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“Palo Santo”


  Occasion: Cuisine: Area: Cost: Rating:
  Night Out Latin/Mexican Brooklyn Moderate Good

MY DINNER AT PALO SANTO

I couldn’t take my eyes off the cat. She was patrolling the garden, rather languidly actually, delicately tip-toeing on the high stone wall, balanced perfectly on a precarious battlement of jagged mismatched rocks. She was a slightly chubby calico, with a glossy coat of assorted patches of color that together resembled some crazy psychedelic quilt. She stopped. She sat. Her ears twitched. Then she got up again and continued her stroll—tip-toe-tip-toe—once around, and then back again. Harvey and I were watching her through glass French doors from inside the sunken dining room of Palo Santo, an irresistibly charming restaurant in the garden level of a Park Slope brownstone. We thought she would wander off but she didn’t. She wasn’t going anywhere. I don’t blame her. I didn’t want to leave either.

Palo Santo, which opened August 8th of last year, is a magical place. It is a restaurant that beams you to another place—a dining room somewhere in the remote mountains of South America where the minty sweetness of pine mixes with the lush smoke of a blazing fire in the night. The restaurant takes its name from an evergreen native to South America and the Caribbean. The wood is not only the restaurant’s moniker it is also its foundation. Chef-owner Jacques Gautier, who was most recently the chef at La Brunette, built most of his beautiful restaurant from Palo Santo trees. He sanded heavy tables and chairs from dense blond Palo Santo trees, and covered walls with collages made from its trunks. He’s covered the chair’s seats in hand-woven Bolivian tapestries, collected raw bricks from a reclaimed Williamsburg Street for the walls, sourced flagstone for floors, hand-hammered copper for a long food bar overlooking an open kitchen, pressed leaves and stones into glass-topped tables, and sewed together old coffee and spice bags from his travels around South America as wall hangings and curtains. He’s built a fireplace up front, and hired Adam Distenfeld, a sculptor, to create a meditative Zen rock garden out back, with a little pool and a waterfall, surrounded by high walls, where we found our friend the calico roaming around.

His menu at Palo Santo is refreshing; his simple and paired down approach combines Latin American Market cuisine (Jacques lived in Argentina for a while as a wine maker’s assistant in Mendoza) with accents from his C ... [more, click below]

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