Thursday, June 4, 2009

Redwood Falling on Cedar

On a recent weekend, we drove to Bethesda to visit Redwood for Sunday brunch. While the "egg bar" seemed an ill-advised concept, confusing both patrons and staff alike with the over-glorified made-to-order omelet station concept, there were high notes. House-made lemonade made for a refreshing Arnold Palmer. The donuts (for which I have an admitted weakness) served with hot apple cider were scrumptious, especially after a thorough soaking. The bacon was smokin' (I couldn't resist) and the home fries were awesome. On the other hand, the biscuits were a bit dry, perhaps begging for the ham gravy or jalapeno jelly. With that mediocrity, I'm still inclined to return for dinner to give it another shot. Even if the food is a loser, the shopping at Bethesda Row is always intriguing.

A return trip, however, is not likely to be in store for Cedar, the new restaurant in Penn Quarter from Redwood's previous chef, Andrew Kitko. A mere steps from my husband's office building, we had hoped to grab a quick weekday lunch and return to work in a timely manner. We were disappointed, as were C's colleagues, seated across the room, a strange basement space. Things got off to a rough start when the waiter practically pouted when we ordered neither appetizers nor libations. Lunch folks, in a business district; is the disappointment truly warranted? My soft-shell crab sandwich was ho-hum, with a reasonably-executed fry on the crab (though I can get much better and cheaper at another favorite spot) and a savory remoulade. The sandwich, however, was served on slightly burnt white toast. That's the concept chef Kitko came up with for a dish served in the restaurant's first week? I say back to the drawing board. That and the sandwich was rather tea-sized, served with a few greens labeled as a salad, not particularly filling. That is to say, my stomach was still empty. C's burger and fries garnered neither complaint nor praise. They were acceptable. Because I was still hungry after my white bread sandwich, we chose to split the blueberry almond tart. It was the definitely the best course we tried, but with three bites apiece in the minuscule portion, we remained unsatisfied. The most disappointing parts of the experience were the multiple times our overly loquacious waiter asked if we enjoyed our food, we would respond with a smile through clenched teeth so that we could get on with our meal, and then he would respond, "the chef will be pleased". If you ask me, there's a little too much pleasing the chef, and not enough of the patron at Cedar. Worse yet, I broke the cardinal rule in dining by not airing my complaints, but at the pace things were proceeding, we were forced to question how long the ordeal might last. I guess my lack of return will have to speak for itself.