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Palena


tjaehnigen
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<shudder>

No gin, but drank some of the most eunique drinks I've had in a while.

i'm majoring in palenatology.

and after youve recovered from laughing, a palenadrome (that will adorn the side of the official nascar, sponsored by the good folks at palena): sidecar - race 'dis.

Edited by frogprince (log)

there is no love sincerer than the love of food

- george bernard shaw

i feel like love is in the kitchen with a culinary eye, think she's making something special and i'm smart enough to try

- interpol

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i'm majoring in palenatology.

and after youve recovered from laughing, a palenadrome (that will adorn the side of the official nascar, sponsored by the good folks at palena): sidecar -  race 'dis.

Pale? Na, that cocktail is making me blush.

Edited by eunny jang (log)
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There's a reason Steve Klc doesn't have any vowels in his last name: he killed them all because they went off-topic.

Can we stay on-topic and leave the chat for the Semi-Spontaneous-Whatcha-Doin-Tonight thread?

Otherwise you're going to have a dead forum host.

Grimly,

Rocks.

[Edit - puns, clever writing, etc. are fine (and these were all pretty funny actually), but before you click on that "Submit Post" button, do at least read through your posting and make sure it would be informative to a newcomer visiting here for the first time (that's a pretty good benchmark, I think), and make sure it has something to do with the title of the thread. Thank you! DonRocks, Tsar. (unfortunately, however, I'm not Tsar and have to answer to higher powers here! Cheers!)]

Edited by DonRocks (log)
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My wife and I had our virginal (that's not too racy, is it?) experience in the front room at Palena last night. Or rather the nice little patio in front of the front room.

I am envious of all you people who seem to be able to hop in here on a regular basis. If this is your "neighborhood spot" you are lucky to be in the neighborhood you are in. (Especially this one. Is there a better block in town for good food?)

I can only echo the praises for the tomato soup, the gnocchi (Damn they're light and fulffy), the platter of fried things and Derrick, who came out of his way to introduce himself.

The burger was great (although a little salty) and no, DonRocks, I didn't think the bun was too big. If the bun sucked it would have been too big, but this was a nearly perfect grilled brioche bun. How could that be wrong?

They happened to have a cookie plate floating around in the back so I had some caramels and other little goodies nad the cashew merengue/nougat dessert was unusual and very good.

Good food and a beautful night. Just what I needed after this week.

Bill Russell

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The Burger, Rocks.

The bun should be about 14.7% smaller though.

Al, baby don't be one of those "glass half empty types" It's the burger that needs to be 15.7% larger.

Jarad C. Slipp, One third of ???

He was a sweet and tender hooligan and he swore that he'd never, never do it again. And of course he won't (not until the next time.) -Stephen Patrick Morrissey

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Al, baby don't be one of those "glass half empty types" It's the burger that needs to be 15.7% larger.

You're so right. Why should I ask for less?

The wine flowed like wine last night. I guess my brain is still a bit addled. :wacko:

peak performance is predicated on proper pan preparation...

-- A.B.

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Run do not walk to Palena Café for the Roman bread and tomato soup, which is topped with a coddled (or poached?) egg and fried sage. Dip your soup into the perfectly cooked egg, and the creamy yolk slowly spreads through the bowl, blending with the diced tomatoes, small chunks of bread, and rich broth.

I had this for dinner last night and loved it. The yolk melding with the broth gave it an incredibly rich texture. I was having a lousy day and this saved it.

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As we approach the end of the tomato season I wonder how long the soup will remain on the menu. It will be missed.

On the other hand, I can't wait to see what replaces it.

True Heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic.

It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost,

but the urge to serve others at whatever cost. -Arthur Ashe

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  • 2 weeks later...

As a birthday present, my better half took me to the café at Palena last night. It was my first time and after all the glowing words about the food and ambiance of the place, I was worried that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations. I had no need to worry. It was amazing.

We arrived a little before 8 and there was only one available seat at the bar and a few tables outside (but it was a little chilly). The woman who greeted us (Carolyn maybe?) conferred with Derek and told us that something would be available inside in 20 minutes, so we walked around the neighborhood for a bit and came back. Still no inside seats available. While we were waiting near the street – looking conspicuously inconspicuous - Derek approached us and told us to sit down on the patio and have some drinks while we wait. Great idea! Why didn’t we think of that? But a thank you to Derek for that small touch that made us feel welcome.

What can I say about the food that hasn’t already been said? We had – and shared – the fries, roast chicken and burger. Also, the corn raviolini has been replaced with ricotta-stuffed raviolini with chanterelle mushrooms and truffle oil. I can’t recall the exact description (food-related bliss has that effect on my memory), but it was divine. Elegant without being fussy. Plus, we soaked up the remaining truffle oil with the bread – yum!

