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Nov 14, 2008 08:39 PM

Palate, Glendale...needs some flavor

Tried this interesting place the other night. It was packed and I was lucky to get a space at the bar. At least I thought so. The space is dedicated to small plates. I was in the back where it has more of ambiance of a factory with islands and bar stools. Not an elegant place, but not bad either if you are only going out for a glass of wine and a small snack.

The wine selections were all over the wine world map. I started with some interesting whites, like a dynamite Gruner Veltliner. The Vacqueyras Blanc was also tasty if a touch bitter. The Mikulski Bourgogne Blanc was delicious. The reds I tried were equally tasty.

But the food....given the buzz, the crowd, the chef, the food is just plain.

The pork belly needed salt badly and hardly had any flavor at all. The trotters were quite good (stuffed with ham hocks) and served with a few slices of apple and 1/2 of a brussel sprout (get used to it). The porkfolio was also tasty but it was after all a selection of salumi (2 slices each no matter how small the salami...for instance 2 nickel sized slices of pepperoni). I did not understand the duck rillettes served in a too large glass bowl with some very brittle slices of crostini. It was hard digging the rillettes out of the bowl and not with the crostini as they just broke had to use a fork. But there were these wings of crostini flying out of the vase of duck. And again they needed some salt and flavor.

Under-seasoning is such a negative for a chef of Becerra's caliber. While none of the plates that I tasted that night were bad, none were very good either.

The cheese course was a bit expensive ($12 for 3 cheeses) and the portions were quite small. For example the espoisses was served on a spoon the size of one of my babies' spoons....very very small. Embarrassingly small. I kept staring at it and wondered how the server could deliver it.

The service was good until it got busy and then you are on your own.

In the end it was too expensive, but I did like the wine.

Would I go back?


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  1. We tried it about three weeks ago. Our hostess complained she was hungry after leaving. It was pricey. I like 3/4 of the pork belly but it was extremely filling for me. I was puzzled that they couldn't serve me an aperitif such as sweet vermouth even; only wine; puzzling. The food portions were small except for the mason jar country style pate. All in all it the tastesdidn't seem to fit together. Because it was so pricey I doubt my wife and I would go back. But it was crowded and people were drinking wine that night.

    1. " It was hard digging the rillettes out of the bowl and not with the crostini as they just broke had to use a fork."

      That's how you're supposed to do it - or use a knife. It's not a dip.

      I've found the place to be fairly priced. The whole idea of the place is brilliant

      Had a party last week and a (chef) friend brought a european food critic He said Palate was his favorite restaurant.

      8 Replies
      1. re: foodiemahoodie

        foodiemahoodie, I've been meaning to try Palate, but I'm concerned by the OP's reasonable-sounding criticisms -- which are similar to those in another recent thread -- and your reply doesn't address specific issues raised. Can you help?

        For example, are the dishes well-seasoned, rather than under-seasoned, to your taste, contrary to this OP and the other OP? You "found the place to be fairly priced," but what about those tiny portions on the $12 cheese course?

        Thanks if you can provide more details.

        1. re: sbritchky

          I don't think $12 for a cheese course is unreasonable. And a cheese course isn't supposed to be a ton of cheese. It's supposed to be about 2 mouthfuls (a normal person's mouthfuls, I take very small bites) of each type of cheese.

          1. re: sbritchky

            Sorry if I'm little late to this response.

            1. Underseasoned. My experience (with over 1/2 visits) - has been usually perfectly seasoned, and twice with too much salt (once with a goat confit, the other with the stuffed trotters).

            2. I don't have a problem with a 12 buck cheese plate. I've only had it three times, twice with friends and once eating solo. The friends had no issue with size. But if you put a gun to my head and said that I had to weigh in on this issue, I'd say it was on the small-ish side.

          2. re: foodiemahoodie

            I'm with foodiemahoodie.

            I've never had a bad meal there out of the 3 times I've visited. I found the dishes to be generally just right. The sous-vide Chicken is outstanding; their Rillettes (Salmon and Pork varieties) were both spot on. But, what's "well seasoned" for one person may be "under seasoned" for another. YMMV.

            1. re: exilekiss

              Now I remember. I looked at their Web site when people first started raving about the place and saw that the owners of "palate" -- lower-case -- think of their restaurant as "down-to-earth." For them, it’s also "passionate" and "a vibrant gathering place in an inspiring setting" -- an old Bekins moving depot -- "designed [I assume they mean redesigned] to nurture a sense of community."

              Uh, OK. I hope the guy who wrote that doesn't handle sharp instruments in the kitchen.

              But, if they can cook, the menu looks like a collection of appealing Chez Panisse side dishes, 1971-present, and the list of mostly young wines is interesting and also includes some greatly respected and well-known bottles. For example, they claim to have a 1997 Shafer Hillside Select cabernet for a mere $468 -- actually, an outstandingly low restaurant price for this rare vintage, which earned 97 points from Wine Spectator and 99 from Robert Parker.

              I always respect the opinion of exilekiss, but keeping in mind her warning that YMMV, I'll slip a packet of salt into my pocket before giving palate a try (and report back sometime soon).

              1. re: sbritchky

                I have found the dishes I've had at Palate to be focused on the fresh flavors of the core ingredients, rather than a bunch of herbs and seasonings that were developed to cover up flavor.

                It's definitely a "taste" thing, though. I can understand that what tastes "fresh" to me, might taste "bland" to someone else.

                1. re: annalulu

                  Additional salt to taste is easy to add by the individual diner. If the food is over salted during preparation the chef has created a real problem for "most" diners that night.

              2. re: exilekiss

                I've tried the Duck and the White Fish Rillettes. I felt the Duck was just right while the White Fish is on the salty side for me.

            2. I went on Thanksgiving 2008 and was very disappointed. I ordered the ham and it was dry and tasteless. My two companions ordered the turkey which was moist but ordinary. imo the decor is cold, uninspired and dated. Service was okay ... just okay. I expected exceptional service with the amount of staff lingering around. I wouldn't go back either and neither would anyone in my party.

              1 Reply
              1. re: anitaweaver

                Anita, I totally agree with your assessment of the decor. And they take themselves way too seriously there.....!

              2. went last night for Sunday Supper. amazing. cheese portions are perfect. pairings phenom. prime sirloin was so buttery and tender and the sea bass was terrific. really honored the beautiful raw materials. second meal there in two weeks. consistently solid. also saw the condé nast epicurious on line group there who thought it was great.

                true on service thursday -saturday. when they get busy, service can be challenging. so we try to eat there sun-wed. saw a host of foodie and industry folks there. great sunday vibe.

                interested in how varying the opinions are across this board on PALATE. we know what our experience is and are grateful for their existence. we eat out...too much (e.g., this week BAZAAR, PIZZERIA ORTICA, LA MILL COFFEE BOUTIQUE, CHURCH & STATE, DTF and find ourselves back at PALATE a fair amount (seven or eight times this year). you really need to go and decide for yourself.

                1 Reply
                1. re: revets2

                  Was also there last night for an early dinner. We arrived before 5:30 pm and were surprised to see the number of servers (so many for such a small room) getting ready, folding napkins, straightening table cloths.... We tried both prime sirloin and sea bass for entree with one wine pairing--both were very tasty, very fresh. I like that they don't use too much spice or seasoning. We could really taste the freshness and flavor of the ingredients. Dessert (panna cotta) was also delicious. Service was just attentive enough but not intruding. This was my third time there. I live on the Westside and happen to be in Glendale once a month. I feel this is a very solid (not amazing) restaurant and am happy to dine there whenever I'm in the area, but would not make it a destination and drive an hour for it.