Monday, April 18, 2011

A Palate of Spring Flavors

One thing I have come to love about Cleveland bloggers is the sense of community and friendship.  Through reading each others blogs and tweeting back and forth, we develop new friendships and sometimes strengthen existing ones.  After a month or so of tweets, emails, and schedule coordinating, I joined my longtime friend CLEgal, and two "blends" Alicia and Brad for dinner at Palate along with our significant others.

Chicken liver pate and The Chancellor

Duck confit and pork belly
Since opening in late December 2010, Palate has been near the top of my "Restaurants I must try" list.  I have read great reviews of Jeff Jarrett's culinary creations and knew I must experience them for myself.  What was even more exciting about our visit this past weekend was the opportunity to try Palate's new spring menu which was released earlier last week.  One great thing I must say about Cleveland chefs in general is their dedication to using the freshest seasonal ingredients available.  After a round of drinks, we decided to order a few small plates to share.  We ordered the chicken liver pate, wild mushroom bread pudding, braised pork belly, and duck confit.  The pate was the best for a group to share and the presentation was only a preview for some of Chef Jarrett's other unique platings.  The pate itself had a nice smooth texture and a savory flavor which paired well with the sweetness of the black currant jam served with it.  While I am usually not a huge bread pudding fan for dessert, the wild mushroom bread pudding was excellent.  I love mushrooms and there was nothing bland or dry about this bread pudding.  My favorite of the four small plates was the duck confit in a hoisin glaze plated on top of Asian slaw with peanut sauce.  I am beginning to wonder if I have extra umami taste receptors since I love almost all Asian inspired flavors.  The duck was so tender it practically fell off the bone and the slaw had that perfect balance of sweet and savory I have come to love from Asian style food.  Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to sample the pork belly (I think I was too distracted with the duck and bread pudding) but the few fingerling potatoes and mushrooms served with the pork pleased my palate.      
Pancetta wrapped pheasant

For my entree, I went with the pancetta wrapped pheasant breast with zucchini and bacon ragout, oyster mushrooms, and french onion puree.  The deciding factor for me was I never had pheasant and I always love to try something new.  To describe pheasant, I would say it is somewhere between chicken and turkey.  Mine was very moist and flavorful and the french onion puree really brought out the natural flavors of the bird.  The pancetta added a nice subtle crunch to the dish while the zucchini and oyster mushrooms emphasized the idea of a spring garden inspired dish.  My only complaint on the dish was a clove of garlic that made its way under one of the breast pieces.  Overall, I would order this again and recommend it to an undecided diner.  My boyfriend ordered the flat-iron steak with mac and cheese and brown roasted cauliflower.  He said it was an enjoyable dish but found the steak sauce a bit on the salty side.  Also, he was more impressed with the flavors of the cauliflower (and I will agree since I had a taste) in comparison to the mac and cheese.  After dinner, Chef Jarrett came to our table.  We all had a great time chatting with the chef about the menu, Michael Symon's visit to Palate, and local restaurants in general.  He also is very involved with Dinner in the Dark, an event which I plan on attending in the future.

I also had two of the featured libations.  The bacon melonball martini was a fun liquid play on prosciutto wrapped cantaloup.  It's electric green appearance is pleasing to the eye while the sweet smoky flavors from Midori and bacon infused vodka are pleasing to the palate.  While I did enjoy this drink, I loved the cucumber loco which is Palate's take on a cucumber margarita.  Maybe it was the cool and refreshing flavors or maybe it was the fact I love anything with Patron.  Another thing I must note would be Chef Jarrett's Iron Chef-esque plating designs.  Even though no one at our table ordered one, our server showed us the spring garden salad which is served in a small metal bucket.  I also marveled at CLEgal and CLEguy's dirty bon bons which were served in a terra cotta flower pot garnished with a gummi work and fondant flower.  Overall, Palate is a much needed addition to the Strongsville restaurant scene which is dominated by familiar chains.  I would highly recommend visiting Palate next time you are looking for a great dining experience.

Until next time...follow your heart, fulfill your hunger!


  1. they do the chicken liver pate like that at amp 150 too, such cute presentation.

  2. The last time I had pheasant was in Milan about 8 years I know where to get my fix. Thanks - it looks great!