Cedar, 8th and E Street NW, Washington DC
We went out last Saturday 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 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 my son 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 we 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 my son 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 my wife
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. My son and I both agreed that it was fantastic.
To go with the Kosta Browne
For my wife, Cedar Roasted Salmon with barley, bacon and root vegetable risotto.
For son 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 artisianal 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.
For my son a Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Bar with candied hazelnuts and gianduja ice cream
For my wife 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 welcome 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.
Very good under-the-radar place, maybe because it is underground. Great business lunch too for downtown.
Wow, that's impressive on so many levels. Thanks for the review. I had a business lunch at Cedar a year or so ago - food and service were great. It definitely flies under the radar.
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.
Having attended this dinner with dinwiddie, I have to say that it was the best meal I have had in DC to date (disclaimer: I need to start hitting DC at least 1-2 times per week).
The courses here were impecable IMHO. I was a bit nervous with the chef's selection for the heirloom tomatoes with pinot noir, but it was spot on. I can't tell you how many times I have found tomatoes absolutely destroy a pinot noir. Definitely not the case here. This was amazing.
The foie gras was some of the best I've had on the East Coast, if not in the nation. Absolutely delicious, and a little piece of heaven. The Sea Smoke pinot however left a lot to be desired (and I am the one who brought it).
The chicken was easily some of the best, tasties chicken I have ever had. I will be sourcing chicken from this farm in the future for sure.
As for the Wagyu, what is there to say other than awesome! This was absolutely delicious!
Overall, every course was great, and the service from Chef McCloud and his staff was impecable! This made for a truly great evening, and a great dining experience. I will definitely be back in the future. Thanks again dinwiddie for setting this up! Cheers! -mJ