At precisely 1 p.m. on Wednesday afternoons, people faithfully gather in front of Palette. A neighborhood ritual that began back in June, when the trailblazing restaurant began serving Salvadoran pupusas at their weekly outdoor pop-up.
For the month of July, Palette is dishing up Peruvian ceviche, a recipe inspired by their own sommelier Franz Zarate. As the first plates come out of the kitchen, a delectable scent wafts down the street. Zesty lime juice, the irresistible fragrance of fresh herbs, and a mixture of fiery spices. The aroma is enough to make your mouth water.
Maintaining a social distance, you patiently wait for your turn to order, enjoying a light breeze and the early afternoon sun. When you make it up to the counter, a server asks how spicy you prefer your meal. You settle on a medium heat and happily oblige when he recommends pairing your ceviche with an ice-cold draft beer for only an additional $2.
The server lets you know that in August Palette will begin serving a new international dish. Traditional Filipino BBQ featuring marinated pork slices on bamboo skewers.
You thank the server before settling in at a nearby perch and before you know it, your dish is coming out of the kitchen. Lifting the spoon to your mouth, you’re immediately rewarded with a bite packed with flavor. Delicate rock cod, red onions, Peruvian corn and sweet potatoes expertly cooked in bright, citric juices.
You take your time savoring the dish, cleansing your palate with sips of beer every few bites. There are plenty of people indulging in ceviche, but you notice that other people are picking up boxes from the kitchen window. Glossy, white marbled containers with the word “PALETTE” emblazed across the top.
A sign by the front door tells you that this is “Palette at Home” – the take-out experience reimagined. Each giftbox contains a meal kit or a take-out dish, with five percent of the proceeds being donated to the Bay Area Arts Workers Relief Fund. A cause that you know is very dear to Palette, as it’s also a prominent neighborhood art gallery.
Scraping the bottom of your plate to get the last morsels of ceviche, you imagine how much fun it would be unpack one of those giftboxes in the park for an afternoon picnic. Palette is donating an extra $1 for every take-out post they are tagged in on Instagram, and packaged in a beautiful container like that, who could resist taking a photo? Especially with Yerba Buena Gardens as a backdrop.
Packing up your things, you decide you’ll try “Palette at Home” this weekend. It’s a refreshing concept and the weather is supposed to be beautiful. Who knows, you could get used to dining like this.