May 29, 2013
by Katelyn (new kid on the veggie block)
Remember my friend Mike? My friend who always has the best vegan free dining recs, like Thai X-ing and Zentan? Well, he came through again with what may be his best suggestion yet: Cedar in Penn Quarter.
Last Thursday night, we went to dinner so I could experience their dedicated vegan menu. From start to finish, it was really one outstanding meal. And the start, of course, being a cocktail. The menu lists 9 signature drinks, with the 9th being a rotating ‘bartender’s choice’ concoction. It’s a pretty neat way for them to try new drinks and allow the bartender to flex his mixing muscles. As interesting as it sounded, I stuck with my one true love though: vodka. The Ideal Husband is made with gluten-free vodka and a passion fruit puree. It was sweet without being tart and definitely strong but smooth.
While we looked over the menu, our waiter brought out some bread for the table. Their standard table bread is vegan (which is wonderful), but I was truly impressed when she brought out a gluten-free version for me.
To be able to enjoy some fresh baked bread, in a restaurant, and not at home ordered over the internet, was truly a treat.
Unless you’re vegan and gluten-free, you may not fully understand what a big deal this is. I’m definitely a carboholic and it’s taken years to get over the fact I just can’t enjoy a good bread basket anymore. This experience may have sent me back to square one. It was awesome! A little heavy like gluten-free breads tend to be, but very soft and not too chewy, it was instant love. The recipe is their own, and while I couldn’t eek out too many details or measurements, the manager was happy to share that they use a Caputo gluten-free flour mix and add garlic and sage for a savory flavor.
I was persuaded to try both starters because I would get “help” in eating them, so I had some of both the Roasted Beets and Black Mission Figs salad as well as the Red Quinoa salad.
The base of the beet and fig salad was arugula, garnished with endives and pickled onions. It was light and refreshing, and as you can see, there was plenty to go around.
The red quinoa was shaped into a little cake and dressed with some pickled vegetables and a caraway crisp. It was definitely tasty, but being a huge fan of both arugula and figs, I think the first salad was the true winner for me.
For my main course, I decided to try the Grilled Royal Trumpet Mushrooms. When it was brought to the table, I couldn’t get over how pretty it was!
The center was a truffled white bean puree, topped with chard and surrounded by parsnips, heirloom carrots and fiddlehead ferns. The bean puree was the perfect texture – creamy while still giving you something to bite into. The mushrooms and fiddleheads were my favorite part of the dish, both were full of flavor and grilled to perfection.
Last, but not least, we had to get some dessert. While sorbet is a pretty standard vegan dessert at many restaurants, Cedar kicks it up a notch with not only their delicious assortment of flavors, but by making it in-house.
Coconut, Berry and Pear
My favorite was the coconut, the flavor was extremely on point: it tasted just like the meat of a fresh coconut. It was also really creamy and not too sweet. I was told that the pastry chef is working on a vegan mousse, but it wasn’t quite ready yet. Fingers crossed it’s available next time I go in!
It’s always impressive when a non-veg restaurant tackles a vegan menu, but to do so from scratch (aka not relying on Gardein to do the heavy lifting), and succeed with flying colors, Cedar has really knocked it out of the park. I want to thank the Executive Chef, Aaron McCloud for such an amazing experience!