The Palace Grill Review
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"Is This Really the Place?"
When I ask for restaurant recommendations, I often receive emphatic yells of: "GO TO THE PALACE BAR AND GRILL ON STATE STREET,” like angry television fans talking about “The Sopranos.” With that response, I promptly equipped my pretentious food critic's notepad and satchel, and, bringing a couple of friends along, I was determined to go see what all the fuss was about.
Upon arriving at State Street, my group and I promptly navigated to where the incredibly popular restaurant was supposed to be. When we approached the building, I uttered in disbelief, "I think we're in the wrong place."
We had been expecting an ostentatious Cheesecake Factory-esque restaurant with rich men and women condescendingly drinking martinis, while drolly talking about inaccessible and irrelevant things. However, we were greeted with a building that felt initially more appropriate as an illegal money laundering front or a shady bail bonds service. My group and I apprehensively looked at each other and stepped in, hoping that what happened to us in the next few minutes wouldn't be listed as one of the dumbest ways to die or get robbed.
But as we entered, our judgment faded. We were instantly transported into the atmosphere of the restaurant, reminiscent of New Orleans. Despite having such a small floor space and an unassuming exterior, The Palace seemed to utilize its lack of space as a way to expertly shape every nuance of what we were looking at.
I think the most memorable facet of the ambience was the ability to choose either a formal or casual dress code. I don't know of any other place in which I could wear booty shorts and a backwards hat, and still feel completely at home next to people in expensive sport coats. This restaurant expertly blends a variety of demographics in the blare of southern trumpets and eclectic paintings.
When we sat down, our group also came to the conclusion that the grill was visible for a reason. The menu was a moderate size, but had a surprising amount of variety. We were exposed to a plethora of new and exotic Cajun entrees that we hadn’t known existed. Catfish and rice pilaf? Yes. Vegan pasta with Jalapeño muffins? I suppose so.
We were waited on by excellent servers, which really highlighted why this restaurant was so special. The employees worked with the intent of fostering a single unit; and to my surprise, this worked incredibly well. The Palace left all of us with full bellies and happy hearts.
But our departure unfortunately leads me to my slight criticism: while nearly everything in that restaurant was flawless, my wallet wasn't really too appreciative of the scenery. In fact, the happiness we felt was accompanied by an equal degree of incessant guilt. We realized that we had just spent a criminally excessive amount of money to purchase food laid on a plate-size that even a Smurf might call a little underwhelming.
Please, above all else, keep this in mind: if you want to eat here, your bank account might take a bit of a hit. I'll admit I cried a little. However, if money is not an issue, or you're looking for an exorbitant meal in an idiosyncratic atmosphere to gorge yourself with and feel guilty about later, I would give this a very solid recommendation.