Dining Minis

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Cafe du Parc

1401 Pennsylvania Ave. NW

202/942-7000

French

Cafe du Parc is the new informal restaurant in the Willard Intercontinental Hotel. The food is neither haute cuisine nor experimental cuisine nouvelle, but excellent bourgeois dishes typical of brasserie fare, some with a contemporary accent.

Appetizers include three small sardines, grilled with garlic and parsley, beef tartare, steamed mussels and pate of veal, pork and duck wrapped in pastry.

A splendid main course is a meltingly tender square of breast of pork. Chicken breast is roasted with a mustard and bread crumb coating. The lunch menu has a plat du jour, ranging from a whole roasted chicken on Mondays to short ribs on Wednesday or lamb for Sunday lunch. For dinner, regional specialties such as sauteed skate with capers and butter and tomatoes filled with vegetables, goat cheese and toasted hazelnuts are prepared.

It’s not exactly Paris, but the restaurant retains a genuine French quality without being pretentious or stuffy.

Corinna Lothar

Palena

3529 Connecticut Ave. NW

202/537-9250

Modern Italian

Pastry chef Ann Amernick and executive chef Frank Ruta continue to serve their high-quality, innovative, modern Italian fare at their Cleveland Park restaurant, Palena, which is really two restaurants in one.

The back dining room is fancy and features fixed-price menus. The front dining room, Palena Cafe, offers cheaper, a la carte fare.

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