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Todd Oct 19, 2001 01:45 PM

Planning to try it next week, and have heard good things--any experiences to report?

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  1. w
    Winnie RE: Todd Oct 19, 2001 02:42 PM

    I ate there a few months ago and was not impressed. For starters, the dining room is under a gym and there was an aerobics class going on during our dinner. The light fixtures shook occassionally and you could hear jumping above. The food was ok but I thought for what it was, it was overpriced. I'll be interested to hear your experience.

    1. m
      Marty L. RE: Todd Oct 19, 2001 03:19 PM

      Must disagree with Winnie, I'm afraid. Had one meal there, in February. Best meal I've had within 50 miles of D.C. The five-course prix fix (approx. $55) changes from day-to-day. I ordered it and loved it; but you'd undoubtedly have a different array. Others at the table had various items off the menu. Everything was a hit, IIRC, including (but not limited to) the various Ann Amernick breads, desserts, savories. Could be a one-night fluke, of course -- but all my friends who have eaten there concur (although I think there's a consensus that's it not quite up to the standards of the very best NY and LA Italian).

      It's a leisurely meal; don't go if you are in a rush. And, by all means, call ahead and ask to be seated in the back room. It's charming and even, some might say, romantic, if a tad eclectic.

      1. s
        Scott N. RE: Todd Oct 21, 2001 08:25 PM

        Palena is consistently superb, in my humble opinion. I'm sure if I had had Winnie's experience of aerobics on the ceiling, I would feel differently, but all was serene on both of my visits. The appetizers are extraordinary, particularly the beet and lobster salad and crisply-seared scallops. All in all, this place offers fuller, clearer, richer flavors than can be found anywhere else in the city right now. Very pleasant, competent, understated service. Only quibbles: 1) desserts are very good, but lack imagination; 2) the wine list is a bit odd and rather limited, though relatively fairly priced.

        1. j
          Jim Zurer RE: Todd Nov 3, 2001 09:02 AM

          I went there earlier this year and I must say I didn't fall in love with the place. We sat in the front room (a party of five) and I found the seating uncomfortable and the ambience somewhat precious.

          As I remember, the menu was odd; I didn't find it easy to construct a meal from the various menu sections. (As contrast, it is very hard for me to make a choice from the menu at Kinkead's, no matter how frequently I go there.) I thought prices high, especially the wine list.

          I haven't been back...but maybe it deserves another look.

          Jim Zurer
          Washington DC

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