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Rural Society (Formerly Palette), in the Loews Madison Hotel Downtown - Closed


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I had a very pleasant lunch at Palette yesterday. The space is very attractive with a bar area with a decent looking lounge menu worthy of a happy hour.

The lunch menu offered a nice mix of options. My companion and I both went with the yellow tomato bisque with lump crabmeat. I was expecting cold soup and I think this would be better this time of year cold. That said, it was tasty with a nice swirl of chive oil to brighten the flavor. I had the pulled duck spinach salad as an entree. There was far more duck then I would have expected. It was nicely seasoned with an apple peppercorn dressing that accented rather then overwhelmed the duck. My companion had the grilled ahi salad that was more sliced ahi with noodles then salad. He commented on how quickly he inhaled his lunch when I asked how it was. We skipped dessert but with the check comes a large bowl of cotton candy.

They have a nice bread presentation offering several selections. I had lavosh that was somehwat bland. The others looked better and I'd get one of them next time.

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i have long considered pallete a greatly underated bar/lounge in the very crowded dc market space for such establishments. i am glad that you had an enjoyable experience there. while i think that the big tables in the lounge are a perfect backdrop for the start of an evening or blowing off an afternoon of work, i have had very spotty experiences in thier dinning room. the first time i visited (about a year ago) a healthy dolop of bisque was spilled on my dinner companion. what was left of it was quite tasty, though. during another visit, our server was too frequently unavailable to our table while she spent inordinate amounts of time at another within our line of sight. on another occasion, i had a splendid meal and very attentive but unobtrusive service.

it is almost disheartening that i have enjoyed great evenings in the bar area, but treading into the dinning room has been a crap shoot.

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I have had several experiences in the bar area over the past year and a half. They have varied from underwhelming to just plain bad. No time for too many details now, but I would recommend avoiding the place entirely. There are too many competitors that do a much better job to bother giving this place your money.

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from "Ask Tom" a while back I wrote...

Had dinner at Palette this weekend, and It was amazing - the quail salad w/maytag crisp!(complemented by a refreshing sparking rose made only for the restaurant...) - the scallops with morels/foie gras (perfectly cooked) - a squash blossom stuffed with lobster, and the 'chicken spread' (and this was all to start) the black grouper with orzo (goat and tomato) was just great - had a bite of the rabbit but was happily full on everything else. I noticed that your review didn't include what we had eaten - and I have to say this was one of my favorite meals ever in D.C. - I hope that other people go and have the same great experience!!!!

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Has anyone eaten at Palette recently? I'm trying to arrainge 3 business dinners in DC this month all of them need to be in fun hip spots and Palette came to mind. Not to mention they are are member of the Billfish Foundation which I find to be very admirable.

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Went to Palette for dinner on Monday night of Restaurant Week. The meal I had was exceptional and the chef delightful. Our server was excellent and we really enjoyed our meals. Of particular interest were the crab cake appetizers that you could actually taste and see the crab meat, the cauliflower/lobster bisque was punishing and the chicken moist and succulent. My friends had the short ribs which were tasty and tender. It was a nice meal for the value at a very nice restaurant

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I dined at Palette last night, and I was very disappointed with the Restaurant Week offerings. There were only a few items offered at the Restaurant Week prices, and since none of them caught our fancy, my date and I dined off of the regular menu.

What we ate was lovely, but I am always disappointed with restaurants that don't offer a significant portion of their menu for the Restaurant Week promotion. I guess I'm spoiled by places that do, like Acadiana.

A brief report on our dinner... I started with a sweet potato bisque, that was quite nice, and had a tuna entree that had some very interesting Asian flavors which I really enjoyed. The tuna was cooked perfectly -- I asked for a rare preparation, and it came out exactly as I would have prepared it at home. The spring roll served with the tuna was somewhat sweet, almost as if it was made using doughnut batter, and I didn't enjoy that.

My date had a spinach and goat cheese salad, that he enjoyed, and the flatiron steak. He didn't say much about it, but there was none left on the plate, so I'm assuming it was good!

