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Palena


tjaehnigen
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Tonight was my first time at Palena.  Service was friendly and professional.

My friend and I split the fry plate.  It was a great experience and thanks to y'all for starting this thread - it was the reason I went!  :smile:

That should've been me!! Waaaah :sad: Great review, Gastro888! Maybe next time, yes?

Yetty CintaS

I am spaghetttti

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  • 2 weeks later...

We had yet another great dinner at Palena Café the other night.

Fluke marinated with grapefruit flesh and celeries, curry flavor, Duxbury pearl oysters and radish. A ceviche-like dish. The sharp, fresh flavors of grapefruit and celery complement the relatively mild, sweet flavor of the fluke and the escape-to-the-ocean taste of the oysters, followed by a little kick from the curry. The celery, our server explained, is in two forms in this dish, as a stock and in thin slices.

Raviolini with sheep’s milk ricotta and herbs, porcini mushrooms, glazed sunchokes, Gaeta olives and sautéed spinach with Roman inspired sauce of pinenuts and raisins. This is one of the few dishes that has lured me, temporarily, away from the gnocchi.

And, of course, the chicken. :wub: Better than ever.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Mmmmmm.....donuts.

For all of you pining for those beloved donuts from Palena, good news. Palena Cafe has started serving lunch on Saturdays, and the menu features - drumroll please - Chef Frank Ruta's much-in-demand donuts. They are served two to an order, one glazed and one sugar, and are accompanied by a pot of sublime dark, rich, European hot chocolate.

But first, lunch.

We ordered two dishes and shared. First, Artichoke and Fontina Paninni, fontina cheese and artichokes on semolina bread with olives, fried artichokes and lemon. The sharp, pungent melted cheese oozes over and around the tender, warm, lemony artichokes, all of it tucked in between two slices of perfectly grilled bread. (I admit I don't know from paninni, but I'd be willing to bet this is what paninni is meant to be.) On the side are olives and delicate, crisp fried artichokes.

We also had Buckwheat Blini with poached organic hen egg with green sauces – with grilled pork cutlet optional. The poached egg sits atop the relatively large blini, around which the green sauce is drizzled. Each bite combines the creamy yolk, melt-in-your-mouth blini and the delectable green sauce, which involves anchovies, capers, herbs, and olive oil. To the side is the delicious pork cutlet, served with a scattering of mushrooms and a bit of sage butter.

Desserts choices at lunch, all of which are made by Chef Ruta, include the Donuts with hot chocolate; Fudge Brownies with vanilla ice cream, bananas and hot fudge; and a Crespelle di Ricotta, crepes filled with ricotta cheese, with orange segments marinated in liquors.

Excellent service, as usual. :wub:

By the way, the lunch menu also includes several favorites – the cheeseburger, the hot dog, the fries. Here are the menu descriptions of several other dishes offered this past Saturday: BLT – Palena’s Way, arugula and our own bacon grilled on house baked sourdough bread, with an arugula salad and tomato condiment; House Smoked Salmon with a salad of leeks and almonds and potato frittata; and Stuffed Breast of Virginia Raised Lamb with piquillo pepper bread sauce and grilled treviso.

Did I mention the donuts? :cool:

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Are you sure they weren't Ann Amernick's doughnuts?  Just wondering.

I wish I had known about this sooner - my parents were in town and we had trouble picking a spot for lunch on Saturday!

If I remember correctly those donuts were made at Palena.

Wearing jeans to the best restaurants in town.
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Here's the information on the doughnuts' pedigree from Tom Sietsema's Fall 2002 Dining Guide :smile: :

"Doughnuts: Based on a White House recipe for rolls, the high, tender, yeasty and butter-rich doughnuts baked by chef Frank Ruta of Palena and sold at the Amernick bakery..."

(obviously no longer sold at the now closed Amernick bakery)

<Sweet! That's probably my best chance to get over there. Was it really busy at lunch?>

While we were there, I'd say business was steady, but not too busy. Of course, it was their first day serving lunch - I would imagine as word gets around, they'll probably draw quite a crowd, especially judging by the number of people walking by who did double takes as they noticed people eating in Palena at lunchtime. :rolleyes:

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Here's the information on the doughnuts' pedigree from Tom Sietsema's Fall 2002 Dining Guide  :smile: :

"Doughnuts: Based on a White House recipe for rolls, the high, tender, yeasty and butter-rich doughnuts baked by chef Frank Ruta of Palena and sold at the Amernick bakery..."

(obviously no longer sold at the now closed Amernick bakery)

<Sweet! That's probably my best chance to get over there. Was it really busy at lunch?>

While we were there, I'd say business was steady, but not too busy. Of course, it was their first day serving lunch  - I would imagine as word gets around, they'll probably draw quite a crowd, especially judging by the number of people walking by who did double takes as they noticed people eating in Palena at lunchtime.  :rolleyes:

So they have a separate lunch menu with some of the Cafe items? I guess I know whre I will be this coming weekend! :biggrin:

Wearing jeans to the best restaurants in town.
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<So they have a separate lunch menu with some of the Cafe items?>

Exactly. They have a separate lunch menu that includes several of the 'regular' Cafe dishes, such as cheeseburger, hot dog, cafe salad. They also said they plan to offer at least one paninni each week, as well as a dish that includes eggs. They will also have several other offerings, such as the BLT, stuffed breast of lamb and and the smoked salmon with potato frittata that I mentioned. I don't know how often the lunch menu will change. The hours for lunch are 11:30 am to 2:30 pm on Saturdays, by the way, and it is served only in the cafe, not in the main restaurant. (The restaurant and the cafe are both still closed on Sundays.)

