DCFoodies.com Palena - Epiphanies can be Motherf**kers - DCFoodies.com

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Apr 14, 2006



My husband and I have been saying that we have to go to Palena (actually we mentioned that just today), and it sounds like its worth it for the desserts!

But, Jason, what I really want to know about is that cheese steak in your recent photos. Where is South Street Steaks?


SSS is in College Park.

I left DC

Just a word to the wise: avoid the main dining room at Palena. We had depressingly mediocre food for quite a lot of money, along with some of the most aggressively bizarre and unpleasant service in memory. Sounds like the bar is good, though.


I would agree about skipping the dining room and going to the bar. I recently ate in the main dining room after hearing all the rave reviews, and was severely disappointed. The food was lacking in creativity in presentation and flavor, and the service was dreadful. However, the bar area is fantastic, especially for the price. I think the overwhelming positive review for Palena are based on the bar section, and not the dining room. At least, I hope so, because if not, the reviewers should be shot.


I think it's pretty clear that this review is about the bar section, but if not, then now you know.


2nd visit - food so good. got sick the next day both times. a few months ago we ate in the dining room, had a lovely friday evening meal with fantastic service. the next day, we were both very, very sick. we just chalked it up to not having luxurious meals very often (though we eat out all the time - varying pricepoints). last night my boyfriend was in the mood for a cheeseburger, so i suggested we give the cafe a chance. LOVED my food - the lamb rigatoni, was great! this morning....my tummy such great shape. not sure what's happening, but i think i'll have to steer clear!


Definitely not food poisoning if it's not happening until the next day. Look into some digestive aids or just lay off the wine a little. :) The food at Palena can be a bit rich sometimes and taxing on the digestive system.


Just went this past wkd and got the the current squab offering...delicious. It was so tender, barely any fat, and dressed in a very flavorful curry spiced sauce. Try it b/f it's off the menu.


thanks, jason. i did have wine. i will heed your advice. because the food was SO TASTY!!!


Food and service (and price!)in main dining room disappointing, to echo "I left DC" and DU above. My wife and I went about a year ago for our anniversary. Palena had come highly recommended from a fellow foodie. truthfully I share the blame because I ordered a bit too adventurously. got the three course fixed price. mistake-way too much food. (i'd had the two course at Black Salt a few months before and it wasn't enough so...) first course chestnut seafood soup was a meal in itself - huge, and too rich actually but I finished it. mistake. I don't like chestnuts so who knows why i ordered it. but as part of a three course meal it should have been half the size or less because, if you're like me you're either going to finish it or have a confrontation with the waiter about boxing it up (and that's what it would have been with this waiter plus i feel foolish asking to box soup), because it IS loaded with amzing chunks of fish and I am paying ALOT for it.

Second course was salt cod (sensing a theme here?). i tried the sauce and it was incredible.. a little salty but ok, i get it, SALT cod, ocean. unfortunatley the cod itself was saltier. unbearably salty. but i ate over half of it. mistake. should have sent it back. did they forget to soak the cod to leech out the salt?

final course, sable. now, i love smoked sable. when it's good it is sublime. so i figured i would like unsmoked sable. mistake. i don't, at least the piece they gave me. it comes out and it's this disk of fish 2.5 inches in diameter and 2 iches tall. it looked like the section just before the tailfin (does anyone know more about sable?) The flavor was kinda dirty. If they were trying for something it was lost on me.

Service was, yes, agressive and annoying. there were a few things that were divine... my wife had some soup and some ravioli(?) that were amazing ( not sure, it was a year ago) and the salt cod dish would have been great with less salt in the cod. But I was jealous of the folks eating burgers i saw on the way out. I had a stomache ache that lasted until the next day.

As I said, mea culpa in large part, but there were mistakes on Palena's part and the service was unpleasant. I may try eating in the bar someday.

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