A restaurant, as anyone who has worked in one can tell you, is often several restaurants at once, cheap and quirky midweek but an insufferable tourist trap come Sunday, or buzzing with happiness at Sunday lunch but slow and dreary at night. Eva’s Sunday-night family dinners have a sleepy, cheerful feel; Campanile’s Monday family dinners are, if anything, a bit stern. Lou’s Monday wine dinners attract the kind of people who would rather gaze at an old-vine Anjou than at Miss November. Jar’s midweek Suzpree nights drop a full-fledged Asian-fusion restaurant into a New American steak house. Special nights nudge customers into bonding with their favorite restaurants, including them in the grand experiment.
But as far as restaurants-within-restaurants, nobody may take the concept quite so far as Palate Food + Wine, lately home to Tuesday-night Cirque du Fromage and the afternoon Sunday Sessions, both of which begin to redefine what a restaurant might be. When you’re sitting at a Sunday Session, drinking a wild new Alsatian Riesling, listening to DJs like Cut Chemist or Madlib spin on their way back from out-of-town gigs, eating tacos of brined range goat, grilled, simmered overnight in duck fat, and tucked into tortillas with pumpkin and pomegranate seeds, there are few places you’d rather be. There is always an inexpensive one-dish meal — turkey potpie, pan-roasted cod, etc. — for $12 or so (the tacos were far less).
Tuesdays see Cirque du Fromage, the kingdom of Todd the Cheese Guy, which are wines paired with things like burrata with persimmon, truffle-cheese risotto, a croque madame, and stinky, goaty chabichou du poitou with walnuts. Also, probably a half-dozen other things, because Todd will not be denied.
PALATE FOOD + WINE: 933 S. Brand Blvd., Glendale. (818) 662-9463, palatefoodwine.com.