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Cedar, 8th and E Streets in Penn Quarter - Chef Aaron McCloud Has Departed


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I first saw this soon-to-be open announcement courtesy of Penn Quarter Living and only really saw how >close< it was to the PQ Farmer's Market, after my trip there today. According to the two gentleman right outside the restaurant and assuming they are employees, I asked when they are opening. Their response was Monday, May 11. Keep your eyes open, I guess!

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Update from Washington Business Journal, through the dearest oliveDC's blog, metrocurean. Helmed by Chef Andrew Kitko.

Gustatory Notes From All Over (Block That Analogy!):

According to Heidenberger, the restaurant is hoping to achieve an urban, outdoorsy feel, a “Field and stream kind of thing,” as he describes it. Graphics on the wall portray a cedar forest, with cedar wood accents throughout the 80-seat restaurant.

“We’re looking to satisfy the theatre crowd and the after-hockey crowd,” Heidenberger said.

Do you think maybe he meant "Town and Country" for that urban, outdoorsy theme feel rather than "Field and Stream?"

Or was that "Sports Illustrated?" Or "The Kenyon Review?"

I think that with the cedar theme, "Cigar Aficionado" and "Pot Pourri" are also covered.

Final question: Will the graphics on the wall portraying a cedar forest include the title "Ceci n'est pas une foret?"

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Cedar was completely empty last night, and several of the drinks on their cocktail menu were unavailable, but an Asparagus Salad ($10) with Meyer lemon mousseline, Parmesan, and olive oil croutons was excellent. In particular, the croutons - which I generally don't like - were out-of-this-world good. This below-ground restaurant is ripe for a mention in Wednesday's Food section, so maybe that will give them a bump in Sunday-night business.

One thing worth remembering about Cedar is that they offer brunch on Saturday as well as Sunday.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Some friends are thinking of heading here tonight for a drink (or seven). Has anyone spent some time at the bar? Is seating conducive to a group? Are there bar tables beyond seats at the actual bar? Just trying to get a flavor for whether a group of us would be scrunching in there b/c it's mainly for food or if it's a good bar destination too. Thanks so much!

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Final question: Will the graphics on the wall portraying a cedar forest include the title "Ceci n'est pas une foret?"

Your allusion to Surrealism intrigues, but I am not quite convinced that the restaurateurs intended that we might ponder the problem of The Picture---or illusionism, for that matter--whilst we dine.

Were you to enter the subterranean space as I have, you might note that the rendering of said forest with its flat, broad shapes of deeply contrasted, unmodulated color evokes Pop Art more than any early twentieth-century style; I am thinking of Andy Warhol's silk screen prints in particular. Say, if he got a grant to spend the summer at Yaddo and fell for a Scandinavian textile designer.

On the other hand, now that I think of it, I have to take back some of my earliest remarks. Sorry. No, you're brilliant, as always, to foreground the matter of illusionism. Yet, I'd argue the frescoes in Livia's villa at Primaporta seem most relevant, especially since this illusionistic garden rings the walls of a triclinium (dining room). The imagery dissolves the solid stone walls and situates the couches of reclining diners in an idyllic, fertile space whose bounty, it is argued, bespeaks the glory and promise of the realm of Michelle's Livia's husband, Octavian, The Augustus, Pax Romana, and the new Roman Empire.

Yet, why cedars?

Think Lebanon and medieval exegesis.

And how beautiful you are, my beloved,

and how gentle,

Wherever we lie, our bed is green,

Our roofbeams are cedar, our rafters, fir.

So, come with me, my love, come away...

There among blossom and vine I will give you my love,

Musk of the violet mandrakes spilled upon us . . .

And returning, finding our doorways piled with fruits,

The best of the new-picked and the long-stored,

My love, I will give you all I have saved for you.

