June 17, 2009

Palate Food + Wine: A Glendale Fine Dining Destination

palate sign

The first time I went to Palate, it had just opened. Before all the wonderful praise from Virbila and the blogosphere, I made a quick stop at the bar for some of the small plates. I wasn't able to get a full meal but I did get the porkfolio and the cheese, the film photo of which dons the headline of my blog.

This time around, Christine gave us the carte blanche: order whatever you want, and however much you want. We opted to come early to take advantage of the gorgeous soft light that bathes the interior for the few hours before sunset.

Personally I enjoy good design, but the quirky legal-folder type menus that are frayed and dirty aren't appealing to me. I, along with thousands of local white-collar office dwellers deal with these folders on a normal basis and would like a break come dinnertime. It's not a big deal though, as the folder houses the entire wine, beer, and dinner menu. We pounced on the first section, featuring a number of pickled items, the porkfolio or charcuterie platter, some rilettes cheekily called "mason jars" though they're only most likely served in them, not actually preserved in the glass jars.

bread and butter

The smooth layout of butter dusted with seasalt is sure pretty.

wine bar loire red

I think the wine bar is a swell place to get a glass or order a few appetizers while noshing with friends. The glasses of red are accompanied by wide, large bowls that are perfect for swirling and sniffing. If only they were dusted profusely with lint. I had to request a second glass since the first had so much lint, but the second one wasn't much better. I guess I'm spoiled by Silver Lake Wine, which uses high-quality Riedel swipes to clean their glasses to a spotless sheen.

porkfolio - charcuterie plate

The well-known porkfolio, a clever portmaneau that's perhaps little easier to mouth than (though not literally) than charcuterie, whose pronunciation I've grappled with and finally settled up in its own right (I like to say "shar-cu-TREE" like in French). In either event, though Palate formerly acquired their charcuterie from well known Paul Bertolotti enterprise Fra-Mani, they now make their salamis and cured meats in-house, for the most part. I didn't think this visit afforded a particularly better experience with the meats, and I might even venture to say the previous occasion was more generously portioned. Still it's worth getting as a signature dish.

rilettes pickled green onions & cipollini

Next was a bevy of pickled and confited items such as pickled green and cipollini onions, pork & duck rilettes, and pickled cauliflower. Light, crispy crostinis came in a pack to accompany. The pickling was rather sweet, balancing out the vinegary tang. The vegetables were addictive. I found the duck and pork rilettes to be nearly identical, with each respective one imparted with a sligth flavor of each animal.

pickled cauliflower crostinis

The first side was an appealing agnolotti stuffed with cheese and some other elements that elude me. Maybe I should keep a notebook, but Jonathan Gold relates that to taking notes erstwhile having sex. To rid myself of any such connotation, I prefer to keep track of what I remember mentally, knowing that anything worth remembering is (ta-da) worth remembering. The velvety butter sauce provided an able swimming pool, adding richness to the well-crafted pasta.

agnolotti

Next came asparagus topped with a beurre noisette or brown butter and a fried egg, whose oozy yolk made a perfect sauce to the seasonal vegetable. This isn't an inventive preparation, but it was still delicious. A parsnip was the instrument of this soup which was poured out and served at the table, with flecks of bacon studding the dish. The flavor was blander than expected.

asparagus w/ egg parsnip soup

Octopus is a difficult dish to make tender, but this version had just enough bite to charactize to mollusk, which was chopped and sauteed amongst soft, roasted bell peppers, and this yellow edible flower that seemed like it was a baby mustard flower. A fantastic dish that Christine loved more than I did.

octopus

While this roasted lamb was a bit on the dry side, the flavor was exemplary, proffering a robust flavor with a generous bite of texture. Grilled radicchio and a subtle jus kept it simple and appealing.

roasted lamb

The celebrated pork belly, which was widely discussed after the first annual (hopefully) Gold Standard food event, was good as advertised. It came apart with the flick of a fork while retaining moisture and a nice crispy sear. Bitter greens and tender farro came underneath with a savory sauce. It was gone before we knew it.

