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Apr 22, 2009 10:22 AM

Palena menu suggestions

A bunch of friends from college and I have reservations at Palena this weekend (quite excited, based on overwhelmingly good reviews). Just curious if anyone has specific recommendations from the menu (I assume it changes seasonally/regularly, so if anyone has been recently that's probably most relevant. Their website appears to still have a fall menu posted).

Also, what's standard dress for the non-cafe part of the restaurant (men and women)?


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  1. Get their gnocchi, it is sublime, like soft melting pillows.

    3 Replies
    1. re: ktmoomau

      Also last Spring I had their consumme was seasonal with a quail egg, ramps and morels and out of this world. If it's on the menu--get it!

        1. re: Elyssa

          I second the gnocchi and the consumme. Both are out of this world. If you don't like whatever sauce is with the gnocchi you can always ask to have them plain with just butter. Still divine.

          Also, anything with their homemade bacon or other cured meats. And their version of chopped liver, it's sublime.

          I also recommend asking for olive oil with the bread. Sooooo good.

      1. I like the fry plate and any dessert.

        The back of the restaurant is dressy - men in jackets, etc.

        1. Definitely dressy! Men in jackets is a good marker. And, from my recent experience, the crowd seems to be on the older side, which is normally fine, however my husband and I (in our early/ mid 30s) were made to feel a bit "second class." The food was out of this world though, and we were able to put that behind us. We especially loved the ceviche and tartare that was on the menu that night.

          3 Replies
          1. re: jcwexler

            We've been going to Palena for probably 8 years now. Never treated poorly (started going in our early 30s). Wore a jacket there once. No need to, not in the front and not even in the back. Dress smart casual and you'll be fine (meaning, nice pants and nice shirt for the gents and whatever that translates into for the ladies).

            By all means, get anything on the menu as you really cannot go wrong. But, house made or house cured or hose smoked are all things that make me want to order them there. Often, the side accompaniments to a dish are the stars of the show there as well, a tomato risotto that was a side to I can't remember what was so memorable that I still dream about it and have made no less than 6 attempts to try to recreate a pale comparison to it at home.

            1. re: Pool Boy

              Thanks so much for the rec's everyone.

              We had a great time. One of the best dining experiences I've had in D.C. Highlights were spring consomme (w/ morels, ravoilini, ramps, etc), gnocchi (lived up to the hype) in a bolognese, and guinea hen with an unbelievable pan sauce with morels. Staff was great.

              Overall, excellent meal!

              1. re: gtbaum

                Mmmmmm that sounds so wonderful! I think I'm going to have to treat myself to dinner at Palena's cafe sometime soon. I still haven't tried their gnocchi yet (and it's probably one of my top 5 favorite foods in the whole wide world!)