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Had a very good experience at Cedar a week ago Monday (a busy week kept me from posting until now). I started with the market lettuce salad, which was as advertised - fresh, seasonal, and with a very nice vinagrette. The quail entree (stuffed with wild mushrooms) was well cooked, with crispy skin and moist meat, deboned and perfectly accompanied by a rich, dense au jus. The mushrooms added a nice meatiness to the quail and nicely supplemented its small size. The side of well seasoned mashed potatoes, with some skin included, tasted remarkably of potato, rather than simply dairy, salt and pepper. The portions were fairly small, but the prices are quite reasonable, making hopeful that the restaurant is going for a value propostion in which I get small amounts of very good food for a reasonable price, rather than huge amounts of bad food at a reasonable price. It's an approach I'm happy to see, with results I'm happy to eat. It's just around the corner from work, and I'll definitely be back.

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Made it out of the house today to fight cabin fever and was wandering around Penn Quarter. We walked by Cedar and I realized I didn't know much at all about the place. The menu in the window looked pretty tasty (limited choices, but some good-looking stuff for both brunch and dinner) and made me wonder if it was worth checking out. It's #93 in Washingtonian's newest Top 100 list, which is somewhat intriguing. The Pork Belly BLT sounded quite comforting.

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Made it out of the house today to fight cabin fever and was wandering around Penn Quarter. We walked by Cedar and I realized I didn't know much at all about the place. The menu in the window looked pretty tasty (limited choices, but some good-looking stuff for both brunch and dinner) and made me wonder if it was worth checking out. It's #93 in Washingtonian's newest Top 100 list, which is somewhat intriguing. The Pork Belly BLT sounded quite comforting.

Yup, Cedar's definitely a good place to visit when in the Chinatown / Penn Quarter area.

It's one of my personal go-to spots when watching a Gallery Place movie for a cheap but tasty bar meal, bar items are something like $6 each or package deal [like 3 for $15]. I've taken my group several times here with very positive results. Friendly service, same goes for the Bar staff, and flavorful dishes [warning, perhaps not the most healthiest lol ... butter is their friend here]. Go check it out ;)

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The portions were fairly small, but the prices are quite reasonable, making hopeful that the restaurant is going for a value propostion in which I get small amounts of very good food for a reasonable price, rather than huge amounts of bad food at a reasonable price.

I would agree in general with this assessment. I recently went for lunch with some co-workers and we all really liked the food, although they both commented on the tiny portion that was my wild mushroom strudel entree. I cannot complain at all about the dish itself - it was creative (not always a given with vegetarian entrees), with a mixture of greens, mushrooms, crispy phyllo, and an excellent creamy goat cheese sauce. But I was still really hungry after eating it, which forced me ( ;) ) to order dessert - a very moist, nicely spiced carrot layer cake.

My co-workers each ordered the flat iron steak salad, which was a normal size portion. Service was pleasant, if a little slow. (If I were at dinner, I doubt I would have noted this last point, but it ended up being a 2 hour lunch, which was a little longer than I expected.)

Although I guess ymmv on what is a "reasonable" price. The mushroom strudel was $15 at lunch (steak salads were $16) and the carrot cake was $9, which would probably move it into the "special occasion lunch" category for me.

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I stopped by Cedar for happy hour (5-7 PM) last night, and enjoyed a pint of Red Hook's Long Hammer IPA ($5). Though tempted by the bar snacks (which get cheaper if you order in bulk) I opted instead for a bowl of Potato, Leek, and Fennel Soup ($9), poured over a tater-tot-sized cylinder of blue-crab salad. I may have been the first person ever to order this since it just went on the menu yesterday. It was a good soup, and a lovely presentation - it's supposed to come with crème fraîche, but I didn't really pick that up, although I think I found some tarragon in the crab salad.

Cheers,

Rocks

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My boyfriend and I got some unexpected great news today, and decided to go out for an early celebratory dinner around 5:30. We wanted to stay in our neighborhood, which is roughly Mt. Vernon Triangle/Chinatown/Penn Quarter, so we made reservations at Poste. Unfortunately, when we got there it was so unbearably hot inside that we realized we wouldn't be able to have an enjoyable dinner, so we had to leave. I think having an open kitchen dining room on a 100 degree day without properly adjusted air conditioning is insane, but you can read about that in my post in the Poste thread. Anyway, we had considered Cedar as well, and we were able to hop over there and get a table without a reservation since it was still very early in the evening. I am so glad that we did.

