Palena Moving to Dupont, Kliman Reports

In today's dining chat, Washingtonian's Todd Kliman reports that Cleveland Park's Palena is moving to Dupont Circle.

Chef Frank Ruta had previously hinted to the possibility, and Kliman followed up with today's news:

Well, there's no denying it now. Palena is moving.

Ruta and Ann Amernick, the owners of the three-and-a-half star Cleveland Park restaurant ("100 Very Best Restaurants," January), are ready to sign a lease to take over the Westinghouse Mansion in Dupont within the next year.

As Ruta indicated earlier, the move to new digs spells the demise of the restaurant and cafe "as we know it."

Though the move will release the popular restaurant from its less-than-desirable location directly beside a gas station, Kliman expresses concern that the move could change Palena completely.

I, selfishly, am simply happy to hear it'll be closer to home. I can't count the nights I've wished I could walk to Palena's bar for a $10 bratwurst and plate of fries. So I'll be eagerly waiting to hear if the bargain cafe menu will make the move.

Dupont dwellers have to be excited, as well, after the news that favorite neighborhood spot Johnny's Half Shell is headed across town to Capitol Hill.

Update: The foodie chat battle deepens, with the Post's Tom Sietsema once again countering Kliman's information in his own chat:

Tom Sietsema: "News to me," says Frank Ruta, who, as Palena's chef, should know.

Palena still has five years to go on its current lease, Ruta tells me, and even if it didn't, there are several obstacles in the way of any imminent move.

One of them is a liquor license: Good luck trying to secure one in Dupont Circle, which is where an investor in Palena recently bought a building, Blaine Mansion, setting off the "Palena is moving" rumors. Another is the property's historic status; and still a third reason Palena won't be relocating anytime soon is the chef's commitment to doing things the right way -- slowly and deliberately, never rashly.

The truth eludes us.