Cedar, located in Penn Quarter, hopes to "recreate a fresh-air feeling from enjoying nature's wild beauty." Lead by Chef Aaron McCloud, the restaurant serves "a contemporary take on country fare: roasts, game, sausages, salmon, trout, forest forage-berries, mushrooms, herbs, greens, and smoke. Using the freshest of seasonal ingredients prepared thoughtfully and with great care, to remind us of the bounty of the great outdoors, the experience is further amplified by the lush rustic interior design." The website describes: "Classical French technique meets ingredient driven sensibility to create contemporary American cuisine with natural, clean flavors and vibrant presentations that highlight the expressions of the seasons." Closest Metro is Archives - Navy Memorial.
|Photo via Cedar website|
For my first course, I chose one of the chef's most popular dishes - the Lobster and White Chocolate Soup with roasted baby vegetables. I thought the chocolate atop the lobster would be too sweet, but surprisingly they worked well together. The soup was luxurious akin to other bisques, and paired well with the dry chardonnay. Keith started with the Stew of Chesapeake Oysters and Andouille Sausage with roasted peppers, braised greens, and pearl onions. His stew had a bit of spice to it, came with a piece of grilled bread, and was paired with a sweeter viognier. We both enjoyed our appetizers and felt the meal was off to a great start.
For my main course, I went the vegetarian route and chose the Tart of Wild Mushrooms. This filling dish was served with red quinoa ragout, hedgehog mushrooms, grilled royal trumpets, and roasted carrot puree. I liked the touch of sweetness from the carrot puree, which brightened up the earthy dish. It was paired with a Californian merlot that had lots of sweet berry notes. Keith ate the Merino Leg of Lamb with grilled radicchio, winter beans, sundried tomatoes, and an herb lamb jus. The meat was slightly overcooked and the beans were undercooked, but overall had good flavor and was a comforting dish for winter. His entree was paired with a full bodied French bordeaux.
To close the meal, I ate the Passion Fruit Panna Cotta for dessert. Topped with dried papaya and guava pieces, and served with a mango sorbet, the dish was lovely - both to look at, and in taste. I loved the bright orange colors and it was paired with an equally sweet elderflower champagne cocktail. Keith enjoyed the Sticky Toffee Cake with poached dates, spiced caramel, and a vanilla cream cheese. His dessert was expertly paired with a stout beer that worked so well with the toffee.
The menu and decor was typical of a "hotel restaurant," but not in a negative way. In fact, though hidden downstairs, the restaurant is still ever popular in the neighborhood with brunch and pre-theater dinner offerings. This was evidenced by the packed dining room by the time we ended around 7:30pm. The owner, Mikias, was very friendly and came by our table a few times to check in and see how we were doing. Overall, we had a splendid meal that flowed effortlessly between courses and was elevated by the wine pairings.
Total Rating: 3.9
Food: 4, Price: 3.5, Service: 4, Ambience: 3.5, Accessibility: 5
What I ate:
Lobster and White Chocolate Soup
roasted baby vegetables
Tart of Wild Mushrooms
red quinoa ragout, hedgehog mushrooms, grilled royal trumpets, roasted carrot puree
Passion Fruit Panna Cotta
dried papaya, guava, mango sorbet
Plus Keith ate:
Stew of Chesapeake Oysters and Andouille Sausage
Merino Leg of Lamb
grilled radicchio, winter beans, sundried tomatoes, herb lamb jus
Sticky Toffee Cake
poached dates, spiced caramel, vanilla cream cheese