Our meal was excellent in every regard. First of all, I really like the space. It's underground, so it was very cool inside temperature-wise, and it's a small, intimate space with a small number of tables and a nice bar area. The decor is simple and tasteful--white tablecloths but not pretentious at all. Our server was also great, along with the busboys who filled our water and cleared the plates. The service was timed just right, and she had great recommendations and was very knowledgeable about the menu. She was also genuinely friendly, so she really made the evening that much nicer.

Now the food: delectable! I started my meal with a glass of Prosecco and a chilled corn soup with blue crab and creme fraiche. It was so smooth and tasted like the essence of the best corn you've ever had, and the crab really complimented the smooth corn soup base. I loved it, and I thought it was an especially appropriate and refreshing dish in light of the oppressive summer heat. My boyfriend had a scallop appetizer, grilled and served with tomato jam. I love scallops and I eat them frequently at restaurants, and these were outstanding. The grill flavor was just right, and they really seemed to be cooked perfectly. The tomato jam was complex but not overwhelming, and complemented the scallops very nicely.

For our entrees, I had the butter-poached lobster served with edamame, potato puree, and a variety of gourmet mushrooms, while my boyfriend had the lemon-black pepper crusted duck breast. Again, both were executed perfectly, and were so delicious. I usually don't order lobster but I'm glad I did tonight. The dish came together much better than I ever though lobster, edamame and potatoes could, and the butter sauce and mushrooms put the dish over the top. The duck was superb as well, served with a sort of berry sauce and a few young carrots and pears. We both couldn't help but clean our plates.

After such a large, great meal we opted not to get dessert, but the choices did look tempting and I have no doubt that they would have been great, judging from the rest of our meal. I was truly surprised by what a gem this place is, and I feel like maybe it's not getting the credit or notoriety that it deserves. In sum, if you are considering a meal at Cedar, I would highly recommend it.

I've attached a picture of the scallop appetizer--it's the only food picture we took.

post-7122-127932616291_thumb.jpg

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Went to Cedar on Saturday night and enjoyed the meal, but probably wouldn't rush back. Nothing wrong, per say, just nothing to elevate it over some of my other favorites in the city.

For a basement dining room, they, like Vidalia, do a good job of opening up the space. The pictures of the cedars all along the walls are a bit much, but the mirrors area nice addition. The bar was actually quite busy while we were there, and I love that the last drink on the cocktail menu is a "Bartender's Choice" (we asked our waitress and she said the bartender decides what it's going to be at the beginning of the night, sometimes based on the preferences of the first person to order it).

I started with the Grilled Day Boat Scallops (heirloom tomato jam, lime mousseline $14) and the +1 had Maple Glazed Pork Belly (sweet potato puree, micro bulls blood $12). The scallops were the favorite for us with a generous 3-scallop serving. With the addition of a side or vegetable it could easily be an entree. The tomato jam is apparently made in-house with some brown sugar, cinnamon and cumin and was really a nice accompaniment. The pork belly was ok but overly crisped on the outside and ended up a little dry. Certainly not the best I've had.

Entrees were also large portions. I had Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin (goat cheese grits, applewood bacon, roasted cherries $26) and the +1 had the Grass Fed Beef Duo (grilled tenderloin, glazed short rib, potato cake, braised winter vegetables). The pork was almost overly "herby" on some pieces, but the grits were creamy and good. The roasted cherries were actually more of a cherry sauce that was poured all over the entire plate. Luckily it wasn't too sweet or tart, and did compliment the meal, but was a bit heavy handed. The short rib was fork tender and the tenderloin was good as well. The potato cake could have used a little salt and the vegetables consisted of maybe 2 baby carrots.

I think dessert was our favorite course. Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Bar (candied hazelnuts, hazelnut ice cream $9). The bar reminded me a bit of Michel Richard's kit kat since it had a waffery layer that offered a nice textural contrast to the smooth chocolate and PB. The ice cream went well with it too.

Overall a good meal, but enough little things here and there that it's not something I will rush back to in the future.

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Have no idea of the genesis of this place although, when I asked the manager, he said the owner was Ethiopian and had worked at a number of restaurants in the DC area. But we had a delicious meal there last night that I had to share, especially because I couldn't find another forum on Cedar . . . .