For dessert, we shared a chocolate souffle cake that was served with peanut butter ice cream. It was nice, although did not hold a candle to the dark chocolate tart with caramelized bananas that I had earlier in the week at Corduroy. Or, for that matter, the chocolate bread pudding with bananas that I had at Acadiana. I am noting a trend in flavors I enjoy together...

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Bartender extraordinaire Eugene has mentioned that one of Clark's former sous chefs is running the kitchen now. Based on my last couple of lunch visits it's going swimmingly. Not sure whether or not they're looking for a higher profile replacement chef.

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He did.  Their web site speaks in vague generalities, but says nothing about who is running the show these days.  Anyone know?  Cheers, Rocks

I met the Chef the other night, he is Philipino-American or Hispanic American. He told me that he worked for Tom TPoer when he opened Corduroy I believe and was at Citronelle prior to that. He did put together a nice dinner for us too.

CV

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I had lunch at Palette today. Against my better judgement, I went with their burger with andouille. I gotta tell ya, it was one tastey burger. I think it was the uber-ripe tomatoes that they used, very juicy and full of flavor, that sent the thing over the top. My dininig companion had the pulled duck sub sandwich which he said was great.

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I had lunch at Palette today.  Against my better judgement, I went with their burger with andouille.  I gotta tell ya, it was one tastey burger.  I think it was the uber-ripe tomatoes that they used, very juicy and full of flavor, that sent the thing over the top.  My dininig companion had the pulled duck sub sandwich which he said was great.

Cool. About how much did you end up dropping? Is that a pricey burger?

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The one thing I don't get about this place why it's always empty.

Don't get me wrong... I LOVE the fact that it's empty. It means I can always get a table (reservations? who needs reservations?) at what I think is a fabulous and underrated restaurant.

The service is always friendly and the waitstaff attentive. The whole place oozes with pretension, but it's the sort of pretension that's laughably forgiveable (I once had a waiter who kept saying "Is it delicious?" instead of "How is everything?") and adds to Palette's charm.

The atmosphere (while also pretentious) is thought provoking. They rotate the artwork they present and, while I don't know much about art, I know what I like.

The food is always charmingly original. The foie gras grits are flavorful and perfectly cooked (not that I know anything about grits, being from Philly). If you're hungry, be sure to get a side of the pulled duckling mashed potatoes. Their soups are some of the best in the area. Their pan seared venison tenderloin with acorn squash, candied pecans, thyme juslee and peppercorn butter is one of the most comforting comfort foods I've ever had.

Just a warning for anyone watching their ticker - some of their food can be a little on the salty side.

If you're still hungry for dessert, and it's the right season, their hot chocolate is some of the richest I've ever had.

At the end of the meal they bring you some kind of oddly flavored cotton candy, like keyline or boisenberry - it's a nice touch.

Their selection of original cocktails is varied and refreshing. My personal favorite is Diego Rivera's Dark & Stormy.

If you're just there for happy hour, the lounge serves up a mean smoked chicken spread on grilled sweet potato bread.

And for all you oenephiles, Tuesdays are half off every bottle. And yes, that means you can get the $1,500.00 '97 Château Petrus Pomerol for only $750.

Check out their menu here:

http://www.palettedc.com/index.htm

It's definetely one of my favorite venues in town - I just hope my gushing doesn't make it harder to get a table.

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Went last night. Although I had gone there for Winter RW, I wanted to try the lounge menu. We had the Ciabatta “Pizzetas”, topped with wild mushrooms, and the Pulled Duck Barbeque Melt (duck confit, provolone, caramelized onion jus), and sweet potato fries. My dining companion absolutely LOVED the duck barbeque and the sweet potato fries. I had the leftover pizettas for breakfast. It was a bit too salty for first thing in the morning (I don’t know why I didn’t notice the saltiness last night). We also had a wonderful Toad Hollow Chardonnay. (Has anyone seen this at local stores? I tried my favorite, Calvert Woodley, but they don’t seem to carry it. I’m waiting for a return phone call from their Baltimore distributor.)

