Sunday, November 11, 2012

Palena's Weekend Delights

The best things in life are almost free. Cupcakes may get all the attention; but the once-forgotten doughnut may finally be ready to unseat its icing-covered nemesis atop the list of favorite small desserts. We decided to track down the city's best doughnut holes and our first stop may very well be our last.

Cleveland Park's Palena Restaurant is regarded as one of the city's best dining experiences, and with good reason. A fixture on Washingtonian's 100 Best Restaurants and home to James Beard award winner Frank Ruta, Palena anchors one of the finest culinary stretches in the nation's capital. But did you know they make doughnuts too? It's not an everyday treat mind you: Doughnuts are available at Palena Market weekends only... and they go fast.

I wasn't about to risk going home empty-handed, so I made sure I was first in line Sunday morning (OK, no line but there should be.) A nice guy opened the market door at 10 AM sharp and warmly greeted his first customer (me!) Palena Market offers a modest selection of baked goods (bread puddings, cakes, scones and... doughnuts.) I wanted to sample everything, but settled for two regular doughnuts (coffee and lemon) and four doughnut bites.

$5 later (regular doughnuts cost $2 each; bites are 4 for a buck) I had two small brown bags of deliciousness in my possession. Back home, I snapped the above picture; then got to work on breakfast. The regular doughnuts are light and airy with incredible flavor. Generously sized (the lemon wouldn't even fit in my mouth) these tasty treats are surprisingly filling: Be sure to pace yourself.

When it comes to their smaller colleagues, note this: Palena's minis are the single, most delicious bite in Cleveland Park. You've heard "melt in your mouth" a thousand times before, but these bites literally do. You could charge a dollar a piece, and it would still be a bargain. Credit Palena for baking all doughnuts on the premises: They couldn't be fresher (or better tasting.)

Appearance: B
Freshness: A
Taste: A (The bites are A++)
Value: A+
Overall: A