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“Palena Disappoints”
Review of Palena - CLOSED

Price range: US$31 - US$50
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Business meetings, Romantic
Dining options: Dinner, Breakfast, Reservations
Dining style: Casual Dining
Neighbourhood: Upper Northwest
Cross street: Porter St. SW
Transit: Cleveland Park Metro Stop
Reviewed 3 March 2014

I have been a fan of the restaurant for years. Years. This was our first visit in about 9 months (work got in the way) and we went to celebrate two birthdays in our party of 6. The waiter was surly. The service uneven. The food was uninspiring and downright strange. The pancakes we ordered (we went for their "famous" Zagat rated brunch) were easily a day old. Hard pancakes with two small apple slices and pecans out of a bag, that's what we were served. Even the maple syrup could not soften the pancakes. The sides of bacon we ordered were "smoked" which to Palena means black on the edges and uncooked everywhere else. We also had other items---a burger (nothing unusual), a seafood stew (smelled awful), and bread. Thank goodness for the bread!
I would have spoken with the staff about the service and food quality but when we arrived the hostess was on the phone with an irate patron and the manager could not be found after our meal.
We would have loved to ordered sweets for the birthday guests but no menu for sweets was offered. And we won't be back. It's unfortunate because we have recommended the restaurant to many friends and travelers over the years but we won't going forward.
Go to Range if you're looking for a great brunch menu.

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Thank Coastal766710
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviews (114)
Traveller rating
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4 - 8 of 114 reviews

Reviewed 30 January 2014

My last remark to my dining companions as we walked out the door after having a remarkably unremarkable dinner was the people waiting in line to be seated in the café must have more money than brains. This was my first visit to Palena after waiting for years to finally get there and the wait was not worth it. Was everything terrible, such as not being able to hear or understand our wait staff or being soaked with bottle upon bottle of sparkling water without being asked (we should have stopped them) or waiting for at least a half-hour between our salads and main courses or main courses small enough that we had to go home for dinner? No, the salads were terrific. But beyond the salads spending over $150 for food that would have cost half that at Clyde's or the equivalent place with better service and enough food to at least not leave you hungry was money and time not well spent. I'm sorry I didn't wait longer (forever) to finally go to Palena.

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1  Thank Maryland_USATraveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 January 2014

Sat, Jan 11, my husband & I had a horrible dining experience at Palena Café. We have been regular guests and have always enjoyed the food, service and atmosphere. For this visit, our waiter didn't speak English; couldn't communicate. We ordered and waited for our appetizers to arrive, but the wait was unusually long and the waiter was mia. My husband found a manager who told him that the chef had just closed the kitchen & that we may not be getting anything that we ordered. As my husband explained this to me, our salads arrived. The waiter was unable to confirm if the kitchen was open and if we would receive our entrees. As the next table received their entrees, my husband made his way to the open kitchen where he was told by the nearest chef that his particular station was open. Shocked and ready to leave, our entrees arrived. While the steak frites were fine, the brodetto was missing many of the ingredients including the shellfish. It was after 9:30. We still have no idea what was happening at the restaurant that evening, it was almost as if we were secretly being filmed for a reality tv show! No one came to apologize or offer an explanation, nor were we contacted afterward. (Our reservation was made on Open Table where they collect your contact information. ) One of our favorite restaurants had left such a bad taste in our mouths and memories that we can't comfortable return. We want others to know about our experience and hope to learn if others were effected as we were.

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2  Thank Robin H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 January 2014

Bar service was very good. The tasting menu was excellent with perfect portions. Started out with a few amuse Bouches that were fantastic. All course were very good and portions perfect except for the Caesar salad. Was excellent flavor but very little lettuce. I would recommend and would return. Why not 5 stars? No wow courses. All were excellent solidly done but none made us go wow. Having said that I would definitely recommend and plan to return.

Thank Steve R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 October 2013

I had heard good reviews of this restaurant, but I was hesitant when I first entered. It is not until you are escorted to the secret back room that the magic begins. From the tasty tidbits sent out by the chef, to the masterful cocktail menu, this is a winner. Go - and just trust them to send out whatever they want.... it will all be delicious

Thank Frank P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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