Taking time to live life will only inspire the work you do – Charles Dale, owner, Bouche
A graduate of Princeton University, Charles Dale has worked with many of the best chefs in the United States and beyond. Talk about experience and talent – the list of his credentials and accomplishments take up a vast amount of time and space. The Cliff Notes of Charles Dale would read something like this: Chef/Owner/Creator of many award-winning restaurants including Rustique Bistro and Renaissance (known as Aspen’s most luxurious and refined), Terra at Encantado, a Four Seasons Resort in Santa Fe, and currently he is owner/chef of Bouche Bistro. The list of awards he has garnered include ever major culinary and wine award in America, such as Food and Wine’s “Best New Chef in America,” Wine Spectator’s “Best of” Award of Excellence, Esquire’s “Best New Restaurant in America” award for Rustique Bistro, the DiRoNa Award, the Mobil Four Star Award, and currently Bouche is the City Different’s only restaurant to hold a coveted 4-chile rating. Charles is the author of “The Chefs’ Guide to America’s Best Restaurants”, has launched a line of all-natural marinades and stocks under the St. Dalfour and Dale’s Kitchen labels, and has contributed recipes to more than a dozen cookbooks nationwide. Ok, you can breathe now…
Charles Dale’s repertoire as chef, restaurateur, author, and entrepreneur gives him keen insight into the inner working of the life of a restaurant, and Bouche, with the look and feel of a provencal French neighborhood bistro, may seem like a modest transition after his previous undertakings and amass of awards, but you will become aware of the magnitude of the vision through the attention to detail in every decision that has led to the meal set before you when you dine here. Bouche is defined by tradition and simplicity. The food is uncomplicated, well-prepared and flavorful. Chef Dale has coined this particular style as “modern rustic.” Onion soup, escargots, steak tartare, and steak with frites are done exceedingly well without overindulgence. You will find specials of sweetbreads, kidneys, tongue, things you hardly ever see in restaurants anymore. The small room at Bouche fills up quickly with those seeking duck confit, pan-seared halibut, short ribs pot-au-feu, macaroni au fromage, and crusty house-baked bread. This is a tactile experience. Dale believes that food should make you feel good. It should speak to your sense of comfort and home. Indeed, as you savor the first bite, the crowded dining room and bustling kitchen seem to fade away.
Why did Charles Dale decide to stay in Santa Fe and open a small, cozy bistro despite many offers elsewhere? It’s about balance. Now he’s focusing on creating a restaurant as a way of life, a place to cook, to greet friends, and a place he can dine with his family. It’s not all about achievement anymore. It’s about a sustainable quality of life. And Chef Dale puts his therapeutic money where his mouth is: He has his own organic garden at home which provides Bouche with herbs, tomatoes, squash blossoms, beans, beets, and carrots. The handpicked wine list compliments the menu and is priced to encourage the pour.
Chef Dale maintains a personable, attentive yet unintrusive staff at Bouche, but he is obviously the locomotive engine. From his location in the kitchen, he can see everything. The room is his instrument to which he pays careful attention, tuning flavors, lighting, and pairing to curate the quintessential evening meal. Dale works the floor with sincerity, describing ingredients and technique and taking compliments graciously – but it’s the food that takes the center stage. If you love the experience of beautiful French food in the kitchen of an excellent host, then Bouche will satisfy that longing. Alas, that will only make you want more.
Bouche Bistro, 451 W Alameda St.
Santa Fe, NM