Visiting a restaurant when it first opens and then two years later can make a world of difference. The first time I set foot in Cedar Restaurant, I wasn’t sure the restaurant would last two full seasons in the downtown DC restaurant scene. Tucked underground between 8th and 9th on E street (NW), the restaurant offers a serene atmosphere from the hustle and bustle of the downtown scene. A place for Cap’s fans to gather before games and a place to book your next business lunch, Cedar had all the ideal qualities except for its menu. Now a couple years later, I walked back in for another bite and was pleased to find an upgraded selection.
A long way from the lackluster soft shell crab sandwich, Cedar has added a Lobster & White Chocolate soup to give diners a new way to think about seafood pairings. Savory and sweet meet in a creamy bowl filled with chunks of lobster and a hint of white chocolate. Staying in line with the premise behind Cedar, a day in the great outdoors, the entrees are filled with venison, elk sausage and braised Texas wild boar. The elk sausage piqued my interest especially where I have yet to find it on another menu while dining in DC.
Chef Aaron McCloud leads the new era of the Cedar kitchen and he has certainly done an amazing job of incorporating the restaurant theme into the menu. Chef McCloud’s focus has been to keep the menu innovative and local, which is why Thursday’s menu is always a coin toss. On Thursday’s Chef McCloud simply goes next door to the Penn Quarter farmers market and picks out what will be Cedar’s special of the day (*Talk about fresh food…). Seeing restaurants use local ideas like this makes me excited to eat out all over again. I congratulate Cedar on the new menu’s facelift; it will certainly give them years of youth in this restaurant scene.