Dining Minis

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One thing is consistent, though: Whether it’s double-chocolate napoleons or braised lamb shoulders, Palena’s offerings are always well-prepared and nicely presented.

Among favorites on the fixed-price menu: The lime-and-cumin-marinated ceviche of wild Alaskan salmon with Sicilian orange, horseradish and peppery greens; and the pan-roasted loin and braised shoulder of lamb with spring vegetables.

Let’s not forget about the classy desserts. The double-chocolate napoleon, which combines flaky (puff pastry) and smooth (ganache) perfectly, is a melt-in-your-mouth masterpiece; the cheesecake (goat cheese and cream cheese) with Amareno cherries in port wine is another delectable treat.

The service is prompt and proper. The ambience is quiet and elegant. From the loud speakers flow only Italian fare from Vivaldi to Puccini. A meal at Palena is fine in the best sense of the word: quiet, innovative and high-quality.

Gabriella Boston

Brasserie Beck

1101 K St. NW

202/408-1717

French-Belgian

A lot of good things are going on at Robert Wiedmaier’s new restaurant, Brasserie Beck. Terrific baguettes are baked on premises and served with sweet whipped butter. Salads are excellent. First courses include a wonderful pea soup with veal cheek meatballs, fine quiche Lorraine, delicious crusty shrimp croquettes; house-made pate.

Fork-tender roast pork tenderloin was superb. Grilled sirloin in a peppercorn and cognac sauce at $24 the most expensive entree was cooked as ordered. Coq au vin was served in a thick, unattractive brown onion sauce. Mussels — the high point of a Belgian restaurant meal — were oversized and mealy. Beck’s Belgian main courses include beef carbonnade, chicken waterzooi, and sauerkraut with sausages baked in pastry.

Beck tends to be super noisy, but its prices are unusually reasonable for food and wine. Its list of Belgian beers is extraordinary.

Corinna Lothar

Kentmorr Restaurant and Crab House

910 Kentmorr Road, Stevensville, Md.

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