Galisteo Bistro — a neighborhood dining place

Sometimes you want dinner at a welcoming place a bit like Cheers, where if everyone doesn’t know your name, at least they know your face and give you a hearty welcome. If in addition, you want tasteful décor, artfully plated, locally-grown food and a chef who’s passionate about cooking, that quest becomes more challenging. Thankfully, Santa Fe has quite a few dining spots that fit this niche. Galisteo Bistro is one.

Chef Keller, photo Steve Collins

Chef Tomas Allan Kelle in his open kitchen, photo Steve Collins

Opened in 2009, by former opera singer/Chef Robert Pickering and his wife Marge (the pastry chef), the eatery developed a strong, local following. This year, the Pickerings decided it was time to leave Santa Fe and do something new. They wanted the right person to buy their beloved restaurant; Brant Keller showed up. The former Floridian, who has a strong business background wanted a venue where his young step-son. Tomas Allan Keller (known as Allan) could flex his culinary muscles. It was a match made in food heaven.

The Kellers have retained some of the bistro’s popular menu items, but are adding their own touches such as fresh seafood reflecting their Florida roots. Sustainability is more than a buzz word here. Fresh seafood, certified as sustainably fished, is flown in overnight from their former home state and they are sourcing meat from free-range, chemical-free animals, many raised locally. The menu notes “Our produce is sourced fresh and organic from local New Mexico farms.”

Galisteo Bistro Santa Fe photo Steve Collins

The crispy fried eggplant, photo/Steve Collins

We went to dinner on a warm summer evening. The soothing interior with its soft terra cotta walls hung with tasteful art, welcomed us.  The restaurant has an open kitchen and you can watch the chefs at work. Perusing the menu a bit before ordering, we were wondering aloud what to order. The couple at the next table, long-time regulars said I had to try the signature braised lamb shanks. I love lamb but usually think of that as a winter dish. The raves from the next table convinced me I had to try it. We started chatting with our neighbors, who split their time between Denver and Santa Fe. Thought Galsiteo Bistro regulars, this was their first visit since the Pickerings left. They had cleaned their plates and raved about the food.

Galisteo Bistro Santa Fe photo Steve Collins

Scallop ceviche topped with giant fresh capers, photo/Steve Collins

Steve began with the perfectly fried, crispy organic eggplant with Spanish tomato jam and Parmesan cheese. The paper-thin slices of flash-fried eggplant were perfectly crisp and delicious. The tomato jam was a perfect accompaniment, both tart and sweet. I had the scallop ceviche which tasted of the sea. Steve ordered the swordfish special and the perfectly cooked fish was fresh as promised.

Galisteo Bistro Santa Fe photo Steve Collins

The wild caught swordfish special, photo/Steve Collins

It was beautifully plated with risotto and summer vegetables. The lamb, made with a delicious maple BBQ sauce, is usually served with squash flan and sautéed vegetables. I had to pass on the silky flan as I’m not eating dairy at the moment, but they graciously substituted sautéed spinach along with the evening’s vegetable medley. The perfectly-cooked lamb fell off the bone.  The small wine list is accessibly priced (all bottles $31) offers a good selection by the glass (all $9). Interestingly, the more expensive wines are offered by the half-bottle only.

Galisteo Bistro Santa Fe photo Steve Collins

Lamb shank with mixed fresh garden vegetables, photo/Steve Collins

We were so full and so we skipped the house-made offerings on the decadent-sounding dessert menu which included the house special, Mud Pie.

Galisteo Bistro was almost full on this summer Thursday night and several tables seemed to be taken up by regulars. For Brant and Allan Keller, this is good news. We had a lovely evening; we’ll be back.

Author’s notes:
The menu has evolved since we dined there last summer. Many of the dishes we dined on are gone, but the menu is loaded with tempting sounding offerings.

We were guests of the Galisteo Bistro. We appreciate their generosity, Opinions are our own.

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2 Responses to “Galisteo Bistro — a neighborhood dining place”

  1. Agness
    September 6, 2019 at 3:44 am #

    The crispy fried eggplant looks so yummy and delicious. I hope I can eat it one day OMOMOMOMOM!

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