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Dec 7, 2009 09:12 AM

Palate Food + Wine (Review) - worst dining experience in a long, long time.

I visited Palate Food + Wine in Glendale for the first time this past Saturday night. I was excited to try a new dining experience and read all the wonderful reviews about the food. It was about 8:15pm when I ventured out and my party of 2 did not have a reservation. I called the restaurant to find out if there would be a table available in about 30 minutes and I was told to come on in - that there wouldn't be a problem.

When I arrived, I was greeted by two hostesses. I explained to them that we did not have any reservations (what I did not do, which in afterthought I should have, was explained I was the party that called earlier). After that, the hostesses whispered to themselves for a good 2-3 minutes, as if to figure out what to do with us. I should have listened to my chow sense and bailed right then and there - but it was the food and wine I was there for, after all, not for good hostessing skills.

After their conference - we were told there were no tables available, but could be seated at the wine bar area while we waited for a table (about 30 minutes). After being lead to the bar area, we were told to let them know if we decided to eat at the bar. We told both the hostess seating us, and the other hostess that we would like a table. This was at 8:45.

We sat at the bar and waited a good 15 minutes for someone to take our drink order. I was very pleased with my first selection ('05 Westwood - a red blend from Sonoma), and, we decided to nibble on a cheese plate. The cheese took about 20 minutes to come out - but it was a delightful selection (you select 3 on a list of about 20) and it served with homemade crostini. After enjoying the cheese and wine, I realize that we are still waiting for our table! I look at my watch and it's 9:45 at this point. The bartender asked us if we want more food - we tell him we were waiting for a table - and ask him to inquire from the hostess if there was a table.

The hostess promptly shows up as we are paying the bar tab - and here's the kicker. She waves us over to the other side of the bar. We are expecting to go into the main dining room area, and she leads us to a table about 2 feet from the bar we were just at. I said to her - "This?" - and she says condescendingly "It's a table" - and walks off before we can say anything else. My dining companion and I were dumbfounded.... so much so, we go up and went back to the bar where we were seated and proceeded to order.

We were still determined to salvage the evening - and ordered from the bartender. We ordered the roasted squash soup, the beef cheek ravioli, and the cauliflower tart. The soup had a nice roasted flavor but nothing to write home about - and the pepitas they added to it were too hard to eat. I tried a bite of the ravioli - the pasta was perfectly cooked and the filling was tasty. The tart, however, was a disaster. It tasted like a mushy goop. I had one bite and wanted to spit it out - and ended sending the dish back. At this point, we were SO done with the ridiculousness of the evening and just ready to go home.

I have no issue with eating at the bar - but what I do have issue with is the air of pretentiousness that hostesses convey that make it seem like they could care less about what you request. While we did not have reservations, if we were told there would be no table available for the rest of the night, we could make a decision if we would stay or not. Additionally, if after the 30 minutes or so, no table would have opened up, I would think it would be fair to approach the party and let them know. Add that to pretty much being ignored by the service at the bar and having to ask for everything (napkins, water refills, utensils), made for a very unpleasant evening.

The damage: 2 glasses of wine, 1 cheese plate, 1 soup, 1 ravioli = $63 pre-tip. The real damage: being ignored & awful service = never, ever stepping foot in that establishment again. Palate food + wine is more like Palate pretentious + apathy

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

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  1. Former chef at Palate now operates his own place in Sherman Oaks called MarcheLA, at 13355 Ventura Blvd., if a similar type menu is of interest.

    1 Reply
    1. re: carter

      Thanks, carter. I wonder if the attitude came when the chef left. I can't imagine the place would stay open much longer if the same type of service continues.

    2. Your experience is quite unfortunate. The host should have told you that dinner is served both in the bar are tables as well as the main dinning room. In fact, I prefer the bar area fpor dinning, which I've done at least a dozen times since opening. Let me just say that owners Octavio (food) & Steve (wine) are two of the greatest and most dedicated professionals in the business. They certainly would make things right were you to relay your experience. In light of the poor treatment you received on your first visit, if you enjoy great food & wine, you owe it to yourself to give them another try.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Grog

        Grog is correct, but if you feel the bad treatment is just too much to put up with was the only reason for my post.
        The attitude you refer to could be unique to one person, and/or one moment in time.
        It is surely not the attitude of the entire restaurant, headed by two of the better people in the biz, period!

      2. Have you tried expressing your displeasure with management?

        1. I have had very good treatment from the staff at Palate. Almost all of my food experience has been between B+ and A+. I do think you should call Steve (manager and wine guy) and tell him your experience. He would want to know.

          1. I live close by, and have been a few times. Each time (different nights, different levels of busyness) the service has been offhand, a little ungracious.

            I want to emphasize this has been my experience in the dining room. When I've stopped in for a drink in the back room, and sat at the bar, it was loud, but lovely. (Also, Cut Chemist was there and spinning, which helps to explain why I would consider going back.)

            1 Reply
            1. re: cjla

              I've had better experiences at the bar as well. Not to say that service was bad in the dining room, but it just seems like I got stuck in corners of the restaurant that don't get as much traffic from the waiters. That might be due to the fact that I've never had a reservation when I went. But if there wasn't a table open, I just ate at the bar.