Palate Food + Wine: Pairable Mediterranean Small Plates in Glendale [CLOSED]

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Restaurant Sign Los Angeles

Palate Food + Wine fills a Cinnabar sized hole beneath the Wine Vault.

Cinnabar’s closure in summer 2005 left a gaping hole in Glendale’s dining scene. It took almost three years to fill the space on the ground floor of one of the city’s pre-eminent wine storage facilities. Based on an early experience at Palate Food + Wine, this restaurant was likely worth the wait.

Octavio Becerra, Patina Group co-founder and Joachim Splichal’s culinary Lieutenant for 21 years, opened the wine-focused Mediterranean small plates restaurant on May 16. He partnered with chef Gary Menes (Patina, The French Laundry), wine director Steve Goldun (Woodland Hills Wine) and general manager Laura O’Hare (Patina Group). The menu should change on a weekly basis thanks to Becerra’s long-standing relationships with local farmers.

Palate’s dining room features soaring 18-foot ceilings, an exhibition kitchen and massive bowls overflowing with purple and green “grapes,” to advertise the restaurant’s wine component. Translucent art-lined screens separate the dining room from a communal table and bar area. Palate had only been open a week, but it was bustling with diners familiar with Becerra’s cooking and curious locals. For the most part, it was an older crowd. Then again, it wasn’t even seven o’clock when we sat down.

Bread Los Angeles

To start, we received warm complimentary gougères served with a house-made butter slab dusted with fennel, ground peppercorns and finely diced chives.

We each drank 2.5-ounce pours of wine, a nice option to have. I ordered a crisp 2005 Roger Neveu Sancerre ($4) from Loire, France. Allison ordered 2004 Castello di Cacchiano Chianti Classico ($4.50) from Tuscany, Italy.

Charcuterie Los Angeles

Porkfolio ($12) is essential ordering for the name alone: shaved Prosciutto di Parma, prosciutto San Danielle, lomo, salumi, toscano, nostrano + gentile. According to our waitress, the meats all come from La Quercia in Iowa, but Chef Becerra is currently aging salumi and lardo in back. The Porkfolio came with superior slabs of garlic bread, crostini and three mustards: spicy Dijon, whole grain Dijon and Moutarde Violette, a French mustard colored purple with grape skins.

On the opening menu, there were two sections that are rarely (if ever) seen at L.A. restaurants: Mason Jars (potted Berkshire pork, potted poulet and olives, citrus, thyme + EVOO) and Something Pickled (fennel, zucchini, baby carrots, cipollini onions and peaches).

Scallops Los Angeles

Halved sea scallops ($12) were perfectly seared on top, served with melted leeks and tangerine sauce soubise, plus bi-colored roasted cherry tomatoes.

Pork belly ($16) was staggering, a thick slab of meatier-than-expected bacon. Somehow, the majority of fat melted away, leaving the skin and base nicely caramelized and the interior absolutely luscious. A refreshing salad highlighted by chiogga beets, Fuji apples and Bermuda onions counterbalanced rich bacon.

Squash Blossoms Los Angeles

Squash blossoms ($9) could have been crisper, but featured a nice ricotta filling and a zesty tomato fondata base.

Palate places a major emphasis on their cheese program, with a menu written by Sebastian Craig of The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills. As a result, the restaurant only offers one dessert per night, and we ordered it.

Dessert Los Angeles

The textbook buttermilk panna cotta ($6) was potted and topped with sweet strawberry compote.

After the meal, Octavio Becerra was nice enough to lead us on a tour of the back rooms, including the retail wine shop, which should debut by early June, focusing on hand-crafted, artisanal wines from regions like Piedmont, Burgundy, the Loire Valley and northern Rhône. Becerra also showed us the walk-in cheese closet, where he’s currently aging house-made salumi and lardo. Sadly, they’re still five months away. In the meantime, there are still plenty of reasons to eat and drink at Palate. Even better: the offerings are reasonably priced and portioned.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

Blog Comments

Fiori di zucca ripieni, stuffed zucchini blossoms, are not supposed to be crispy, it isn’t tempura.

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