|Address||3529 Connecticut Ave., Washington, DC 20008|
Maybe most over-rated restaurant in DC, a very over-rated restaurant town. Mouth feel of every dish was soggy. Flavors were excellent, to be fair. But the softness was ridiculous. Flavors not bold at all, but not nuanced either. Depth of finesse in kitchen on some fronts obvious, on others less so. Presentation nice. Kitchen and clientele pretty pretentious. Can not in good conscience recommend. If you're looking for a good meal and are willing to spend this kind of money, try Bastille in Alexandria and enjoy a more relaxed setting. Bottom line: Palena is for the wanna-be-like NYC dining set, and falls way short.
I think my dining companion put it well: Palena is refined, interesting, and lacking silly pretension. We went for my birthday and I found the experience up to par. The menu in the main dining room is fixed price - starting at $57 for three courses. Currently you have four options of dishes for each course (more options for dessert, which you do not want to pass on!). Portion size-even for main dishes-are quite moderate, so polishing off four of them is a lot easier than you might think. It's an obviously popular choice for special occasions - the couple next to us were celebrating an anniversary and there was another birthday two tables over, but I imagine the busy dining room simply reflects the fact that it is very, very good.
NOT worth the price. The service was horrible. I was tempted to get up and serve myself water and bread. The back room was steaming hot...we asked many times for them to turn the air on...finally a member of my group did it herself. I so wanted Palena to be as good as an Obelisk, but it was not even close. I will never be back.
I enjoy good food, I really do. But more than that, I require good service. We were ignored starting as soon as we sat down and ended the meal after waiting almost 10 minutes for the check. Seated in the middle of their small dining room, we couldn't help feeling on display and never got quite comfortable, while we watched ever other table settle in to comfortable banquette seating. The food was fantastic, but not worth all the wait. First and last visit. I'd rather blow $175 on 3 less expensive meals with service where they actually care.
Palena is hands down the best restaurant in DC and among the best in the US. The cooking is world class-bar none the best in DC. No gimmicks here just great execuction and ingredients. The summer salad sounded like a boring option but it rocked with a pig's ear croquete, coddeled egg and a big hit of truffle-awesome. Slightly mushy tomatoes in the tomato salad were more than over compensated for by an unbelievably rich tomato gelee- it's been two weeks and I am still in awe of it. I have never had a meat more perfectly cooked than the breast of pigeon at Palena. The gallantine of chicken and rabbit were also mind blowing. If you want great food go to Palena.
Palena is the best restaurant in the city, and easily one of the best restaurants in the country. Thank you Frank Ruta and Ann Amernick for opening it.
Palena came highly recommended, but it definitely lives up to the hype. The atmosphere was sophisticated, but not stuffy or pretentious. Our server was very knowledgable and responsive. Everyone in our party thought that their dish was the best. Many of the items were homemade-from the salami in the antipasto salad to the caramels for dessert. I particularly enjoyed the melt-in-your-mouth gnocchi with pancetta and the Napoleon puff pasty- a three-tiered skyscraper of flavor. Big ups to the nice waiter who hailed a taxi for my mom!
Really a wonderful experience. The food was fantastic, and the service great. As it was my wife and mine anniversary I had prearranged with the manager to play the song we first danced to over their system. Did it without questioning. We'll certainly be back.
Palena has two sections: the front bar for casual dining and the more formal back room. We have eaten many meals in both areas and have found the quality of the food to be excellent. The service is always solid even though the kitchen can get backed up if too many people order Frank Ruta's special roast chicken. On my last visit, I had squab and it was spectacular. For dessert, think Napoleon and you will get something very different from the goo that is served in most places.
We went for dessert close to 11:00. The Kitchen closes at 10:30, I believe, which most or all of the Kitchens do in CP. However, we were accommodated and seated at the bar immediately.
The desserts were light, not too rich, and the ingredients were incredible. Each portion was good. We ordered the 2 chocolate desserts - one was a chocolate toffee and the other was a 3-layer chocolate delight (not sure of their names) - and a coffee.
The coffee was also great. We were concerned that it might be stale as it was closing time, but it was fresh.
Perhaps the price could have been better. Their Overall Rating is high as this is just based on dessert experience and we would definitely go back again for more dessert. Palena should capitalize on the early Kitchen closings by staying open for dessert and coffee on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday until midnight or at least Friday and Saturday nights. Send home most of the staff and close the back room. CP really needs a dessert place or similar open past 10:30.
Excellent prix fixe menu, staff was attentive and knowledgeable. Portions are appropriately small, food was lovely and the desserts, well they are amazing.
Palena has the most sumptuous seasonal food in all of DC. All of it creative and delicious, and I would even say heady. The service is friendly, but not chummy. The decor is lovely. This was our third time there, and would go there again at the drop of a hat. For an expensive, fancy meal, this restaurant has knocked all the other restaurants off our radar. Also, they are very nice about bringing your own wine.