Belated birthday dinner with two friends. Interesting cocktail menu - I had the Uziel, made with grapefruit vodka - very refreshing. Appetizers were shared - day boat scallops, cooked perfectly (often overcooked) and market lettuce salad, both quite good. I had the pork tenderloin with goat cheese grits (these needed a little salt, but I like salt) and my friends had rainbow trout and grilled prawns (app as a main course). Everything was tasty and our plates were cleaned. We all kept asking each other why we didn't know about this place before.

Dessert for me was bread pudding, friends shared the chocolate peanut butter thing - I got a candle and we all got complimentary after dinner drinks - elderflower with prosecco, I think. All good.

The place wasn't full but did a decent night with one larger table and some folks at the bar. It is quite small, maybe 10 tables and a small bar area. Service was deferential and consistent.

It is kind of weird for me to eat underground - it's a NYC subway thing - but the decor was disarming and I didn't mind.

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I think Cedar gets lost because it's 1.) yet another "New American" cuisine restaurant in an area that's glutted with them, with a lot of them producing pretty good food and 2.) its location and proximity to all these other restaurants that are closer to the touristy/office worker paths. It's sad because I've had about 5+ great meals there (brunch, lunch and dinner) since they opened, and the quality and service has been consistent and wonderful. Even at other restaurants I love where I've eaten even more meals (like The Majestic in Old Town), I've had times where either the food or the service (or both) weren't up to par. I truly wish the best for Cedar and make it a point to spread the word and give my highest recommendations whenever I can, but everyone always ends up going someplace like Jaleo or Poste. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I just personally think Cedar deserves more recognition for the solidly good food they pump out.

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Here is another of my "Penn Quarter" good-for-lunch hangouts.

I first tried this place in 2010 as part of the DC Restaurant Week promo and found it to be a good, solid place with excellent cooking. I followed this up in January's version of the Week and had a similar conclusion.

But in particular, I have found Matt the bartender to a serious mixologist who has left me staggering after some very good off-the-menu libations. On a couple of occasions his fine cocktails left me completely unable to return to work to finish off my afternoon shift.

Food is solid, ambience pleasing, but in particular the service and cocktails at the bar have been superb. All IMHO.

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We went out last night to celebrate my birthday. I had originally planned on going to Taberna del Alabardero but decided I didn't want to be that formal and canceled the reservation and made one at Cedar. I had never been but friends had recommended it. I called and asked about the corkage policy and was told that it would be $25 per bottle and please do not bring something that is on their wine list. That is about normal for DC on a Saturday night.

When we arrived they were most accommodating. I had requested that I have a table rather than a booth when I made my reservation on OpenTable. When we got there we were shown to a hidden niche that had two booths both of which had a chair on one side. I indicated that I found that uncomfortable (and since I was dining with my wife and son, not a mistress or spy) was it possible to sit someplace else. They asked for a moment then set up a table for us sort of in the bar but to the side. It turned out to be perfect.

We were looking at the menus, my son Jake and I noted that we really were interested in the tasting menu, but also really wanted the Foie Gras. The server (a very nice, personable, and really young lady) said that they could vary the tasting menu. She then asked if we were interested in having the chef put together a tasting menu to go specifically with the wines we brought. We said yes, but asked if it would be possible for just Jake and I have the tasting menu because my wife would not want to eat that much. After consulting with the chef, she said they could do that.

So Jake and I opted for a 7 course tasting and my wife for a three course one; hers to include the Cedar Roasted Salmon, ours to include Foie Gras. The server then took the wines back to the chef for him to taste, and to build our meals around.

The wines I brought with me were:

2007 Domaine Weinbach Riesling Schlossberg Cuvée Ste. Catherine L'Inédit!

2007 Kosta Browne Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir (the restaurant decanted the wine for us when we arrived.)

1990 Chateau Sudiraut Sauterne (375ml) (for the Foie and dessert)

The meal started with an amuse-bouche of a lamb sausage tart. Spicy, lightly gamy, and just right.

