has flavor, whether it is what you like, what you wanted, or what in general is the only issue - but bland it is not.

                            1. re: carter
                              tatertotsrock Aug 18, 2008 08:06 AM

                              good morning carter,
                              on the brighter side, one less person to take up a seat that someone with taste would like to use...I'm taking a friend tomorrow as a thank you for some hard work he did for me. I am so happy that he is excited about the menu...I'm just happy to have an excuse to enjoy some more of their amazing food.
                              Porky bits and a cheese plate tomorrow and plenty of wine.
                              Have you gotten a chance to try the veal yet? AMAZING! So far, only two things didn't know my socks off: 1. I really don't like sous-vide chicken, it makes me feel as if I'm in a retirement home and need "gum-able" food so I don't lose my dentures. 2. The scallops were good, but I am way too spoiled with the scallops at Bashan, you know what I mean, you've had 'em there, right?
                              Other than that, everything I have enjoyed at Palate had been exceptionally flavorful, pretty, and pleasantly served.
                              I'm so surprised about "seeh2o"'s butter comment...jeepers, one of our firends who tried the butter said that it was better than the $15 butter she had at ludo-bites.
                              Go figure, maybe pfchangs or CCfactory will have more flavor to some people.\
                              Maybe I'll run into you at the merchant bar tomorrow or SLW tonight...I'm off to do the NIKE run at paseo colorado and I may swing by SLW for some wine if I like the line up.
                              Have a great day!

                              1. re: tatertotsrock
                                d
                                Diana Aug 18, 2008 09:26 AM

                                smooch a roo

                                1. re: Diana
                                  tatertotsrock Aug 18, 2008 11:47 AM

                                  So, Diana,
                                  I am dying to find out what you did for your birthday...details please!!!
                                  I never get to the studio city/sherm oaks area anymore but I always wanted to go to your favorite BBistro because of their beer line up.
                                  Anyway, I am dying to hear what you think of Palate, I've always enjoyed reading about wht you like to eat.
                                  You gotta try the veal, mmm! Oh, they have agreat beer selection too...major spirits too. Outrageously sexy selection of Calvados and Armanac (sp?)

                                2. re: tatertotsrock
                                  notmartha Aug 19, 2008 08:56 PM

                                  I'll probably be thrown rocks for saying this. At first I was pretty impressed with the house made butter - at least the presentation was unique and beautiful. But I don't really like the taste. It's kind of on the gamey side. Anyone find it funny that the butter is on a tile - same shape as the bathroom walls?

                                  I don't know about the $15 butter from Lubrodites, but I like trying out butter from different places - butter from Italy, Ireland, etc, and this is one I just don't like. I used to just eat butter plain (no bread) as a child as I like it so much.

                                  It sounds like from seeh2o's selection that the entrees picked maybe somewhat butter based. If it's the same corn ravioli it's just butter-cream sauce and a tad on the sweet side. They didn't have the egg on the menu when I went - or I would have ordered it.

                                3. re: carter
                                  s
                                  seeh2o Aug 19, 2008 01:17 PM

                                  Coddled hen and ravioli. There you go, two food items. Oh, the cheese plate was very tasty. That makes three food items. They also have a great wine selection.

                                  That being said, I'll still not go there again. Be respectful folks, it's cool if you like this place, I didn't, no big deal. No need for a snark-fest guys.

                                  FYI, tatertotsrock, I've never bothered to go to a CCF or PF Changs, I don't care for chain driven industrial food outlets.

                        2. notmartha Aug 10, 2008 10:47 AM

                          I really, really want to love this restaurant. The prices seems reasonable, the service was very good.

                          But, while things got off to a good start with the porkfolio and the mason jar of berkshire pork, everything else was not that great as the evening goes on.

                          We got the picked pear, and they are a very unappetizing brown color (not sure if it's supposed to be that way). A few pieces are mushy, and a few are crunchy. Oh well.

