Friday, February 1, 2008

Restaurant Review: Palate

Last night, my husband and a couple of our friends braved the cold, wet weather to go to Palate, a wine and dessert bar in the Oakhurst area. Yes, it's a wine blogger reviewing Palate. I figured I would start easy.

We chose the "cheese plate" appetizer, which ended up being enough cheese, bread, olives, olive oil, and hummus for four to share comfortably. The hummus was very garlicky and a bit too strong for my taste, but good. The olive oil was very nicely herbed. The waiter brought out a small taste of the roasted garlic brie soup, which was good but not as creamy or flavorful as I had imagined it.

For dinner, I considered the prosciutto and pear panini, which I've had and enjoyed before, but I ended up with the macadamia-encrusted scallops, which are a special but which the chef is considering adding to the regular menu. They came with a choice of green vegetable and very garlicky mashed potatoes. After tasting the potatoes, I wondered if Emeril was hiding in the kitchen and throwing cloves of garlic into it when the chef's back was turned. The scallops were tender and sweet, if a little buttery. My husband had the meatloaf, which he said was very good, and I got to taste some of the special pasta, a three-cheese orecchiete (aka really fancy mac n' cheese, according to the waiter), which was brought to the table still bubbling from the oven and had a nice balance of cream and sharpness.

Of course, if you go to Palate, you have to have dessert. In addition to a nice selection from Southern Sweets, they have their own chocolate bread pudding and other temptations that they make in-house. I can't resist the chocolate raspberry mousse cake from SS. The bread pudding is also good, but not consistently chocolate throughout.

With the cold weather last night, the most popular wine choice was the Van Ruiten Old Vine Zinfandel, which was everything a Zin should be -- a big, red fruit bomb -- but also smooth. I had a good Oregon Pinot Gris with the scallops (I apologize -- I didn't write the name down, and it's not listed on the online menu; I think it was Big Fire), and it was very flavorful and fruity.

Now if only we could get either Java Monkey or Palate to move their every other Thursday wine tastings off by a week, we could alternate!

Score card:
Atmosphere: Very good
Food: Very good
Wine list: Short but excellent selections
Wait staff: Knowledgeable & with good recommendations for pairings
Desserts (yes, with me, this gets its own category): Excellent
Vegetarian friendly? Yes
Kid friendly? Probably, I've seen them in there, but c'mon, it's a wine bar! Wine is for grown-ups!
Would I go back? Absolutely!


Dan said...

Wait a minute, "buttery" is not a good thing when it comes to scallops? And what's wrong with a few dozen extra cloves of garlic in the potatoes?

On a more serious note, I know from my own experience that Big Fire Pinot Gris is a fine wine, so if that's what you had you had a treat. I'm so over the fruit-bomb Zins these days that it was hard for me to consider your description of the Van Ruiten objectively, but maybe that's just me.

See you Saturday, perhaps?

Cecilia Dominic said...

Yes, we're pouring at Sherlock's 3-5. See you then! CD