The first courses to go with the Reisling were (for Jake and me)

Strawberry Salad, mixed spring greens, stilton, pickled fennel, strawberry balsamic, black pepper meringues

Lobster and White Chocolate Soup

Rabbit sausage on a bed of trumpet mushrooms

For Karen

House Smoked Carolina Trout with a salad of asparagus, lemon creme fraiche, phyllo, watercress

The next course, to go with the Sauterne was

Foie Gras au Torchon with grilled pineapple, banana nut toast, pomegranate molasses. Jake and I both agreed that it was fantastic.

To go with the Kosta Browne

For Karen, Cedar Roasted Salmon wtih barley, bacon and root vegetable risotto.

Jake and me, Grass Fed Beef Tenderloin with horseradish-potato puree, Swiss chard, pickled ramps, and burgundy jus. I would have preferred it to be rare rather than medium rare, but it was tender, delicious, and went perfectly with the wine.

Next came a course of 6 artisanal cheeses. The chef came out to explain them to us. Stand outs were the San Andreas, a semi-firm, raw sheep cheese, the Grayson, a semi-soft, raw cow milk cheese that was perfect for stinky cheese lovers, and the Stilton Colston Bassett.

Deserts were

For Jake a Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Bar with candied hazelnuts and gianduja ice cream

For Karen a goat cheese cheese cake, and for me a lemon pana cotta with blackberry filling.

Service could not have been better. It was friendly, discrete, and very efficient. Everyone went out of their way to make us feel welome and to make sure that everything went right. We shared the wines with our server (she loved the Sudiraut that was as old as she was), the owner, and the Chef.

By the end of the meal we were stuffed, had spent 2 and a half hours enjoying ourselves, and decided that Cedar is definitely worth more hype than it is getting. We could not have been treated better, found more accommodating hosts, or enjoyed ourselves more. We will definitely be back.

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Hi dinwiddie,

we were actually sitting right next to you. I couldn't agree more - we had a great meal and the server was knowledgeable and accommodating as was the entire staff. I'll write more soon about our meal and will be blogging about our dinner in the coming week but had to respond to your posting.

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I had the lobster with white chocolate soup as well and absolutely loved it. I had no idea what to expect but it was a creamy soup- not too sweet -with a touch of crunchy vegetables in the bottom. I also enjoyed the Braised Texas Wild Boar with cardamom and carrot puree, toasted farro, and maple jus. It was very rich and I could actually only eat a few bites- I was too full from the soup and the wonderful crusty bread. I had some of the boar for lunch today and I still couldn't finish it. Very generous portion. What made the entire experience stand out, however, was the staff. The server was outstanding and the charming chef was making the rounds. As we departed, the manager/owner shook everyone's hands and seemed genuinely appreciative that we were there. Their attitudes took the entire experience to a higher level.

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Since we had a 7 course tasting menu, our serving of the soup was only a small cup, but that was more than sufficient. It also had a large chunk of lobster in it. I loved how it was sweet and yet had that lobster/salty taste of the sea. I thought the Boar would have been interesting, and if I had been ordering on my own, probably would have gotten it. However, as noted above, we (my son and I) put ourselves in the very capable hands of the chef for him to choose what we ate. Our only requirement was that the meal include the Foie Gras. And the Foie Gras was the course of the night for both of us, but then we were predisposed to love it. I could have made a meal of 7 courses of it (if my heart didn't explode first) it was so good.

The manager/owner also came by to make sure everything was OK (and to get a taste of the Sauterne). He certainly has a nice little place there.

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On Saturday five of us met for dinner at Cedar. I had arranged with the restaurant for us to bring wines with us and Chef McCloud would create a five course meal to go with the wines we brought. With the exception of my son, I had never met any of the other diners before, but all were wine geeks I correspond with on the Wine Spectator boards.

Dinner was fantastic. Chef McCloud tasted each of the wines before deciding what we would be served and also decided which wines he wanted us to serve with each dish. The only dish we specifically requested was the second course, foie gras. The pairings were spot on and the meal absolutely fantastic.

We started with an Amuse Bouche - Grilled watermelon with a spiced watermelon sorbet and micro greens

First course -Heirloom tomatoes 5 ways: fried green, smoked, marinated in olive oil and grains of paradise, tomato curd, and a spicy hot Bloody Mary sorbet. With house made feta and shallot caviar. Paired with a 2005 Shea Wine Cellars Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir (Williamette Valley.) (Who knew you could pair PN with tomato?)