Evan was a charming and gracious host and makes a mean sidecar. As a fellow Libra (he informed me that his birthday was Wednesday), I shouldn’t have expected any less. For dessert, we asked about the cookie plate (since it wasn’t on the menu). He said, sure, they have it and just as he was saying that, someone came out with a little complimentary cookie plate for my birthday. Totally unexpected and totally delicious and so very kind. It’s little touches like this that will draw me back again and again. I can’t wait for my return trip. And next time I will introduce myself, if only to give credit to everyone here for highlighting this gem and the cool people who work there.

mmmmm.......Palena chicken leftovers.

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radio, I checked with Evan this evening and his bday is in April so I think you might be referring to someone else. But Evan enjoyed his birthday greeting none the less.

I know, another raving post about Palena. This time however, I had the pleasure of dining in the back room. As much as I love the front cafe, it is a whole other gastronomic world back there.

It is times like this that I wish I was a better writer because I will not be able to do the meal justice. The fact that Evan never let my wine glass go empty will impede my descriptions as well.

Each of the three courses had four choices. Since there were four of us in my party we decided to order one of everything off the menu (in true eG style :wink: ).

We had everything from beet and lobster salad that melted in our mouths to the perfect cube of bacon to two of the best fish courses I have ever tasted. The crispy skin of the fish was the perfect balance to the delicate flesh. This is how fish is supposed to be served. Simple, allowing the flavor of the ocean and particular fish to shine through. Despite the fact that we could feel our arteries clogging with every bite of the bacon, the tripple bipas I will have in 30 years is well worth it. For tonight anyway.

My table must have been quite a site a number of times throughout the evening. With each course we would take a bite or two and then pass each plate around the table. Often we burst into fits of laughter because the flavors exploding in our mouths were unreal. If only I remember enough to go into further detail.

You should know that we literally licked our plates clean.

Which brings me to the cheese course. This was the best cheese plate I have ever encountered. A month ago this would not have meant much but recently I have been lucky enough to enjoy some of the best in the city. Palena's tonight was hands down the best.

I wish I could remember all of the names. There was a tripple milk cheese done in a chevre style with goat, sheep and cow's milk. Another from Italy is referred to as the poor man's cocaine. The third was a Tellegio that was sublime.

But the best was this tiny little dish of pure heaven. Derek or Carolyn will have to jump in and supply the name. It was creamy and rich and delicate and orgasmic all at the same time.

For a moment we joked that we should lick the bowl clean. And then one member of my party did. I could not allow him to enjoy such pleasure without me so I followed his lead. We were like kids with the brownie batter bowl, scraping up every last morsel. There was not a tiny drop left in the bowl.

We ended with a cappuccino and espresso. Every restaurant you walk into these days has there own rendition. These however, stood in a category all on their own. The foam on the cappuccino literally lasted more than 20 minutes and had to be eaten with a spoon. This is what they drink in Italy and reminded me that for the most part we drink crap in this country. It should be noted that they were created by a 17 year old high school senior.

A lot of us spend a lot of time up front for a good reason. The chicken is sublime and that fried plate is to die for. But just past those strange hidden booths just past the bar is a whole other world of gastronomic heaven that does not get enough attention around here.

Edited by hillvalley (log)

True Heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic.

It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost,

but the urge to serve others at whatever cost. -Arthur Ashe

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radio, I checked with Evan this evening and his bday is in April so I think you might be referring to someone else.  But Evan enjoyed his birthday greeting none the less.

Doh! :huh:

I feel silly now. That's what I get for trying to be Mr. Clever McSmartyPants.

In any event, the bartender who took care of us on Thursday was top notch. It's nice to see that excellent service can be contagious.

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Finally, after a couple of attempts stymied by lack of parking and major Federal holidays, I got to go to Palena and try the burger and fries. It was worth the wait, and it's just as well that I don't live or work any closer - those fried dauphinoise potato things are stunning, and I could quite happily eat them every day. Thanks to Derek for the spot-on recommendations and the fruity rum concoction.

"Tea and cake or death! Tea and cake or death! Little Red Cookbook! Little Red Cookbook!" --Eddie Izzard
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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Despite Derek's absence, and Evan's night off, we had a terrific experience yet again at Palena tonight. I highly recommend the Pensylvania broccoli raviolini with mussels and garlic-olive oil sauce especially, and the new spinach soup with nut-crusted Dover sole and a langoustine. Check out the white burgundy and the prosecco-pomegranate cocktail with this and you've got a great dinner on your hands. And the service at the bar hasn't slipped the tiniest notch.

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bah.

fey on the feckless Derek, already a faded memory with the fabulous Jeff grinning behind the bar. and fey on Frank and Evan, too, for the kitchen did just fine without 'em on Monday night: soft cushions of broccoli exploding on the tongue, with fat juicy mussels swimming in garlicky butter scooped up with chewy bread. and that spinach soup! and the cheese....we didn't lick the plate, technically, though it wasn't for lack of temptation from Carolyn's spread.

go. the joint was far too peaceful.

