Palo Santo, NYC


Palo Santo

Executive Chef: Jacques Gautier
Cuisine: Latin American, Caribbean
Neighborhood: Park Slope, Brooklyn
Price: $20 pp for brunch
Address: 652 Union St., Brooklyn, NY 11215
Phone: (718) 636-6311
Hours: Brunch: Sat & Sun: 10am – 3pm
Dinner: Mon – Thu 6pm – 10:30pm, Fri 6pm – 11pm, Sat 5pm – 11pm, Sun 5pm – 10:30pm

My friends and I had all signed up for a top roping class at Brooklyn Boulders this past Sunday and we decided what better way to prepare for rock climbing and belaying than with a lovely brunch in the neighborhood?  A couple $1 mimosas to ease my fear-of-heights-and-falling nerves probably didn’t hurt either… (don’t worry, we were all perfectly sober by the time we got to the class.)  We picked Palo Santo due to its close proximity to the Brooklyn Boulders gym plus its stellar yelp rating.  I realized once we arrived that I had eaten Palo Santo’s tacos before at the Yelp Snow Ball in 2010 —and it was the singular standout restaurant for me at that entire affair.  Thus, I was super eager to try more of Chef Gautier’s amazing Latin American fusion cuisine.  Chef Gautier’s Caribbean background and extensive travel through Latin America are reflected in his cuisine and the restaurant’s decor.  Before opening Palo Santo in 2006, Chef Gautier worked at the famed Vong in New York, Azie in San Franciso, and as a wine maker’s assistant in Mendoza, Argentina.  After recently spending time in Argentina and Chile myself, I felt like I was right back in South America upon entering this restaurant and with my first taste of the food.

Palo Santo is a beautifully lit and charming restaurant located in an exposed brick townhouse on a quaint tree-lined street in Park Slope, Brooklyn.  Its craftsman decor begins from the outside entrance with the spiral-patterned brick floor and the intricate floral wrought iron rails, which is duplicated in the restaurant’s own bicycle rack against the tree out front.  The roof of the building houses a small urban farm of vegetables, and there are also fresh herbs growing in the small back garden where guests can dine on warm(er) days.

Palo santo, meaning “holy stick” in Spanish, refers to an evergreen that is native to South America and the Caribbean that had been used for centuries by the Incas and indigenous people of the Andes as incense and a spiritual remedy for purifying and cleansing.  The tree is called lignum vitae, Latin for “tree of life,” which also references the wood’s medicinal uses.  Most of the decor is made of reclaimed materials and I particularly loved the unique table tops that had patterns made with various pebble, leaves, and coins under glass.  Cheery art installations by local artists adorn the walls, green leafy plants reach to the skylights, and all it is unified with a central wood motif.

The food was delightfully fresh and simply delicious, and the menus change daily.  All ingredients are of the highest quality and produce is locally sourced (some even as local as their rooftop garden).  The ambiance was laid-back and the service was pleasant.  Best of all, the prices were quite economically friendly.  Brunch was merely $16 for an entrée, tea/coffee, and a mimosa/sangria/juice option… with each additional brunch cocktail costing just $1!  I would definitely come back for brunch or try the dinner menu some day.

For another Latin American boozy brunch recommendation, try Yerba Buena Perry in Manhattan.

BRUNCH
Brunch Fixe Prix $16 includes one Brunch item and two drinks: coffee or tea ~ and ~ mimosa, sangria, or fresh-squeezed juice.
Each additional mimosa or sangria is $1 (seriously… just one dollar!!)

Cornbread
This was our starter bread that tasted like some amazing combination of cornbread, yellow cake mix and jam

Farmer’s Egg Sandwich with bacon, cheddar, aioli
Yum greasy egg sandwich with crispy bacon, smooth cheddar and spicy aioli makes a great brunch dish!  I particularly loved the light and fluffy texture of the potato hash it came with.

Omelette del dia

Huevos Bañados with poached eggs, chile hollandaise, grilled bread, beans, avocado
Amazing combination of flavors — especially the chile hollandaise — and the thick slices of buttery grilled bread didn’t hurt either. 

SIDES

Avocado with red onions, chili peppers and salt
This reminded me of Ensalada Chileana, although sans the tomatoes.  These avocados were from Mexico (I had to ask) and oh my goodness they were creamy and fantastic.  I just love simple dishes that are all about the freshness of the ingredients.

Crack Corn
These corn kernels were roasted and baked with cheese and sofrito, which is combination of slow cooked, aromatic ingredients (usually garlic, onions, peppers, tomatoes and other spices) that serves as a base in many Latin dishes.  The texture was a lot chewier than I was expecting and I personally was not a big fan of this side. 

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