Second course -Foie gras with sugar plums and corn bread. Paired with an '07 Sea Smoke Southing. (Santa Rita Hills)

Third course - Local Blue Rouge farm raised chicken with Virginia corn and caramelized cantaloupe. Paired with an '04 Martinelli Seven Mules Vineyard Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley)

Fourth course - Idaho Wagyu with smoked corn husk, tea smoked venison with ratatouille in the center. Paired with an '87 Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. (Napa Valley)

Final Course - Stilton cherry cheesecake, brittle, bing cherries, Amaretto crumb cookie. Or blueberries three ways, brule, cobbler, and jelled with sesame crisp. Paired with an '03 Martinelli Seven Mules Pinot Noir.

Chef McCloud came out and explained each course. The service was fantastic and everyone had a great time. Our server Noelle (who is also the events manager at the restaurant and the person who I dealt with to set up the dinner) was fantastic, very friendly, very professional, and very efficient.

Best of all, because it is a slow time of year, the restaurant waived the corkage fees for the wine.

If I could figure out how to do it, I'd have posted pictures of the meal (and the wines).

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A couple of weeks ago my wife, son, and nephew went to Cedar (at my nephew's request). As usual, I brought wine (2009 Karl Lawrence Chardonnay Aldin, 2007 Dain Wines Pinot Noir American Beauty Amber Ridge Vineyard, and a 2002 Karl Lawrence Cabernet Sauvignon). My wife had three courses, but the guys decided to let Chef McCloud build a 7 course tasting menu around the wines. After taking the wines back to the chef for a taste of each, the food began to arrive. Only the second course (foie gras), third course (rabbit sausage) and 6th course (cheese plate) were the same for us. Each of the other courses was a different item for each of us. As usual, the pairings were spot on, and as usual, delicious.

Service was exceptional and we could not have been treated more warmly.

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A couple of weeks ago my wife, son, and nephew went to Cedar (at my nephew's request). As usual, I brought wine (2009 Karl Lawrence Chardonnay Aldin,2007 Dain Wines Pinot Noir American Beauty Amber Ridge Vineyard, and a 2002 Karl Lawrence Cabernet Sauvignon). My wife had three courses, but the guys decided to let Chef McCloud build a 7 course tasting menu around the wines. After taking the wines back to the chef for a taste of each, the food began to arrive. Only the second course (foie gras), third course (rabbit sausage) and 6th course (cheese plate) were the same for us. Each of the other courses was a different item for each of us. As usual, the pairings were spot on, and as usual, delicious.

Service was exceptional and we could not have been treated more warmly.

Say hi next time. :)

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To each their own Joe. I respect your opinion.

Much as I like Taberna, I find it to be somewhat dated and staid. I must admit the service is excellent and the food very good, just somewhat stuck in the past. Besides, I'm more into modern American cooking than I am Classic Spanish. I still go to Taverna, just not as often as I used to.

I like the basement feel of Cedar and I love the innovative cooking that is coming out of the kitchen. What I loved about them the most however, is the way they will work with me to tailor my meal to my wines. Every time I take wine to Taberna I feel like they are somewhat miffed that I didn't want to buy off their list.

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This is more of a vent post but under peer pressure from lunch with friends, I ordered a "Virginia peach" salad that had 4 thinly sliced peaches with a portion size that is HALF of a Chopt salad for $11 or $12. Needless to say, I left hungry and a bit irritated if it wasn't for the "Art of Video Games" exhibit nearby as a saving grace. I probably should try it again, but the ratio isn't tilting in this place's favor....

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Had the tasting menu last night with a couple of pleasant surprises: the first was two courses of dessert ( goat cheese mousse, not too sweet and served at a temperature that let the tang emerge; tropical fruit dessert with tres leches, a rice pudding with candied pineapple, and a tart sparkling juice). The second surprise was that, even though there were two very large parties, the pacing of our meal was not affected, and the staff didn't show the strain. Also, really liked the rabbit sausage.

