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Palena, 2007 James Beard Award Winner Frank Ruta Rocks Cleveland Park - Closed on Apr 26, 2014

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Cleveland Park is simply not a very good location for an upscale restaurant.

It is too far from Downtown with business account and the people living in Cleveland Park are not the same age group that 14th st or Pen n quarter and have a tendency to eat out only on week-ends.

Simpler eatery are doing OK for more sophisticated restaurant you need to go downtown.

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Thank you Frank.  And to the stranger at Tonic in Mt. Pleasant who, in January of 2006, upon overhearing my conversation of where to work next, kindly urged, without hesitation, "go to Palena.  It's t

So, all of this change made me sit here and think of all of the great times I have had at Palena over the years. While this is my own intensely personal point of view, I hope you enjoy reading it, I a

There is a lesson here:  Palena was an outstanding restaurant with a supremely talented chef.  This is a huge loss for Washington. For anyone reading this:  if you passionately believe and love a re

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On 10/10/2009 at 12:33 PM, Pool Boy said:

Dove Sole is a sucker item on almost any menu for my wife. She's had it many times in many ways, but having it braised was a new preparation for her, and for me.

How about raw?   6-inch Dover sole fish leaps into British man's mouth; man goes into cardiac arrest, by Alex Winter, (Bournemouth, England) Daily Echo Published 4:11 a.m. ET Oct. 13, 2017, on usatoday.com.

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On 12/16/2018 at 8:12 PM, DonRocks said:

There has been one post about Palena in 4 1/2 years. 

The planets have become unstuck, and have slipped out of orbit.

Palena was the center of my food universe - Frank, Aggie and the amazing sous chefs that were there over the years - all did such an amazing job. I miss it so. 

On 12/17/2018 at 10:31 AM, Kev29 said:

The realty company controlling the former Redwood space in Bethesda should hand it over to Chef Ruta rent-free for him to re-open Palena there, as an act of civic benevolence. 

There you go, Don, there's a Palena post. 

Bethesda has an appropriate income level to support a great Frank-led restaurant, but there are an awful lot of limitations on beverage programs due to being in MoCo.

On 12/17/2018 at 11:29 AM, Sluggo said:

I still see the 'For lease' signs on the old Palena space when I drive by.  When I saw new posts in this thread, I thought it might be coming back.  A christmas miracle please?

That would be awesome, but unlikely. To survive these days, I do not really think you can survive up in Cleveland Park anymore.


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Many people make a restaurant what it ultimately becomes. The owner. The chef. The folks that come and go as employees and the folks who come and go as guests and customers. 

Palena lost a special one last week: Noel Sanchez. He was one of Palena’s first employees and he worked there until it’s final day. His wife worked at Amernick Bakery down the street. Noel also worked at Ghibellina, Posto and DACOR Bacon House. He plated desserts (all those cookie plates), made caramels, spun ice creams, did most of the fry plates that flew out of the kitchen and always did it with a smile and a joke. 

Noel and his wife Dinora have three kids and have worked their tails off like the many immigrants before them who came to America to make a better life for them and their kids and their future generations. 

Here’s what Frank had to say about Noel when we all found out he passed away Thursday (the first day of Spring):

“Noel was one of Palena’s first employees,  starting out as a part time prep cook/dishwasher Saturday mornings. He was intelligent, keen and he caught on quick. His attitude and personality brought light and effervescence. He soon became a pillar that we all could count on. If there was ever a problem, glitch or if someone needed help of any kind, he was always among the first to take a step forward to help. That's how we knew him as a co- worker. 

But more importantly we all know,  and Jonny and Adam also said, Noel was just a flat out terrific human being. A special person. 
Sarah said in a text, it's brutal and unfair, and this is just an example of how brutal, unfair and heartbreaking life can be. Very sad.”
Rest In Peace Noel Sanchez
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After six years, both store fronts have now been rented.  On the left, the original Palena restaurant space is now a School of Rock. And on the right, in the space the expanded Palena cafe took over....drum roll please...a Chase bank branch. 

Yay Cleveland Park. 

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