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APRIL 1 2009: Dinner at Palate Food + Wine – Glendale, CA

palatedining.jpgI've been dying to go here since the place opened last fall (2008), but we just never seemed to get over there. It's not like Glendale is even that far from where I live, yet getting to Palate eluded me. So, when asked by my book club where we should meet, I hoped they would agree to help me check this one off of my list. Since they all love wine too, it wasn't a hard sell, especially since all our husbands usually go to nice places like this for their book club meetings, leaving us jealous and bitter considering they don't even read. Well, not all the same book on purpose.

More restaurant than wine bar (though it has two and one that serves hard liqour as well), I was thrilled by their clearly well-chosen list of wines by the glass that covered every region and style. It was also great that you had a choice of size in your pour (taste/glass/carafe), so you could really jump around the menu and try several wines without putting you under the table. However, the prices were a bit steep for the Valley. For a 2.5 ounces taste of red or white you'll shell out between $5-8 and the cost quickly moves up from there. I know Pinots from the Fiddlestix Vineyard are generally expensive but $15 for a 5oz pour would have been more hard to swallow if it wasn't so good. The wine was flowing, so I guess the other patrons didn't seem to mind. Buying a bottle would definitely be the best option especially if you're with a group, since those prices were fairly reasonable when you consider you get 5 glasses out of it.

palatebread.jpgAs for the food, it was well presented with cheese choices to die for (they have a little room devoted to the stuff), an amazing charcuterie platter and plates in sizes that were good to share or eat yourself without the need of a doggy bag...all for fairly affordable prices. I only really eat bread when I eat out and their's was delicious, especially with the fresh herbed butter. I ordered the Arugula Salad with Olives, Tangerine and Pistachios, as well as the Pork Belly with Roasted Beets and Parsnips over Bulgar, both of which made me quite happy with my choices. Everyone seemed equally satisfied with their dishes, since all talking ceased once the food hit the table. We had an issue with one of our meals and I have to give them kudos for immediately correcting the problem and removing the item from our bill without the usual machinations.

What was great about the experience is that I got to choose wines to go with my food (they are happy to recommend) and wasn't overly stressed by the process or stuffed with excess. The place was jam-packed on a Wednesday night for hours, so they are obviously filling a need people are willing to pay for even in hard times. The service suffered a bit due to the fullness of the restaurant, but I'm sure that's a problem they are happy to have. The menu changes seasonally, so regulars have new things to try with each visit. My next stop will be on a Sunday to try their 3 glass wine flight paired with a single dish for $24. Love to see how others pair food and wine in the hope that someday I'll get it more right than wrong. Palate is a class act in a sea of mediocre wine venues, so in the end I guess you get what you pay for.

Palate Food + Wine – 933 South Brand Boulevard, Glendale, CA – 818-662-9463 – Reservations Recommended

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