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My son and three of his friends raided my cellar and took the results to Cedar for dinner. They let the Chef prepare a tasting menu to go with the wines as normally do. What resulted was a fantastic meal for them if their report is to be believed. What is also pleasing is that a group of four twenty somethings could go to a nice restaurant like Cedar and be treated so well. Too often younger patrons are treated like second class citizens because the staff things they won't tip well or for whatever reason. All four of them said the service was fantastic, the chef took the time to come out and explain each course (7 courses I believe) and they were never rushed or made to feel that they did not belong. They were greeted warmly and everyone from the GM to the bus staff went out of their way to ensure that they had a fantastic meal.

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Popped in at Cedar over the weekend.  It was between brunch and dinner and definitely off hours.  I had been there off and on over the last few years and enjoyed it immensely.  Of note, one of its former highlights is no more:  Matt the bartender moved out of the area about 6 months ago.  He was skilled, pleasant, helpful and designed some terrific cocktails.   I'm not happy having  to reference that website that rhymes with shmelp but one can find Matt's name referenced and applauded quite a bit in the various Cedar reviews.

I hope they are discerning and come up with somebody similarly talented.

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On 7/13/2015 at 0:28 PM, Genevieve said:

Never made it to Cedar while Chef McCloud was there, but we're going tonight, so I hope the replacement is good.  Will report back.

Well, Cedar's website doesn't list a chef that I could find, so they may be using an interim chef right now.  If so, I'm not likely to go back to Cedar until they get a replacement chef - we weren't that happy with our meal last night, and there are plenty of other good options in the area.

There were a bunch of service issues, including not being brought a second plate for sharing (either appetizer or dessert) despite the fact that I specifically requested one when placing the order, both times.

I'll give them a plus for having good mocktails, though they don't list them on the website, annoyingly, so I can't tell you what they were, besides the one I had - a V Red Burro, which was blackberry puree, ginger beer, honey, and lime.  It came in a huge glass and was delicious, tasting very much of blackberry.

We shared an appetizer: warm wild mushroom and goat cheese salad (crispy chevre, arugula, pine nuts, brandied vinaigrette).  Because they didn't bring the extra plate and it was awkward to put in the middle of the table, we waited till the extra plate came, by which time the crispy goat cheese was no longer very warm.  The mushrooms were very tasty, though there wasn't much finesse in the plating (there was one gigantic intact one, about 10 times the size of the others, and all the rest were chopped fairly small; the goat cheese fritter was buried under the arugula).  

I had pan roasted rockfish (Himalayan red rice, pickled fennel, apple, Pernod butter sauce). The rockfish was good (though there were more bones than I remember when I've previously had rockfish - I think it's usually been boned), with a nice crust on top.  The red rice was good, but overwhelmed by the large amount of butter sauce - it would have been much better without.  The slivers of apple were a good contrast but the pickled fennel wasn't a particularly good part of the dish - it just didn't seem to go with the other ingredients that well.

My dining companion had duck (roasted breast, confit rillettes, turnips, baby carrots), and she didn't like it much.  The duck was all either overcooked or undercooked, in her opinion, and the rillettes were not appealing - just a brown lump in the middle of the plate that didn't taste particularly good.  She got the sauce on the side and didn't use it - it didn't seem like it would have improved matters if she'd had it on top as intended.  She ate the vegetables and a little of the duck (which was hard to cut with the regular knife provided - it needed a steak knife) and left the rest behind.

We ended with the coconut tres leches cake (guava sauce, sorbet).  The sorbet had many small chunks of ice crystals in it, rather than being smooth.  The cake was moist, but had no coconut flavor other than the shredded coconut on top.  The guava sauce was nice.

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The menu looks the same as it did last year. If they haven't changed chefs since I had a quite disappointing meal there last year, I would think it might be worth downgrading on the dining guide.

Edit: I've had much better meals (consistently) at China Chilcano and Oyamel, for example, which are below Cedar on the dining guide. Cedar has this comment on the dining guide, " The "sleeper" restaurant in Penn Quarter, Cedar deserves more recognition than it gets, seasonal cooking that integrates vegetables very nicely", which based on the meal I had is no longer justified, though admittedly I only went once so my view is based on one visit and two people's opinions.

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10 hours ago, Genevieve said:

The menu looks the same as it did last year. If they haven't changed chefs since I had a quite disappointing meal there last year, I would think it might be worth downgrading on the dining guide.

