Palo Santo

Last night I was invited to a birthday dinner party, that my friend Paul was having for his good friends Marianna and Ernesto. Marianna is a psycologist of Italian descent, and she speaks the lovliest Spanish with a trace of Chilean accent. Ernesto is a professor who still teaches in his home town in Chile. Paul had told me that Marianna and Ernesto had a favorite restaurant in Park Slope called Palo Santo, which featured Pan Latin food, and that the Executive Chef Jacques Gautier, would be doing a tasting menu. I was intrigued!

We were the first of our party to arrive and were met by Chris, the manager, who led us to our table and offerred us a drink. The restaurant front is deceiving, I could have easily walked past the restaurant if not for the number on the door. Once you walk in, however, and walk towards the back, you find yourself in a lovely dining area, that is beautifully lit and appointed. The Chef even told me that he had made the tables in the restaurant himself!

I was eager to see what Palo Santo had to offer and was pleasantly surprised when an aromatic bowl of Conch Chowder was brought out, made with little pieces of conch, diced calabaza, ginger, white wine and coconut water from young green coconuts. It was paired with a glass of ’06 Cousino Macul Saivignon Gris, Valle de Mailpo, Chile. We were off to a very good start.

I wasn’t able to get a good picture of the following course as the photography gods were not having it, but it was a Wild Striped Bass Ceviche served with a glass of Leche de Tigere, or the marinade that the ceviche was cured in. The fish was very fresh and pleasingly tart, but I thought it could have standed a bit more salt. It was paired with a ’06 Zolo Torantes, La Rioja, Argentina.

Chef Jacques’ whimsical side showed with the next course, his take on the traditional Asopao de Mariscos, soupy rice with a shellfish medley. I’ll tell you, it wasn’t the asopao I remember from Abuela’s house and Mami’s table, but it was definately worth going back to the restaurant for! The asopao lent itself easily to a Chilean ’05 Terranoble Chardonnay from the Casablanca Valley.

Next up was a Roasted Bluefish with Roast Plantain and Hot Slaw. One word:
Off-Da-Hook!! The bluefish was seared to a crispy perfection on one side, the briny hot red cabbage slaw was a very welcome surprise, and the perfect foil to the oil in the fish. The “salsa verde” that garnished the plate was made up of a brunoise of cucumber seasoned with some heat in a light citronette, and this perfectly balanced the sweet creaminess of the roasted plantain. Accompanying this course was an ’05 Leyda Sauvignon Blanc, Leyda Valley, Chile.

Okay! I’m having some fun now! A beautiful medium rare Tuna a la Plancha made an appearance, in the company of a light, refreshing watercress, apple, fennel salad finished with vin cotto and extra virgen olive oil. This was a very beautiful dish, but again, I thougt a dash more seasoning would have put it over the top. An ’05 Cantaluna Pinot Noir- Reserve, Colchagua Valley, Chile paired nicely.

Angela looked at me right about now and announced that her pants were starting to feel tight, but managed to pull herself together as the next course made its debut. A delightful braised Rabbit in Salsa Pipian served with a pan roasted fingerling potato managed to tantalize our appetities yet further. The pipian is actually a green mole that is made from pumkin seeds, sesame seeds, and coriander, and pureed with fresh cilantro and hoja santa. In the company of an ’04 Vinedo de Los Vientos Estival, Atlantida, Uruguay, this dish really shone.

With the party in full swing, we were now asking how many more courses we were expecting. When Paul piped up with the answer there was an audible groan! 12 courses??! Okay, maybe we would just have to slow things down a bit between courses. No sooner than we had come up with this ingenious plan, a gorgeous Taquito de Pato with radish salad and a papallo/ pepiche garnish (tart, almost sour greens used in Mexican dishes that were an inspired foil to the richness of the duck). I especially enjoyed the ’03 Flor de Guadalupe Zinfandel, Baja California, Mexico that was served with this course.

This is what a very happy Daisy looks like!

And this is what Daisy’s happy friends, Violette and Kate, look like! 😉

Here’s the whole party (with the exception of Paul who is hiding behind Violette), with Paula next to me, and Ernesto next to Paul. Jerry and Angie are in front on the left.

That little photo op bought us a few minutes of respite between courses, the next of which further convinced me that Chef Jacques has an adorable sense of humor. It was Churrasco of Flank Steak with Chimichurri served with a gratin of boniato and yautia, and roasted Brussels sprouts. I loved that the classic gratin was revisited by the root vegetables of the Caribbean! I found myself reaching for the salt shaker again which is too bad because the combination of flavors was brilliant. The ’03 Carlos Pulenta Vistalba Corte B, Mendoza, Argentina stood up to the beef.

Soooooo…. eight down, four to go! The Braised Lamb Shank served with a saute of Swiss chard and raisins, and an alarmingly addicting quinoa salad was mouth watering, but when I washed it down with a little of the “04 Vinedo de Los Vientos Ripasso de Tannat, Atlantida, Uruguay the pairing was so perfect I tasted things in the dish I hadn’t before.

A very interesting salad of bitter melon, membrillo, and cabrales cheese was the next course, signaling the end of the meal, but not beforea refreshing lime pie with a gingersnap crust (my favorite), and a lovely presentation of date cake, poached pears and buttercream.

Was I satisfied? Definately! Will I come back for a second spin? Without a doubt! And I have to tell you, at $75 a person for 12 courses each with a wine paired ($45 without the wine) its a pretty sweet deal. Just look at how happy my friends look!

Paul & Daiz

Palo Santo is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner, and they have a Sunday brunch, as well.

Palo Santo
652 Union Street
Brooklyn, New York 11215

718 636 6311


4 Responses to “Palo Santo”

  1. 1 Bunny February 12, 2007 at 11:53 pm

    A) The food looks gorgeous.
    B) Angie looks so cute.
    C) You look fabulous. 😀

  2. 2 daisy February 13, 2007 at 10:42 am

    thanks so much Bun! This restaurant definately merits a trip back.

  3. 3 kate February 13, 2007 at 8:00 pm

    DAISY!!!! Amazing food, great wine, and alot of laughs….dining with you is a wonderful experience..

    the bo

  4. 4 daisy February 13, 2007 at 10:42 pm

    backatcha, babe!! p.s. the camera LUVS you!!

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