Just Opened: La Palette, Queen West edition
The new outpost of La Palette on Queen West has much in common with the Kensington Market original: a nearly identically sized dining room set on checkerboard tiles, a quirky south-of-France vibe, and a menu spearheaded by executive chef Brook Kavanagh. “Although they have the same genetic makeup, they are different individuals,” says Shamez Amlani, who co-owns both incarnations of La Palette with his wife.
While the new space, formerly occupied by Taro Grill, affords some of the intimacy of the Kensington location, high ceilings and an enormous skylight provide more breathing room. At the front of the dining room is a larger bar, where about 15 people (as opposed to five in Kensington) can imbibe yellow bloody marys ($7) and genuine absinthe ($15) from the Czech Republic.
Another change is in the open kitchen, which means the restaurant would get too smoky if Kavanagh ordered too much grilling. This means that La Palette’s signature horse tenderloin (once a clandestine offering but now up-front on the menu) is slow-roasted in hay rather than grilled and comes complete with whole toasted oat risotto and rainbow heirloom carrots ($34). The menu is still game-heavy, from bison rib-eye ($35) to terrine of wild boar ($12), but there is always Le Végéterién ($24) for diners steering clear of meat (the Queen Street version consists of slow-roasted eggplant wrapped in chickpea pastry).
The new La Palette has offered a few unannounced brunches already, and Amlani is not averse to considering a permanent brunch or eventually expanding into lunch service. For now, he intends to carry on the convivial spirit of the bouchon tradition with the denizens of Queen West.