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Went last night. Although I had gone there for Winter RW, I wanted to try the lounge menu. We had the Ciabatta “Pizzetas”, topped with wild mushrooms, and the Pulled Duck Barbeque Melt (duck confit, provolone, caramelized onion jus), and sweet potato fries. My dining companion absolutely LOVED the duck barbeque and the sweet potato fries. I had the leftover pizettas for breakfast. It was a bit too salty for first thing in the morning (I don’t know why I didn’t notice the saltiness last night). We also had a wonderful Toad Hollow Chardonnay. (Has anyone seen this at local stores? I tried my favorite, Calvert Woodley, but they don’t seem to carry it. I’m waiting for a return phone call from their Baltimore distributor.)
They have been known to oversalt a few dishes, but that's a minor flaw in an otherwise overlooked and underappreciated restaurant.

They do amazing things with duck. Try their pulled duckling mashed potatoes.

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As I was staying at The Madison Hotel on a business trip into town, I enjoyed a really nice lunch at Palette this past Monday. The peaky toe crab salad included a fair, but not overwhelming, portion of crab meat, on a bed of very fresh greens, with a heirloom tomato and avocado yogurt dressing. The house lemonade also hit the spot. The bar is a terrific, comfortable place for the solo diner to set up camp. From 12-12:30 on a Monday, Palette was pretty quiet with only one other diner at the bar and 3-4 tables in the main dining room.

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Stopped in for happy hour. Had two generous helpings of Laphroaig and my wife had a glass of the house rosé, which is specially made for the restaurant.

We got an order of the ciabatta "pizzetas" with andouille sausage. They apologized for the delay in getting it out to us and comped it (which was odd since we'd only been waiting twenty minutes and didn't have anywhere to be for another forty, but I'm not one to complain about free food).

It's a great deal for $8... it would definetely make a full meal for one and a filling appetizer for two. The crust was crispy and well-textured, the cheese was perfectly melted with just the right ratio of white space to browned, carmelized cheese, and the slabs of andouille were generous and juicy, going amazingly well with the cheese (and my scotch).

For my next visit I'll have to try the suspiciously named "Rockwell Classic" martini.

Why why WHY don't more people go to this place and write about it??? :)

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In my family, we have a traditional Puerto Rican Christmas Eve dinner, with no special meal for Christmas Day. This year, we opted for eating out on Xmas Day, so my mother, aunt and uncle, NQD, flygirl and I had Christmas dinner at Palette, mostly because it was one of few places open and capable of seating six by the time I got around to making reservations (NQD and I had eaten there before and enjoyed it).

The Christmas menu was limited. The amuse bouche was - damn it, I can't remember. A small cup of something with creme fraiche and shaved foie gras. Delicious. The next course was a choice of veloute of chestnut and salsify; squab with goat cheese and beets; and seared scallops, and one or two other items that none of us ordered. The veloute was wonderful, smooth-textured, rich and chestnutty enough to be an excellent winter soup but not at all heavy. I didn't taste the squab but those who did seemed to be quite happy with their choices. My uncle loved the scallops and had no desire to share.

The mains were Hereford beef tenderloin and yukon gold potatoes; turkey, ham, chorizo & cherry stuffing, and cranberry chutney; snapper and some cut of lamb (I don't eat the stuff, so I didn't pay attention). My beef was perfectly cooked, with a nice crusty exterior and butter-soft interior. The sauce was rich and salty, exactly on the right side of the oversalted line. NQD says her turkey/ham dish was basically a plate of standard holiday foods, very well-executed, well-balanced, and delicious. Mom loved her snapper; my uncle barely said a word about his lamb, but consumed it with his eyes closed and an ecstatic look on his face.

Desserts lived up to the rest of the meal. I had the Christmas pudding and creme anglais; I don't know what a Christmas pudding is supposed to be, but I have to believe that this was it. A trifle was enjoyed by those who ordered it, but I prefer my choice.

Various glasses of wine were ordered, along with a bottle of 2003 Flowers Pinot Noir. Very nice, but I'm not a wine guy so I won't try to describe it.

