Cedar, which has been open since 2009, recently welcomed the addition of Chef Aaron McCloud to its kitchen last year. McCloud, who left the Inn at Perry Cabin for the Penn Quarter restaurant, has revived Cedar and its focus on “field and stream” cuisine. Rachel and I were invited to try McCloud’s cooking a few weeks ago, so we were curious to check out the game-animal focused menu. (Full disclosure — this meal was provided by the restaurant).
Should you opt for a cocktail from the bar, I highly recommend the Presidential Pardon. Featuring applejack whiskey, apple cider, honey, and bitters, it was a refreshing libation before the amuse bouche of seared tuna arrived. Rachel ordered the Ideal Husband, which the waitress said was a signature drink and was actually based on a play that was shown recently right down the street from the restaurant. It was fruity but wasn’t too sweet, and great for a warm early spring evening.
Cedar puts an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients, but Chef McCloud takes things one step further by curing and smoking all his meats in-house as well. The freshness was highly evident after tasting their beets and bleu cheese salad. Featuring baby greens and pickled onions, this was one of the better beet salads I have come across in the District.
Not to be outdone, Rachel opted for one of Cedar’s most famous appetizers, the lobster and white chocolate soup which featured roasted baby vegetables.
For our entrees, the mocha Cervena venison caught my eye, and considering how infrequently I actually order venison, I went with my gut and ordered it. Topped with parsnips and accompanied with roasted garlic croquettes, the espresso jus gave the dish a subtle hint of coffee without overpowering the meat. Cooked medium rare, the venison was slightly dry, but such is the case when cooking with such a lean protein.
Rachel ordered the saffron oil poached salmon. Prepared with artichoke, pequillo pepper, olive custard, and picked fennel, the dish was artfully arranged.
Just like everything else at Cedar, the desserts are prepared in-house. We got to try a trio of confections, from the chocolate peanut butter praline with candied peanuts and chocolate ice cream to the Cherry Glen goat cheese mousse to McCloud’s creative take of key lime pie (a citrusy, refreshing panna cotta).
The 55-seat restaurant is one of the more intimate dining rooms we have encountered, and considering that the First Lady recently dined here, it’s no wonder Cedar has been picking up some buzz as of late.
Cedar is located at 822 E Street NW in the Penn Quarter neighborhood of Washington, DC.