As an introduction to Pêche, the intimate, seasonal American eatery in downtown Palisade, let me tell you a story: Chef-owner Matthew Chasseur wanted to add house-made tortillas to his menu but had never before made what he considered a bona fide tortilla. The mother of one of his chefs is from Mexico, so he asked her to taste his attempt and share her feedback. “She tore them apart—then offered to come in and teach us how to properly make them,” Chasseur says. “She had me show her my technique and basically had us start all over from step one. Because of that lesson and her time and support…our team of five chefs now knows how to make authentic tortillas from scratch.”
It’s this commitment to the craft and continually learning that makes dining at Pêche such a delight. Chasseur opened the eatery in August 2019 with his wife, general manager, and co-owner Ashley Fees Chasseur. Their Western Slope restaurant is the epitome of fine dining—without a whiff of pretension. Wooden tables, wood-paneled walls, and comfortable banquet seating lend a homey vibe, while social distancing is enforced through simple floral arrangements on closed tables. In November, the restaurant added private, heated, outdoor “clubhouses,” too. Pêche’s menu is upscale but familiar, and dishes are plated with finesse. (The motto printed on every menu: “Relax + Unwind + Dine.”)
At its essence, Pêche (French for “peach”) is an homage to the surrounding landscape—home to the state’s best peaches and many of the Grand Valley’s top wineries. “We wanted to bring a restaurant to the valley that we would want to dine at. We wanted to take what was already here—delicious food—and create an experience with it,” Chasseur says. “Pêche as a name was our way to pay homage to something that the valley is doing well, which is growing delicious, simply indulgent peaches, which mirrors what we do.”
That mission will be on full display from your first bite. On my last visit, the flatbread appetizer (since rotated off the menu) was topped with grilled local peaches, greens, and Surryano ham, crispy-edged with a hint of welcome sweetness. The menu is a reflection of Chasseur’s versatile cooking background, which spans from the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park in London to Alinea in Chicago to, most recently, the High Lonesome Ranch in De Beque. In warmer months, gargouillou—a classic French dish reimagined by chef Michel Bras as a celebration of fresh vegetables—highlights the region’s bounty on a single plate. “It is the perfect representation of Palisade,” Chasseur says.
Simplicity also reigns in the roasted chicken, one of five entrées on Pêche’s hyper-seasonal menu. Stacked into a tower atop an onion soubise sauce, the fowl has minimal accompaniments (carrots, herbs) and is perfectly suited to cool nights.
Many dishes feature—and are often conceived around—the fruits of area farmers’ labor, including veggies from Blaine’s Tomatoes & Farm, herbs and florals from Sweet Pea’s Garden, peaches from Distefano Orchards, and dairy items from Ghost Rock Farm: Tess, one of Ghost Rock’s owners, is also the host at Pêche.
The craft cocktails, conceived by head bartender Sean Dickman, are well-balanced and sometimes surprise with local produce and herbs, too. A perfect example: the cantaloupe and corn silk that lent beautiful color to the tequila-forward Daisy, my favorite drink on the list.
No matter what you order, save room for carbs: The sourdough side is crispy-chewy and served with Ghost Rock’s cultured butter; the small rounds are baked daily and available until they run out. Though the dessert menu has shifted to be more wintry (think pears and warming spices), I can’t stop thinking about the warm doughnut holes enjoyed there last summer, which were rolled in hibiscus sugar and paired with a tangy raspberry dipping sauce.
Those doughnuts have a story to tell, too: Chasseur grew up eating Dunkin’ Donuts and wanted to refine those sweet treat into something even more crave-worthy. Like most of Chasseur’s tales, this one also has a happy ending.
If you go: Pêche is open for limited, reservation-only dining; please call 970-464-4911 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book your table; 336 Main St., Palisade