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We took my sister, visiting from San Diego, to Palena last night. It was our first time dining at the cafe. There were quite a few tables open when we arrived around 7:15, but it picked up thereafter, and there was a steady flow of people coming in until we rolled out of there a few hours later.

Upon recommendation, both Mr. Squids and my sister had the chicken, and I had the burger. We shared a salad, the fries and german chocolate cake. What an understatement, to say that this is the bargain of the city! And ohhhh so good. Our waiter, Jim, recommended the old vines zinfandel, which both my sister and I enjoyed. (sorry but that's all my feeble mind can remember)

Kelly was delightful. I spoke with her on the phone earlier in the day, and recalled that she must've been the one I spoke with about a year ago when we dined in the back for our Anniversary. We had been impressed with the service and food then, and are even more so, now. I'm looking forward to going back to be able to try out more of the menu...even though we shared dishes, we all felt like completely stuffed pigs...and happy ones at that!

(oink, oink)

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I had dinner in the main dining room for the first time last night with three friends and colleagues and, while the food was excellent, the service was frankly bad. Not awful, not legendary, but irritating enough that on the way home my friend lept out of the middle of a conversation to say "I just have to bitch one more time about the service tonight."

Courses took forever to come out; there's civilized pacing and there's "have they lost he order?" The waiter filled the wine glasses so full -- getting only four glasses out of the bottle -- that it was clear that he either did not know how to pour wine our was overpouring in an effort to peddle another bottle. It took three tries to get the red Burgundy open for a little breathing. Coffee came out with the cheese course. The waiter seemed to have no problem bursting into the middle of conversations to deliver whatever message he had that moment, but had the most amazing ability to avoid eye contact when I wanted to flag him down. The cheese course lecture was little short of condescending, though Palena is hardly the only restaurant to puff their chest out about the age and patrimony of their chevre. The check arrived with an alacrity that put the dawdling pace of the rest of the meal to shame -- and almost seemed like they were eager to see us go.

Very irksome, given that the food was excellent.

Edited by Busboy (log)

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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This is my first post, and I am hesitant to start out on a negative foot, but I am compelled to agree with Busboy. I have been dining at Palena for about 2 years, and I have consistently been overwhelmed by the incredible food and the warm, knowledgeable service I've come to expect there. However, though the food remains outstanding, I have noticed a steady decline in the standard of service in the past 4 or 5 months. For me, there hasn't been a specific instance of gross incompetence that highlighted this decline. Instead, I've just noticed an overall change in the tone of the restaurant and its staff. As I said, this is something I began noticing a few months ago, but I think it hit an apex with Derrek's departure. I don't go to Derrek (sp?) fan club meetings or anything, but I do think that he directed a certain tempo and tone of service that is now missing. I guess I have just found that the restaurant now seems to lack a sense of familiarity. When I look around during a meal there now, the only one I really seem to recognize is Kelly. I'm not saying that she isn't a fine ambassador for Frank, but she cannot maintain the standard alone. Again, the food remains above reproach, but when I dine at a restaurant, I do so for the enjoyment of the entire experience, not just the quality of the food. Somehow, this Palena isn't the same one that I once loved.

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I had dinner in the back room this past Saturday evening, and had attentive service as always. A friend of mine had invited me there to celebrate his son's 18th birthday. His son had ordered one less course than we had (i.e., there was going to be a gap during his meal while we had an extra course), but knowing that it was his birthday, the staff brought him out a complimentary plate to fill the downtime. It was entirely unexpected, and a wonderful gesture on their part.

Palena's staff tends to be young, and I believe they lack formal training as a whole, but between Kelli, Evan, Jeff, Carolyn and Roger (the people I've had direct interaction with), my experiences there have always been welcoming and efficient. In the interest of full disclosure, I'm a known entity at Palena and almost certainly receive extra attention, but all I can do is report my own experiences while encouraging others to do the same.

Forgetting Palena, I've found that the pacing of an extended meal can often be silently "customized" to diners' individual needs if the diners engage the server a bit in order to give the server a better feel for things, the earlier in the meal the better. I'm certain about one thing: in the vast majority of restaurants, the staff wants you to have a good time and enjoy your meal, and problems often result from the staff's lack of ability to "read" the table. There are very, very few restaurants in town where you can completely turn yourself over to the restaurant and walk away with perfect service - the talent pool here is simply spread too thin and there's a lack of proper training for the noble profession of being a server.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Courses took forever to come out; there's civilized pacing and there's "have they lost he order?"

I can`t say much about the rest but Chef Ruta`s style of cooking if not fast pace since he has those perfectly rested meats

Corduroy

General Manager

1122 Ninth Street, NW

Washington DC 20001

www.corduroydc.com

202 589 0699

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