Bonjour Bouche Bistro!

Chef Charles Dale

By Kimberley Lovato

It’s Santa Fe, New Mexico and what you’d expect to find is a lot of delicious Mexican and Southwester cuisine. You wouldn’t be wrong. I’ve eaten my way through several of the town’s best, and in the spirit of full disclosure let me just say— I could eat enchiladas smothered in red and green chili sauce everyday and be perfectly happy. But sometimes a girl craves a little French. At least this girl does.

Bonjour Bouche Bistro!

Chef Charles Dale was born in France to American parents, and opened Bouche Bistro in February 2013 in an effort to bring a taste of France, and something different, to locals and visitors.

“Bouche is unique to Santa Fe, in that it epitomizes the new generation of bistros one finds in Paris: moderately priced, traditionally small, lively and serving contemporary versions of classics,” said Dale.

With a décor reminiscent of a neighborhood Parisian hangout, Bouche emphasizes light-hearted cuisine with a menu focused on small-plated dishes, seasonal salads and freshly prepared entrees like sautéed fresh foie gras (preparation changes nightly), tuna carpaccio Niçoise with wild arugula in a lemon vinaigrette, and an olive oil poached sole, and a nod to the Santa Fe surroundings—black mussels in white wine and red chili lemon mousseline.

After working alongside some of the world’s best chefs (Daniel Boulud, Barry Wine, Jean-Paul Lacombe and Georges Mazraff), Dale opened his first restaurant, Renaissance, in Aspen, Colorado in 1988, which quickly became one of Aspen’s most luxurious and refined restaurant, garnering major culinary and wine awards including Food and Wine Magazine’s “Best New Chef in America” in 1995; the James Beard Foundation nomination for “Best Chef, Southwest” in 1998 and 1999; Wine Spectator’s Best of Award of Excellence, and a host of other national and international recognition.

After serving as Executive Chef at Terra restaurant, at what is now Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado, for nearly five years, Dale was ready to bring his vision of a classic French bistro to downtown Santa Fe.

“I honestly had no idea whether or not Santa Feans would embrace my version of French bistro cuisine, which is lighter and healthier than what one normally expects from the genre. So to put it the most succinctly, I simply decided to cook the food I most like to eat,” said Dale.

Given a recently bestowed (and rare)  “four chiles” nod from the Santa Fe New Mexican, I’d say Dale has spiced things up a bit around town.

The Foodie Five

1. What is your favorite food memory from childhood?

Making ravioli in our tiny Monaco kitchen. They are on the Bouche menu now.

2. You’re moving to a new kitchen in 5 minutes and can only take one gadget along with you. What do you grab and why?

My Vitamix high-speed blender because it is portable and is essential to making silky soups without cream, and emulsifying vinaigrettes and sauces.

3. No one’s looking. What is your secret food fetish? 

Canned corned beef hash

4. If someone were to visit my current town of Santa Fe , I would recommend they try_______________.

Taberna—a new, casual tapas restaurant

5. Congratulations, you have carte blanche to dine in any city or country in the world! Where would you go and why?

I would go back to Sydney, Australia, where there is a plethora of deliciously inventive food, and some of the best Asian cuisine in the world!

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Kimberley Lovato is a Lowell Thomas Award winning writer whose travel and food articles have appeared in national and international magazines. She prefers to discover the city, and the world, one bite or sip at a time. Read more Foodie 5 posts on her blog and