Cedar: More Than Just Fair Game
My latest dining discovery, Cedar (822 E Street, NW), located in the heart of Penn Quarter, is a contemporary, rustic American local favorite specializing in wild game fine dining in a modern upscale hunting lodge atmosphere, among scenery of nature’s wild beauty. Every dish is delicately prepared and well-executed by their new Executive Chef, Aaron McCloud, formerly with the Vintage Restaurant Group in Leesburg, VA.
After just 4 months at Cedar, McLoud is creating deliciously inventive dishes that leave you wondering why you never gave boar, bison, venison, elk, or quail a chance. The multi-talented McLoud started out as a young man performing as a professional violinist in restaurants, now in the kitchen transforming country fare such as roasts, game, sausages, salmon, mushrooms into contemporary masterpieces. Using the freshest of seasonal ingredients prepared thoughtfully and with great care, to remind us of the bounty of the great outdoors.
It was my first time dining at Cedar. Just last week the beautiful ladies of 4Bitten Media and I joined together to dine at Cedar. Since we were in the mood to celebrate our new venture, we ordered a few cocktails to start off our evening. I have to say that I was completely blown away by their amazing cocktails! I loved the Ideal Husband (yes that really is the name!) with Naked Vodka, and Passion Fruit Puree. It was sweet, but also tart. I absolutely loved it and commented that I could have one every day.
Even though I dine out often, I still try to eat healthy. I’ve been doing so well on my Healthy Inspirations meal plan that I didn’t want to blow all of my progress. For my first course, I ordered the, Artisan Greens Salad. While usually considered a boring choice to order a salad; it was quite refreshing with the Meyer lemon puree, sweet candied orange, pine nuts, and locally sourced goat cheese. It was the perfect combination of texture and flavors. I am tempted to ask Chef McLoud for the recipe. It’s a delightful spring dish!
I can honestly say that for the first time ever, I actually wanted every single dish on the menu. Usually there are more dishes that I have no interest in than feel would be appetizing — not this time. I wanted to try everything. It was difficult for me to narrow it down to one, but eventually decided on the Braised Texas Wild Boar with cardamom and carrot puree, toasted farro, and maple jus (pictured above right). Just as I had anticipated, the braised boar literally fell off of the bone. Like most braised meats, it was incredibly tender and juicy. I’m pretty certain that I’ve never eaten boar before, but the texture and flavor is very similar to a braised short rib. I was also able to sample the Grilled Elk Sausage with wild mushrooms, walnut puree, mustard ju, which is a bestseller at Cedar. It’s really what I wanted to order but everyone else ordered it, so it seemed ridiculous to me to have all four of us at the same dinner table to have the exact same dish. As I suspected, I loved the elk sausage. It tastes like a cross between … well it’s like nothing that I’ve ever tasted. It tastes gamey and earthy.
Even though I really had to business having a single bite of dessert after I indulged so much throughout dinner, I sampled nearly all of their desserts on their menu. Trust me, these made in-house delicacies will spoil you. The Carrot Layer Cake with bourbon sauce and caramel pecan ice cream was my favorite. The Coconut Tres Leches Cake with passion fruit sauce and pina colada sorbet was so good that one of my friends who will remain nameless (*cough Mary) ordered her own because she said she would refuse to share it with us. After sampling (not from her plate) it myself, I see why she was so possessive.
If you’re a brunch lover, you’d love their Saturday and Sunday brunch offerings. Their Brunch menu includes tempting choices such as the Braised Pork Belly BLT with fried egg, smoked tomato, basil aioli, Crab Cake Benedict on brioche with bearnaise, Smoked Salmon Benedict with potato cakes, poached eggs, caper hollandaise, and more! Added Bonus: Don’t worry about your parking while dining because Cedar provides a validation for the PMI lot (located on D Street between 8th & 9th Streets) for only $5.
I consider Cedar a true hidden gem. Many folks don’t know about it and if they do, they don’t want to tell anyone for fear that it will get out about how awesome it is and then it will be too busy for them to get a reservation. Don’t worry though. I’m not that selfish. Keep it in your hat for the next time that you’re going to the Verizon Center and you want something that won’t be jam packed with wildlings. Their bar bites menu is as soon as their dinner menu, and you already know my opinion about their cocktails — loved it! The bar bites menu includes items like the Braised Pork Belly BLT, Fried Oyster sandwich, Lobster Grilled Cheese and Duck Fat fried potatoes. Sounds heavenly, right?! When you go … tell them that Dining in DC sent ya! Couldn’t hurt. In fact, they might even treat you like a VIP. Ooops … apparently that’s how they treat all of their guests.