Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Palena Cafe Makes One of the Best Roast Chickens

Palena Cafe's roasted chicken is cooked-to-order and worth every one of the 40+ minute wait. The secret to its wonderfulness is in the 2-day brine.  I asked about the brine, but the waiter told me the recipe's a secret.
The chicken has a crispy, salty skin that you can't help but eat, even though you know it's bad for you. The chicken meat is surprisingly juicy and tender for white breast meat. The bed of sauteed greens soak up the juices as you cut into the chicken, and offer a nice contrast in flavor.
3529 Connecticut Avenue NW
Update:  Palena and Palena Cafe have finally undergone a makeover.  The former MacGruder's space now holds an extension.  Chef Frank Ruta's a masterful chef and I look forward to experiencing the changes.  Food boards have been filled with people griping about the $3 charge for a bread basket, and bemoaning the loss of one kitchen for both the Cafe and the Restaurant.  In this age of mediocre bread baskets abounding, I would pay for a fresh, well-conceived selection.  Birch and Barley's another restaurant with a remarkable bread selection that I wager is worth a nominal fee, although hopefully they'll continue to send out those pretzel rolls for free.

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