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sheesh. and i thought i was a big palena fan. i'm new to this forum...glad to know my all-time favorite place (on all counts) has such a loyal following. i get there almost once a week (frequently solo), and always hate for the evening to end.

the service has always, always, always been excellent (since my very first visit, i think in september 2001) and the food...well, you all know about that. the staff really seems to have come together over the last 6 months or so. it's true they're all young, but they carry themselves very professionally. and, if ever there's been a glitch (there has been, once or twice), kelli has been quick to respond, also very professionally and responsibly. i've tried, but can't find another place in town i'd rather go.

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Lunch at Palena--a perfect Saturday afternoon--what more can you ask for????

It was love at first menu sighting. We ignored the usual suspects and concentrated on the lunch items.

I had the artichoke and fontina panini (sp?) and Mr. BLB had the buckwheat blini with the poached quail egg. There was lots of muttering about this is how eggs should be cooked (my egg cooking skills are quite lacking...) and he was quite content. I was very happy with the panini, although I thought the artichoke was a bit overwhelming.

Doughnuts...yum. Hot chocolate...yummier.

The crepes were nice but I'm not a big a crepes person.

A very nice way to spend the early afternoon on Saturday.

It wasn't too busy when we got there but by 1:30 it was pretty hopping.

Jennifer

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  • 2 weeks later...

About that Saturday lunch at Palena...

Waves of sunlight streaming through the windows give the cafe room a cheerful sunny morning feel that has a way of making you feel downright wholesome even as you're straddling the bar stool discussing the night before (i.e. St. Patrick). Of all the weekend lunch joints in this town, last Saturday I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

Jeff is as dreamy and obliging at lunchtime as he is in the evening. A mimosa-like concoction he engineered for us was a perfect start of the afternoon.

Lobster bisque with mussels, shrimp, spinach flan and rice. Loved the texture and substance of the soup, love the fact that it didn't have this uninterrupted boring creaminess that's usually a turnoff for me (in bisques). Warm and homey.

Buckwheat blini with poached egg and chanterelles. More warm homeyness, woodsy mushrooms, an egg that's just runny enough. The blini is not what I thought it would be, it's more like a buckwheat doughnut with no hole in it (rather than the crepe-like business.) But very satisfying regardless.

Hot chocolate with toasted flakes of bitter cocoa (right?) and actual real doughnuts, a fitting end to a meal that fit like the most comfortable shoe. (Darling bright turquoise suede Diesel sneakers with red piping. If you must know.)

The fact that not a single visit to Palena goes without running into one or more restaurant type is the greatest recommendation for the place. Food that delights most cooks, dreamy Jeff, and a warm welcome every time I come. The fact that I chose to come there twice in one week after a long stretch in a culinary wasteland (despite many, many choices) is an even greater recommendation :)

Edited by Nadya (log)

Resident Twizzlebum

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Scott and I had a delightful meal at Palena with the Busboys tonight. Special mention to our server Nathan, who handled our rowdy table with aplomb. We all shared the cafe salad, pate, Palena fries, minestrone, the sole with sea urchin sauce from the regular menu, and a large cheese plate. Charles, Scott and I had a glass of Macon before dinner, then split a bottle of Spanish grenache. Mrs Busboy had the ibitini (sp?), then a Gewurtztraminer, and a delicious espresso martini to finish. Finished with the cookie plate. Mm-hm.

Edited by hjshorter (log)

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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Dinner at Palena on Friday night:

An exquisite experience. Sublime, flawless preparations--some of the best cooking I have ever had, anywhere. Perfect service.

Now I know why Frank is the man.

Profound admiration for the work done at Palena. Profuse thanks to all at Palena for an ideal night out.

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And I will agree with Nadya with regard to the minestrone soup with fennel and sausage. Possibly one of the best bowls of soup I have ever had. The stock was rich and flavorful, the vegatables a perfect consistency and the sausage an excellent accompaniement.

And the potato gnocchi with ragout, excellent as well. The gnocchi arer light and fluffy and melt in your mouth, they need no chewing. The ragout was so good that both laniloa and I used the bread to mop up any that remained in the bowl.

And the lime tartlet for desert, tart and creamy in a nice crust with some preserved lime peel on the top.

Man, dinner at the bar at Palena doesn't suck.

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Definitely, definitely the minestrone. Who knows how much longer it will be on the menu! Get it while you can.

The gnocchi is always good. Presently the dish is offered with a Tuscan meat ragu comprised of duck and rabbit and...something else. Jeff told me, but it was post- at least one Sidecar.

The burger is a classic. So are all of the items on the fry plate. When I was in on Tuesday, there was a new penne dish on the cafe menu with lamb meatballs (I was very tempted, but stuck with the burger this time around).

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