Palo Santo, Finally
Palo Santo is easy to miss and that's just what I must have done for the first few weeks it was open. It's tucked away on the ground floor of a brownstone on Union Street so if you're not looking for the restaurant, you'll walk right past it. DMR and I tried to eat here with Mr. Glen and Jane on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, only to be faced with a closed gate. Closed for Thanksgiving weekend. A few weeks later, we walked over to Union and 5th before I decided I didn't want Latin for the second night in a row. And most recently, the restaurant was inexplicably closed on a weekday, erroneously leading me to believe the restaurant had shut down for good. Finally, right before the new year, we were able to try Palo Santo with the fresh from Mexico and newly engaged Skippy and Cortney.
The first thing I noticed after being seated: no noshes, no nibbles, no nothing. It was close to 9PM. I was pretty damn hungry and would have loved a little something.
Our appetizers. Since I was famished, I was too busy eating to remember to take a photo. Remnants of an incredibly tender pork belly on the left. I found the chicory salad topped with a poached egg on the right a little on the bland side.
Skippy shows off his asopado, which was chock full of mussels, lobster and other tasty sea creatures. The soupy rice was buttery and addictive and possibly the best thing I tried all night. In the foreground is a baked platano maduro that DMR ordered, which was presented whole and in the peel.
DMR's steak was fatty and gristly, the least impressive dish of the night.
My whole grilled trout sat atop a bed of thinly sliced radishes. A few wedges of purple potato accompanied. The fish came deboned and the flesh was quite tender, both which I greatly appreciated, but it could have used a little more seasoning (meaning salt).
Cortney got the rabbit in a mole sauce. It was a mammoth serving.
For dessert, we had only one option and that's what we ordered. It was a panna cotta, quivering atop a barely sweet, thin grapefruit sauce, actually more like a glaze or simple syrup and topped with supremes from the fruit. I thought the combination of citrus and cream was rather interesting. It was a fresh and light way to end the meal.
The restaurant is beautiful with a lot of rustic but warm touches. We were the only diners in the front room and greeted with a blast of cold air each time the door opened. Aside from the handful of tables in the front, there's also a bar you can sit at and order the $45 chef's tasting menu. Unfortunately, it's not publicized and I only learned of it post-meal. I guess it's one of those things you just have to know going in or stumble upon. I think our group would have been into that. There is also a back room to Palo Santo. It's where we had asked to be seated, but the hostess couldn't accomodate us. I'm not sure how many diners they can fit back there, but only two or three other parties passed by us to leave the restaurant.
Palso Santo also serves breakfast and brunch, which I've heard raves about and are very reasonably priced. It's at these meals where you can imagine yourself being a regular. Dinner may be a little tougher to do that at. Expect to shell out some clams.