They opened the night before Thanksgiving to a packed house. The staff still seems a little shell shocked from Wednesday but they reported that Friday and last night were much better. At 7:00 it was packed.
It should be noted that I am an unabashed fan of Palena so I do have a bit of a bias. But on to the details....
Going to the new space tonight was like going home to the house you grew up in after your parents have remodeled. It's warm and familiar, and the people are the same, but nothing is where you remember it.
Those who worked at the old Palena are clearly enjoying their new home. It's fun watching them walk around in this mix between "Holly Shit, it finally happened" excitement and a sort of fog of "we are still Palena but we can't always find the champagne glasses because they are in a new place." The service isn't perfect and kitchen isn't yet up to speed and they know it. But they are in better shape than I've seen at other restaurants who are three days in. And the old timers on the staff are having a great time sharing their new digs.
The menu is still a Chef Ruta'esque menu but there are signs that Jonathan Copeland is running the kitchen. Deviled eggs, duck rillets and one other item start the menu. The deviled eggs are a perfect example how good basic American food can taste when made with farm fresh ingredients. The main menu has a number of choices which are familiar: the burger, roasted chicken, gnocci and Caesar salad. The fries are there too, but it's only the shoestring, not the lemon or anything else you would find in the cafe (which is still operating in its regular manner). New additions include a pate, an antipasti which includes buratta, a veal dish and a steak. Finally, there are about half a dozen vegetable sides which I think are all $7. Seasonal veggies are of course the highlight. I had cauliflower ragu with a small, round pasta. It's warm and comforting with Chef's classic tomato ragu with black olives.. The pasta to cauliflower ratio was higher on the pasta side than I would like though since it's a vegetable side dish. For a main I had the gnocci with meat ragu. The soft pillows of gnocci are the same ones found in the other two dinning rooms.
The final big new item is that there is a head to tail beef dinner which will be served family style. There is a minimum of 6 people and you have to give at least 24 hours notice but it only costs $50. I don't have any other details but already have plans to go.
Click here to read Palena Cafe posts written before Thanksgiving, 2010 (interspersed with the main dining room thread since it previously offered both menus).
It should be noted that I am an unabashed fan of Palena so I do have a bit of a bias.
And, had you not randomly met some guy sitting next to you at the bar many years ago, this website might not exist.
Edited by DonRocks, 05 May 2013 - 09:15 PM.