Edit: I've had much better meals (consistently) at China Chilcano and Oyamel, for example, which are below Cedar on the dining guide. Cedar has this comment on the dining guide, " The "sleeper" restaurant in Penn Quarter, Cedar deserves more recognition than it gets, seasonal cooking that integrates vegetables very nicely", which based on the meal I had is no longer justified, though admittedly I only went once so my view is based on one visit and two people's opinions.

You're most likely correct - Aaron McCloud was propping up this "little restaurant that could" for quite awhile, and I still don't know who took his place. It's a shame, because Cedar really was a sleeper, considering its location.

BTW, when Cedar lost Aaron, I downgraded them to #10 in Penn Quarter - I kept them Italic because I didn't want to go overboard while they were chef-hunting - so it's not exactly like they're highly rated. Still, what you say resonates with me, and I'm listening with open ears.

Anyone else? 

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The Dirty Mojito Still Rocks

and some other notes

Stopped by Cedar this past week.  Its a restaurant I've visited off and on since about 1 year after it opened.  The first visit was suggested by a friend/bartender/cocktail geek who wrote an article on our barschool blog about mojito's. ( Its oriented toward bartenders/barschool students but really is for everyone; a darned good thorough review of mojito's, their history, how to make them, present them, a test of various methodologies to produce an optimal version).  it also references his and his fellow testers' notions on a "then best mojito/alternative mojito"in DC at the time.  (late 2010/early 2011).  Their choice--The Dirty Mojito at Cedar.  A mixture of Irish Whiskey, mint (of course) lemon, HONEY (the secret ingredient) soda water, etc.  We're updating/cleaning/ reproducing this website and while reviewing that article I thought it time for a visit.

That cocktail still does the trick.  Its been referenced in the media over the years here and here.   Its the same light flavored honey I remembered from my first experience.  Admittedly among the various tastes I enjoy are well made drinks with proper splashes of honey syrup and this version with this honey from a West Virginia farm still favors this drink.  While I also favor strongly flavored drinks, this cocktail personifies "balanced".

A nice visit with some ups and downs.  The visit was inspired due to a need to update the content on that website.  I hit the restaurant early for the bar menu.  On the plus side--the staff at Cedar is exemplary.  Over the years I've found that to be one of its endearing blessings.  They hire good people.  On this visit I got to speak with the owner/operator on site.  Very nice person.  We reviewed old industry stories.  I also got to meet some staff including of course the current bartender, Ben, who has been manning that bar since its original craft mixologist/bartender extraordinaire, Matt Perkins moved out of town.  I also interacted with some obviously excellent servers, including Lauren, who gets some name acclaim among its varied reviews across the web.

On the lesser side I'd shy away from the bar menu burger/fries combo.  Simply there are far better burgers for the price in this town, and their version of thin fries could be far crispier.   But based on past visits friends, co/diners and I found the mains to be very well prepared.--I'd suggest that is where Cedar shines--that and a pre theater dinner for the mid town shows.

On a side note, I learned that Matt, who was a proficient and well regarded bartender/mixologist in DC around 2009-2012 now is behind the rail at Magnolias at the Mill in Purcellville, owned by the Tuskies Group which includes Fireworks in Arlington and Leesburg, and Tuscarora Mill in Leesburg.   Matt just redesigned the cocktail menu at Fireworks Arlington.  Now that alone is enough information for me to try the specialty cocktail offerings in Arlington. 

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On 7/6/2016 at 4:35 PM, DonRocks said:

You're most likely correct - Aaron McCloud was propping up this "little restaurant that could" for quite awhile, and I still don't know who took his place. It's a shame, because Cedar really was a sleeper, considering its location.

BTW, when Cedar lost Aaron, I downgraded them to #10 in Penn Quarter - I kept them Italic because I didn't want to go overboard while they were chef-hunting - so it's not exactly like they're highly rated. Still, what you say resonates with me, and I'm listening with open ears.

Anyone else? 

Ugh.

Mar 6, 2017 - "Devastatingly Sad News - Chef Aaron McCloud Passes Away at Age 38" on donrockwell.com

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