Trouble With Toast

Palena: a bright spot in Cleveland Park | April 2, 2008

Last Friday night, I finally made it to Palena with the boyfriend, who knew that I wanted to eat there before moving and suggested it for our date night. We arrived at around 6:30 and were seated immediately in the cafe. Ordering drinks was easy (beer for boyfriend, chenin blanc for me), but food presented a much more difficult decision! As much as we were tempted to order from the main restaurant menu, we decided to stick with the cafe fare and then come back at a later date and sit in the dining room.

Boyfriend ordered the burger (rare), I ordered the black grouper (with potatoes, veggies, and a lemon sauce), and we split the fry plate. The burger was tasty, and the bun was maybe the best I’ve ever had, but unfortunately the meat came out closer to medium. Based on it being overcooked, boyfriend ranked the burger an 8 out of 10. Still pretty high marks–I can only imagine how good it would be if it was a little less done. The grouper was delicious and very light. And the fry plate? Oh. My. GAWD. The classic french fries were wonderfully crispy on the outside, yet still tender on the inside. The onion rings had the perfect thin coating, and the dauphine (spelling?) potatoes were unlike anything I’ve ever had before. I didn’t know what to think of the fried lemon slices at first, but they were really refreshing and unique.

Dessert was cannoli and the cookie platter. The former was very good, but the latter was just divine. Do they make them all in-house? Every item on the plate was delectable, but if I had to pick a favorite, it would be a tie between the caramel (texture and flavor were divine) and the brittle (I think it was almond). Yummy in my tummy.

My biggest complaint about the evening is that I felt we were being rushed out. I know the cafe is busy, and maybe the brusqueness was just our server’s style, but it was a little unpleasant to feel like the clock was ticking. Next time I’ll make sure to do better on my part to request a more leisurely experience. Other than that, though, Palena was a hit–I hope to return before my departure.



  1. What is the deal with being rushed out? Not appreciated!!

    Comment by Lemmonex — April 2, 2008 @ 5:27 pm

  2. Yeah, first Palena, then Ray’s! I understand the desire to turn tables, but my money spends the same as the next party, ya know?

    Comment by bettyjoan — April 3, 2008 @ 1:16 pm

  3. I’m so glad you got to experience Palena, but sorry it left something lacking. I agree the fries are AWESOME! I also had a great chocolate dessert there although I can’t exactly remember what it was.

    Comment by barbara — April 4, 2008 @ 12:07 am

  4. I’m still dreaming about those fries. There was a chocolate dessert on the menu (though I’m blanking on specifics), but we had heard so much about the cookie platter that we had to give it a try. WELL worth it!

    Comment by bettyjoan — April 4, 2008 @ 12:08 pm

  5. Hmmm. I’m glad you posted. I’ve been debating whether it was worth dragging my boyfriend out for fries there, but since he’s rather a homebody I like to now if it’s worth it first. šŸ™‚

    Comment by veggielove — April 8, 2008 @ 10:56 pm

  6. Thanks! I thought the fries were the highlight of the meal, followed VERY closely by the cookie plate.

    Comment by bettyjoan — April 10, 2008 @ 4:44 pm

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