pork belly

Perhaps a disappointment compared to my previous experience with Palate's cheese, who photo is pasted upon my headline (I love film), this trio was mildly portioned. We had a sheepsmilk basque, epoisses, and pungent blue.

cheese plate

As a Glendale resident over the past two decades, I've yearned for a notable restaurant to put the city on the map. While there are excellent Middle Eastern restaurants and a city-wide famous Cuban Bakery, it was time that Glendale grew up and hosted a formidable restaurant of its own. While there were some hiccups such as the linty wine glasses and boring soup, I found Palate Food + Wine to be both relevant and compelling. Oh, I would recommend that they hire addditional servers, as one poor fellow ended up serving over half the dining room by the time we were leaving. No wonder they've gotten complaints on that avenue. If Palate is going to retain its status, they should do best to have service as a priority even in lean times such as ours.

Note: many thanks to my dearest Christine, who generously paid for our meal. Beautiful and willing to pay for meals = an unbeatable combination.

Palate Food + Wine
933 South Brand Blvd.
Glendale, CA 91204
818.662.9463

15 comments:

Food GPS said...

Not exactly a glowing review, though it sounds like you had some good dishes. That pork belly is stellar, definitely one of the best in the city.

I wouldn't call Palate "fine dining." For Glendale, maybe, but the price point isn't that high, and the dining room isn't very formal. Those giant grapes bother me, but that ultimately doesn't affect the experience much.

MyLastBite said...

The octopus dish looks AMAZING!

Love the lighting on the photos too.

Sam said...

i still haven't been lol....

weezermonkey said...

Yeah, what Sam said. :)

I had the pork belly during Gold Standard, and I can't say I was impressed. I am a total Animal pork belly fan!

mattatouille said...

Josh: I guess my definition of fine dining is loose, but I figure considering its Glendale, which tablecloths, great wine list, able (if sometimes shortstaffed) servers. The prices are low for what we consider normal in LA, but for this part of town, it's on the upper end. Consider what the competition is...But yes, Palate is nowhere near say, Spago, Melisse or Providence.

Jo: I credit the chef's creation, and the fortuitous lighting :)

Sam and Weezermonkey: it's worth trying if you're in the area. It's not too price prohibitive either.

Diana said...

The sheen of butter on those agnolotti is perfection -- I need a mini Matt to take with me to dinner so you can photograph my food for me!

Glad you and Christine had such a nice time!

mattatouille said...

Diana, we should eat together some time! Christine and I would love to meet you somewhere on the westside!

As for photos...I think with a 10 minute tutorial anyone can take good photos with almost any camera :)

choisauce said...

I think I enjoyed the meal more than u did =P all the entrees were SOLID. I think u just got a "drier" part of the lamb. I think it may have been my fav dish. it had so much dang marbled fattage, I lurved it. the octopus was a shocker with how tender and delicious it was. pork belly exceeded my expectations. agnolotti was great. just wished there was 4x the portion =P the mason jars were just too much fun to eat. seriously, a fun and delicious dinner! thank u for being the perfect dining companion :)

p.s. the pics are absolutely stunning. the lighting was stellar

Cori said...

Those photos are absolutely fabulous. As a Glendale resident myself and self proclaimed wannabe foodie, I'm embarassed to admit that I haven't yet been here!

Foodyi said...

wow.. that's so weird.. I'm from Glendale! Small world!

Apple Kang said...

Everything looks delicious. =)

PK said...

Food looks so delicious! And good pictures too.

Food, she thought. said...

Matt,

I do the same thing with regard to note taking whilst dining, that is I fail to do so. Taking pics is obtrusive enough. Glad I now have a quote to validate my inherent laziness.

Kat said...

The photos look amazing! ^_^ Interesting information about taking notes. I completely agree that if it is worth remembering then it doesn't need notes.

I was lucky to meet Christine at LudoBites last week and still have yet to meet you! lol

Pandalicious said...

OMG.. all the food looks soooo good. *drools