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Palo Santo: Any recent visitors?

  • famdoc Jan 23, 2007 08:18 AM

Our initial experience at Palo Santo was mixed, but occurred shortly after it opened. Always willing to give a restaurant a second chance, I wonder whether any other chowhounds have visited this Union St. restaurant recently.

My prior post:

http://www.chowhound.com/topics/34004...

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  1. I had the chef's tasting menu, and it was one of the most memorable dining experiences I've had in a long time. I sent my husband there with a Haitian friend of his, and they concurred. It was amazing.

    1. I totally agree about the tasting menu. Almost everything we had was delicious (I'd pass on the skewered chicken hearts the next time) and the chef was really nice.

      1. How much is the chef's tasting menu?

        1. I think it was $45 a person? I might be wrong on that, but it's somewhere around there. That did not include wine parings.

          1 Reply
          1. re: sweetpea23

            I've been to Palo Santo twice and was impressed both times. It's really rare to find such quality food and service at their prices.

            The first time I ate there, I had the tasting menu. Delicious.
            Not only did everyone in the restaurant go out of their way to accomodate us, but the whole experience was so intimate -- I felt as though I was having dinner at a close friend's house. As my boyfriend and I sat at the bar and watched the chef prepare our food, he described each dish and then slid it across the bar to us. Everything, from the scallop ceviche to the roasted duck, was fantastic.
            The tasting menu is $45, and we were fed until we thought we'd explode (it's so good, though, you won't want it to end).

            My second meal was brunch -- three crispy chicken tacos with guacamole ($9). While waiting for a table (a baby shower had taken over the back room), I watched the cooks make corn tortillas from scratch and couldn't resist trying them. My boyfriend had the duck mole ($12), which was served with an enormous helping of buttery rice. We topped it off with a whole roasted plaintain ($3) and some sangria and left feeling very, very happy, as did 99% of the people there, judging from their faces.

          2. I have only eaten there once, but I'm dying to go back. I had a scallops special which was amazing and a plantain soup which was also very nice. My only complaint was that they were playing this really chintzy music. However, the food was great.

            3 Replies
            1. re: amusingbouche

              I agree, I highly enjoyed the tasting menu I had 3 weeks ago. I did the wine pairing and it was about 10 courses of food and wine for $75! You can't beat that price, I was very, very impressed. And I totally understand sitting at the bar while you get to watch your courses prepared in front of you. One of the more memorable meals I've had recently, and the staff were wonderful all around. Highly recommended.

              1. re: evoo

                This restaurant is fantastic! I've eaten there several times, had the tasting menu and wine pairings. The quail appetizer is a standout. The menu changes daily so there is always something new. I highly recommend taking advantage of DIB.

                1. re: sharonm

                  I'm visiting from Toronto this weekend and checked out this place on the recommendation of a friend - it was truly fantastic. We had the tasting menu with wine pairings while sitting at the counter, with the chef Jack coming over to explain each course and wine, despite the restaurant being packed. Highlights included clams in buttery "soppy rice," a delcious ceviche, and the most tender goat I've ever eaten, slow-braised in coconut milk. We also splurged on a foie gras addition, and basically ate and drank until we were at the point of bursting...for $75 (plus foie supplement). I think we had 11 courses - what a bargain.

                  We'll be hitting Momofuku Ssam tonight for the pork butt, and tomorrow night is Babbo, but the weekend could not have gotten off to a better start than it did in this tiny neighbourhood joint near the Gowanus Canal. I'll be back.

            2. Went the other night for the first time. We will definitely be back. The pork chop was thick, juicy and flavorful (maybe a tad rarer tham my pref). Chayote and jicama salad was simple and perfect with just the right amount of tang to the dressing, Green gazpacho creamy and nice, and sea bass perfectly done.

              Service was great, despite a "Park Slope cliche" moment in which a couple allowed a toddler to run wild, banging his matchbox car on the table and shouting, totally ruining the vibe in the beautiful back room. it went on for about five minutes and the understanding staff re-seated us. And another unfortunate couple.

              Very disappointing to lose the atmosphere of the back room due to clueless patrons. Please folks, control your kids or take them to Katina's.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Cackboy

                I had a great dinner on Saturday night. 6 of us showed up with no reservations, got a table in about 15 minutes. Food was fantastic--I had grilled liver and hearts--deliciously spicy. For entree, spicy lamb stew--another winner. Everyone seemed happy with their choices as well.
                A great find.

                1. re: abu applesauce

                  It's been awhile since I posted this thread. Thanks for your reply. It's on my list of "go back and give it another try" restaurants.

                  1. re: famdoc

                    I heard that Palo Santo's not open for brunch anymore! Does anyone know if this is true?

                    1. re: bread for breakfast

                      They just reopened fro brunch with a new menu!

              2. Just tried Palo Santo with my SO last Sat. night. We loved it. Didn't do tasting menu as it requires 2.5 hours (and is now $50). Noticed that those who did do the tasting menu were waiting quite a bit between each course and kept staring at our meals. If you're hungry don't go for this option. We loved our wine -- waitress is very knowledgable -- and we ordered guacamole, prawns, a plaintain/beef dish and a mushroom casserole, all were very authentic with lots of flavor. Loved the dessert -- a blueberry crumble. I think everyone who lives in the slope should check this place out. It really does have a latin vibe that is omnipresent in its food and decor. Watched the chef Jacques cook every meal right in front of us at the open kitchen. If I could improve one thing, I would say that the waitstaff could be a little, um, looser. They are working hard in a very small space and its hard for them to be anything less than professional, but when I'm in an intimate space I really value the local service that Brooklyn is so well-known for.

                1 Reply
                1. re: sro798

                  Went for the first time Feb 15 and had the tasting menu ($50) with wine selections ($30). A terrific, fun experience. Highly recommended.

                2. We went Saturday. Didn't have reservations, but were able to get a seat about 30 minutes later (so we went across the street for Margaritas). Service was ridiculously slow. We ordered two chayote salads which were fantastic. Tortillas very small as previously noted. But our order of two additional apps - the ceviche and tuna - took nearly 45 minutes. It was like we had been forgotten. Wine was terrible. Mate gourds were overfilled with mate. Hostess was very accommodating and explained the ceviche and tuna were made by a separate chef who was slammed. Huh? The place was half empty by then. The hostess comped the second round of appetizers but the waitress did not apologize, did not say thanks for the generous tip we left her. If I were to do it again (and I won't), I wouldn't have left a tip. All that said, the food was very very good but because of the horrendous experience, I won't be visiting Palo Santo again for a very long time.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: panamakarl

                    regarding mate gourds, being Argentinian, I find most places in the states use way too much water and far too little mate. Are you contending they used too much mate, too much water or something else? I cannot quite understand from your description.

                    1. re: panamakarl

                      Oof. Sorry to hear that. I've been to Palo Santo a handful of times and yea, I've noticed that their service is ridiculously slow. It's possible that the place is too big for the kitchen to handle. Perhaps the cold dish cook ran out of his prep? I don't know. I remember it took them 20 minutes to bring me tortillas, so I feel you. I'm going back there this Friday at 8:30... prime time! :) I hope things have been kicked into fast forward since the last time we've been there. I'll report back.