Beaver Tail at Palo Santo (with a visit from D.O.H.)

June, 2011

Yo Gastronauts!

Welcome to the dog days of summer — come early. It’s hot as hell, the news is bad, and all we can reasonably hope for is a little shade and a cold beer.

No doubt you’re aware of the Arizona wildfires, the residual heat from which we are already feeling, and the debilitating droughts in central China, which are cramping our long-awaited shipments of Yangtze River monster eels. And then there’s the sad saga known to all as Weinergate. No doubt you’ve had enough with blurry pictures of bulges and infantile erection jokes. So have we. And we’re sick of you making fun of us, ladies: look, we’ve taken y’all for bull penis and dozens of Rocky Mountain oysters — we’ve heard the teasing. That’s why we’re turning the tables for this dinner. Yep, it’s beaver time.

No, really. What, you’ve never tasted beaver before? Never had a flapper crackling with a hot pickle? (Someone please sext that now.) Anyway, we’re serious. We’re headed back to our old friend Jacques’ amazing restaurant, Palo Santo, in Brooklyn for what can only be described as a Girls-and-Game-Gone-Wild summer bash. We’ve specially imported 15 lbs of beaver tail — and the special muscle underneath that’s an incredibly tender, lovely piece of meat (if you know what we mean). And Jacques will be banging out some incredible dishes for us. But wait, maybe beaver’s not your thing? No matter, we’ve got frog leg fricasee, elk steaks, rabbit terrine, and generous quantities of cold, strong beer to tide you over and help it all down.

Now, we doubt we even need to say how special this one is. I mean, this is some very fresh, young beaver — and a hot piece of tail. So, look sharp, bring your juvenile sense of humor, and RSVP fast. This one might get a little dirty.

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A BEAVER’S TALE (A Tale of Two Tails)

We just have to share this story.

So, on Tuesday night, sixty Gastronauts ventured out to Park Slope, heading for Palo Santo. As you can see the menu below, this month’s dinner is seriously off the beaten track. I mean, there’s all kinds of … umm… different stuff on the menu, particularly the Beaver Tail and Flapper Cracklings. And you won’t believe what happened next.

At about 7:30 most were already happily sitting in Palo Santo, sipping Sangria, cracking more jokes about the upcoming menu, when a young fellow with a pony tail walked in. As he approached the bar, he flashed a badge and muttered “Health Department.” Jacques, the chef and owner, laughed and said “Yeah, right. Funny, dude,” thinking a member of the Gastronauts was playing a practical joke. And I laughed, thinking I was witnessing a joke between Jacques and his good friend, the Pony Tail Guy. We all stood there for a moment, and then another, and as the awkwardness grew (why won’t he introduce me to his friend?), it finally sunk in. This was for real.

Jacques expression changed from amusement to surprise to a kind of frozen smile — more of a grimace, really — as he found himself in the unenviable position of having his restaurant inspected the night of serving some seriously — seriously! — OFF the menu items.

Did someone tip the Department off, (it is Park Slope after all…) or was the inspection just chance? Who knows? Most likely word about our Beaver Dinner had gotten out and someone had ratted (again, pause please) us out. A tattle tale had told about tonight’s Beaver Tail. (ba tum tum).

Jacques tended to the inspector with a mixture of patience (stall! stall!) and masked anxiety. A hush went through the restaurant, as I began spreading the word. The Gastronauts scrambled to take all the menus off the table, (god knows we didn’t want any questions about that night’s frontier fare). I went from table to table telling Beaver jokes and spreading the word. “The dinner’s on hold until the Health Department leaves” I explained. There were whispered rumblings: “How long do you think it’s going to take…?” “Is the dinner off?”  This was definitely a first for the Gastronauts. The crowd waited patiently… albeit growing ever more tipsy and hungry.

The inspection took about an hour — the polite and professional Pony Tail Guy went through the kitchen, bathrooms, the walk in freezer, cabinets, everything. Then he settled in at the bar and began typing into his laptop, while the guests tried to catch a glimpse of his screen and looked for signs of his departure.

Finally, Jacques was summoned by the inspector. We couldn’t discern what the discussion was about, but Pony Tail Guy produced what appeared to be some kind of a list. We witnessed some nodding, hand gesturing, and some serious and concerned looks. Nobody could tell how this was going to go. Then, the inspector reached into his bag and appeared to be looking through some files. We all knew what was happening. It was the moment of truth.

Finally, as the inspector packed his bag to leave, he handed Palo Santo its Health Department inspection grade: It was a big, bold “A.”

And with that, Pony Tail Guy left. Seconds after, the restaurant — at this point entirely populated by Gastronauts —  erupted in applause, as Jacques pasted the letter grade on his door, grinning from ear to ear.

Chef Jacques then returned to the kitchen and produced, in record time, one of the best meals the club has ever had. Everything, including the Beaver Tail was phenomenal.

True story.

PALO SANTO

652 Union Street
Brooklyn\, NY 11215-1103
(718) 636-6311


FOOD: , , ,

RESTAURANT: PALO SANTO