                          Then when the hot food arrive I was pretty disappointed. The pork belly didn't look anything like the photos on some of the blogs. NO crunchy skin, not a lot of fatty goodness, and the meat while tender was a bit on the dry side. Then the sweet corn ravioli arrived. The dough was either over kneaded and/or undercooked. When we cut them in half you can see the white marks on the dough, which usually means it's undercooked, but the texture was very hard as well. I cannot taste any 'smoked' ricotta as described on the menu. There were like 7 little pieces (1/2 dollar size) for an order - it's really more appetizer sized.

                          The chocolate pudding we got was good, but nothing stellar.

                          Then the bill came. First I noticed that they charged the wrong price for the quartino of rose we ordered ($20 instead of $13 on the menu). When I asked the waitress and asked for the menu to double check she said she'll honor the menu price. So check your bill.

                          Then I asked about the $6 item we didn't order, which turned out to be the house filtered tap water. OK, so it's pretty normal in Europe to pay for water, but at least you get the bottled stuff. Mozza had the same type of filtrated water and I don't think they charge for that. So I just paid up w/o further comment, but I really don't like any type of nickel & diming.

                          Anyway, the concept is very similar to AOC, but I think AOC has a nicer atmosphere, and better execution. While the food was decent as a whole (nothing drastically inedible), I don't think it's going to worth the drive for me for future visits.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: notmartha
                            f
                            foodiemahoodie Aug 13, 2008 02:41 AM

                            IMHO - it's way ahead of AOC - in creativity, execution and satisfaction.

                            In fact, it's the kind of place you could take a serious chef to - because it's great and comfortable and not too fussy.

                            1. re: foodiemahoodie
                              SecretHeadquarters Aug 13, 2008 09:07 AM

                              I agree. I've been to Palate three times now and have walked away thoroughly impressed each time. Sounds like someone went on an off-night.

                              I'd drive to Palate over AOC anyday and I live right down the street from AOC.

                            2. re: notmartha
                              tatertotsrock Aug 13, 2008 09:36 AM

                              Good Morning notmartha,
                              I think you haven't been in at least a month since the items you mentioned were on the menu the first time I was there a little over a month ago...I have been way too many times since (just there again last night) and still love it.
                              What do I know, all I know is that I have never enjoyed AOC and tried several times. No worries. If it's been over a month, give it another try because it's been exceptional each time we've gone...last nights VEAL was amazing!

                              1. re: tatertotsrock
                                notmartha Aug 13, 2008 08:07 PM

                                I went last Saturday, and the head chef was there, so I don't know how it can be an off-night. Although if they got the menu recycled from last month that can explain the price changes on the wine (but $7 mark up in a month for a quartino seems excessive).

                                I just know that my visit to AOC or Mozza (just eating the small plates) were far more tasty and enjoyable. Although I have to say AOC didn't hit a home run, but I found more stuff that's delicious (e.g. sweetbread, clams) than my Palate visit.

                                With the nickel & diming, I don't think I want to go back even if their execution improves.

                                Lastly, Wolfgang's review above stated that they were there when SIV was there and the chef knew it. So it's no magic that they put on the best show for her. Unfortunately I am not SIV and the thing I look for is consistency, whether there's a food critic visiting or not. I don't have the time to keep trying and hoping that things improve. If I have to drive 45 minutes to Glendale and pray that I get a good meal I might as well drive an hour to Mozza or AOC and KNOW that I will have a good meal.

                                So while I am glad that others had a good experience. I did not and I don't think I will bother to check again as I have a list of restaurant to try that's about a mile long. ;)

                                1. re: notmartha
                                  f
                                  foodiemahoodie Aug 14, 2008 02:55 AM

                                  "De gustibus non disputandum" - when it comes to taste there is no dispute. In other words - I suspect we differ on issues of taste and shouldn't argue about it.

                                  notmartha - I don't think you had an off night, this restaurant just isn't for you. Stick to your guns and go to Mozza or A.O.C.

                                  You know, sometimes people go to a restaurant and order what they're told is great - but it isn't great for them. Sometimes your buds buddy up with the chef's, with other people, the same exact dish is a no-go.

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