food: RW at Cedar
This will be a quickie as I didn’t bring my good camera and I don’t have much to say aside from: GO. Since DC Restaurant Week is in full-swing now, it may not be easy to get a table at Cedar or anyplace else, but give it a try if you’re able. My friend Steven was clever enough to make reservations at quite a few places early, counting on his friends to fill the seats once announced. Since I don’t get a night out often enough, I was happy to snag some spots at both familiar and unfamiliar places.
I arrived a bit early and waited at the bar. The interior is lovely, though completely below street level so no natural light. The warm-colored, polished wooden details & walls around the dining room enhance the subdued lighting. It isn’t as dark as “mood lighting” but just bright enough that diners can enjoy a little intimacy while anyone seated at the bar would enjoy clearly seeing their friends and appetizers. The barman Kyle was quite friendly*, even asking me what I usually drink before suggesting a cocktail. He told me that Cedar had only been around for about 3 months and they were hoping to cater to the more local crowd, those that actually live in the Gallery Place, Mount Vernon Square and Penn Quarter areas. He hoped it wouldn’t become a trendy flash in the pan but instead create an atmosphere that makes people want to be regulars.
Steven arrived shortly and we perused the RW menu after a bit of venting about our respective days. He sent me the menu earlier that day and it had me drooling before lunchtime, but once I saw other diners getting their dishes, I changed my mind about some choices. I’d planned on the Lobster entree, but seeing it at the table next to us, it looked a bit small and I’d taken it easy at lunch to make sure I had room. I opted for the Grilled Peach Salad, the Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin and the Semolina Custard Cigar for dessert. He ordered the Chilled Melon Soup, Filet Mignon and Chocolate Praline Crunch Bar. Sharing rules were in full effect and I can easily say there wasn’t a single disappointing dish. The steak was melt-in-your-mouth good and the pork amazingly tender and flavorful. But–and I don’t normally do this–I have to award the prize to the desserts, especially the praline crunch. When tasted in turn after the cherry compote and the sorbet, the slight bite of the chocolate creates something akin to a divine food experience. My custard wrapped in filo dough seemed muted until it mixed with the syrup and jam–heavenly!
The service was excellent and even for Restaurant Week, the portion size and selection was extremely satisfactory. I think Cedar would make a great option for date night or a slightly-above-casual dinner with friends. I couldn’t discern any happy hour type specials in the bar area, but they were serving both full dinners and appetizers to patrons in that part of the restaurant. The dining room was cozy but not tiny. I could easily see them getting fully booked on a weekend evening.
At last check via OpenTable.com, Cedar still has tables** available some evenings this week, so if you’re so inclined give it a chance! Or to repeat my one-word review: GO.
* I may have to return for another visit or two, methinks. 😉
** I only searched openings for parties of 2.