Clearly the front of house was not at full strength, but service was generally good, if a bit slow at times. The date and the limited menu suggest the kitchen was also short a few hands, but there was no indication of that on the plate. The food drew raves all around, and for a Christmas menu was very impressive. We will definitely be back.

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I had lunch here the other day, and had the butternut squash soup and turkey burger with andouille. I'm not sure if it was because of the holiday, so they were working with a skeleton crew, but the whole vibe was on the bizarre end. Other people in the group had been before also mentioned it, and were disappointed.

Butternut squash soup was really good, not sweet, which is usually the case. When it's too sweet I feel like I should be eating it for dessert rather than entree. It had a few bits of shrimp, which were really nice.

The turkey burger with andouille and smoked cheddar was on the dry end. I guess, what do you expect for a turkey burger... but another person at the table said his regular beef burger was also dry. It also came with some weird sort of side sauce, which I think was maybe raspberry ketchup? It tasted a lot like they had put Fruit Roll-ups in a blender with some water. That DID NOT go on the burger.

Also... was sort of hoping to get some of the cotton candy (another sorta weird thing about this place), but alas...

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I had lunch there today and it was very good. Service was exceptional though it may have helped that my boss is a regular there(three times this week).

I had yellow gazapcho which was very nice with a few pieces of crabmeat. The crab should probably have been lobster as they were no match for the soup. For an entree I had seared Ahi tuna which was well prepared and tasty as each piece had a white anchovy on it.

Deserts looked good but i passed.

I'll be back

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I went here for Restaurant Week several years ago and was pretty impressed, the space was pretty fetching and the food was solid, especially for Restaurant Week. So, last fall when I won an auction item that included a night at The Madison and dinner for two at Palette, I would say that I was pretty happy. By the way, by "winning" I mean drunkingly bidding on about 20 items at a charity event so I ended up with like 15 items.

Anyway, I would say that my trip last week was the exact opposite of my trip several years ago. The space is still nice, but the food was pretty awful and the service went right along with it. I am not going to spend a lot of time on this review, but let's just say that the best part of it were the $5 M&M's that we had for dessert out of the minibar in our room as opposed to ordering another clunker of a dish for dessert.

Quick thoughts - bread was tasteless, slaw with the crab cakes was inedible, mac and cheese tasted like it was made with Velveeta, burger was ordered medium rare and came out well done (twice), barbeque duck sandwich tasted only of sauce. Four dishes, four failures, very disappointing. Not sure if this is a trend (no posts about the restaurant in over two years), but it was not a good showing.

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Looks like they closed in January due to change in hotel ownership, not sure if this is a permanent closure or if they will change the concept. They've had union protests outside for over a month and a half. The complaints are interesting regarding them coming in and being told they no longer had jobs... I realize the rules are different for unionized workers, but this seems to be de rigeur for a lot of restaurants that close.

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On 2/28/2011 at 1:58 PM, synaesthesia said:

Looks like they closed in January due to change in hotel ownership, not sure if this is a permanent closure or if they will change the concept. They've had union protests outside for over a month and a half. The complaints are interesting regarding them coming in and being told they no longer had jobs... I realize the rules are different for unionized workers, but this seems to be de rigeur for a lot of restaurants that close.

Arnel Esposo's January 27th. Facebook Status says this:

"Palette is closed. We'll be back soon with a new restaurant, new concept, new food! Stay tuned! In the meantime, come hang out at PostScript Lounge at the Madison Hotel."

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So Monty's steak is 10% cheaper, 10% bigger, dry-aged (is Rural Society's dry-aged?), and comes choice of side order (with any second side order only $4 more) - that's a huge difference in price. You can do the math, but any way you do it, it won't be pretty.

The 12oz strip loin at Rural Society says it's dry aged, but that's the only cut on the menu that touts its aging. At $55, it's also the most expensive item offered. The 12oz ribeye I had ($42) was supposedly grass fed and from Uruguay, but it wasn't very distinctive or flavorful, beyond being very salty. I suppose it's possible that all of that salt masked the meat's flavor.

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