Palo Santo Restaurant and Wine Bar
Latin locavore w/ rooftop garden
A pricey ($30-60) latin american restaurant with organic meat & flexitarian options in (4th & 5th Ave.) (Park Slope) with brunch & date night offerings.
Mon-Thu: 6pm-10:30pm Fri: 6pm-11pm Sat: 10am-3pm, 5pm-11pm Sun: 10am-3pm, 5pm-10:30pm
Before any of Jacques Gautier’s Latin American market cooking hits your lips, simply mouthing words from his menu is delicious: Asopado de Mariscos. Cazuela de Hongos. Palo Santo occupies the ground floor of a brownstone in Park Slope where the menu changes daily. Each piece of recycled paper showcases Chef Gautier’s seasonal inspiration. Mellow Caribbean music, exposed brick walls and a garden where fresh herbs grow wildly complete the down-to-earth vibe. Paintings by local artists adorn the walls, offsetting brick with scenes of ocean and sky.
Maybe these paintings inspired my first choice of the evening, a refreshing watermelon salad. Juicy cubes of watermelon were tossed with queso fresco, slivers of red onion and just-picked mint. I couldn’t resist pork tacos when I learned every tortilla is made to order. Stuffed with succulent pork, guacamole and crisp sliced radish, these tacos were playfully served on a skewer. Tuna ceviche next captured my attention. Lime, chili paste and cilantro leapt off the plate with each mouthful of tuna. There is something lighthearted about Chef Gautier’s cuisine, even regarding presentation. Pan roasted bluefish topped with salsa verde arrived on a bright green stripe of a banana leaf. Sweet plantains were the star of this dish, caramelized on the outside, melting under the slight pressure of a butter knife. The grand finale was grass-fed skirt steak, artfully topped with garlic scapes—some stretching over a foot in length. Despite adornments, it was the marinade, expert sear and medium rare temperature that mesmerized with each bite. Some customers might lament that a favorite dish comes and goes too quickly on the daily-changing menu, while others will return eager to see what the chef has up his sleeve next. It seemed to me that at Palo Santo there are no precise rules or recipes – only passionate cooking from the heart.