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Aug 12, 2008 04:28 PM

Palena or Restaurant Eve

Some help...My husband and I are visiting DC at the end of this month and are celebrating our anniversary. We would like to indulge in a special dinner that will blow us away. I have reservations at both Restaurant Eve and Palena. I have to say, first impressions, the person taking the reservations at Restaurant Eve was very warm and accommodating. She asked if it was a special occasion and ended the conversation saying they looked forward to our visit. The woman at Palena was brusque. I was leaning towards RE as I so enjoyed the book the Omnivores Dilemma and Polyface supplies Restaurant Eve.... I then read some mixed reviews and thought I should check with the hounders.


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  1. I would go with Eve. I just had the tasting menu at Palena and it was very good - a couple courses were excellent - but I wasn't really "wowed" by the whole experience. On the other hand, I have always been "wowed" by the food at Eve: every dish I've had has been exceptional (well, I wasn't really a fan of the tripe but the sauce and accompaniments were delicious). Also, you have the best bartender in the dc area and can get some great cocktails before (or with) your dinner.

    7 Replies
    1. re: dcfoodie13

      I agree. While I really like Palena, I would go with Restaurant Eve for your anniversary. I celebrated my anniversary there last year with my bf and it was both romantic and delicious. They treated us very well. It was one of the most memorable meals I've ever had. Plus, before or after you can take a stroll around the streets of Old Town Alexandria, which can be very romantic.

      If you are interested in trying both restaurants though, you can stop by Palena and eat in their cafe, at the front of the restaurant. They serve the best gourmet burger in town (in my opinion), plus you can order off of the fancier back room menu if you want. They don't take reservations for the front of the restaurant, but I've never had much of a problem getting a table or a seat at the bar.

      1. re: Elyssa

        OK, I will buck the trend. Restaurant Eve is good, and at times, very good, even excellent. Granted, I have only been there once, but it was for a special occasion and we hit up the Tasting Room and did the whole nine yards. I think I enjoyed the 'extra' courses that we grazed on between the 'real' tasting menu courses more than the actual real courses themselves. Some of the things were lacking in real depth of flavor or creativity IMO. And I think I have a pretty broad experience in dining out, on the high end, the low end and in between. But your mileage may vary. I found the tables spaced too closely in Restaurant Eve, too. I am sure the cocktails are very good, but I am not really a big cocktails kind of guy. The service was very, very good though.

        Palena, in my opinion, is on another plane of existence. The food is the real star. Sure, there is no 'tasting menu'. The service may not be up to the level of RE (unless you are a regular, which I am (at Palena)). The space may not be as well-appointed as RE. But the food, the food, the food! Just as others have said they have enjoyed Palena and not been wowed by it but have been wowed by RE's offerings, I am basically the opposing view and feel the opposite. Palena is amazing and RE is very good, but not up to the level of Palena. Again, your mileage may vary.

        Another place you might also consider is Komi. I also prefer Komi over RE.

        1. re: Pool Boy

          I'll have to agree with Pool Boy. While I think the ambiance and locale of Eve is far better than Palena (Old Town is very nice and romantic) I think the food at Palena is a bit better. I think either are a good choice though. Eve's food is good, but on my last visit, nothing blew me away - it was all high quality and tasted great, but nothing was memorable a few months later (my yardstick). On the other hand, I still have dreams about some of the fish dishes I ate at Palena a few months back and still remember how delicious some of the broths and vegetables were on some of the entrees. I don't think you will go wrong with either choice.

          I also like Komi (superb food) and I really like Obelisk as another choice. I find Obelisk to be romantic because it is so small and I like the nice location in Dupont Circle.

          1. re: Adam23

            KOMI is a great suggestion...DELICIOUS food, lovely & relaxing atmosphere.

          2. re: Pool Boy

            I think Komi is going to be closed at the end of August, otherwise I would suggest it as well. I haven't been to Palena but I was just at Restaurant Eve for their 5 course tasting menu. Overall, it is very good. My minor complaint is about the supplement charges for certain dishes (in this case, $10 extra for the foie gras and $10 extra for lobster). We had foie gras in brioche and boudin noir as our first courses. You can't go wrong with the foie gras but the boudin noir is a real winner. Supposedly the chef grew up eating boudin noir for breakfast. I followed with two earth dishes, pork belly and tripe parmesean (think veal paremesean but made with tripe). I thought the tripe concept was creative and very well executed, certainly worth trying for any tripe lover. My wife had two ocean dishes, a poached lobster and gnocchi. Unfortunately the lobster was bit overcooked. Not everything at Restaurant Eve is creative but certainly there are things you can try that's out of the ordinary; however, if you want to play it safe and just go nuts on the classics, you can do that as well. A guy at the table next to us had foie gras for his first course and for his third course. I think you'll find Restaurant Eve a very pleasant experience with excellent service.

            1. re: Ericandblueboy

              Komi was our first choice for that night, but they are closed the entire time we are in DC.

          3. re: Elyssa

            Strolling around Old Town is very romantic, but be forewarned: it's all old brick sidewalks, and high heels can be a death wish. Park the car close and tuck in some flats or flip-flops for the strolling!