Cedar Crossing: A bar review

Okay, fine, now I feel compelled to balance out my hateful review of 8047, thanks to that post’s impassioned commenter.  Though my mental image of the person who wrote that comment is of a villain from an episode of Columbo.  You know the type: The wealthy, arrogant brother-in-law with the goatee who’s always dressed like he’s going out to play tennis and kills unnecessarily over some vague inheritance issue.

I also received a couple of brief emails, which were from intelligent people, and all argued the same thing: It was 8047’s opening night.  Give them a break. Then it hit me: That’s the problem with Silver Spring.  That’s why Silver Spring is, actually, a minefield when it comes to bars and dining.  It’s because the bad places are supported by transplants, ex-rubes, and neo-yuppies who, apparently, were either born in barns or without taste buds.

So let’s compare! New restaurants.  We’ll go now to Takoma Park’s Cedar Crossing,  which opened in November in the space once occupied (and still, weirdly) by that frilly idiotic hippie granola shop that made me want to cross the street in horror.  But, hey, that’s Takoma Park.

The shop has now been pushed into a corner and, with appallingly limited space, Cedar Crossing has squeezed in a few dining tables and a tiny bar.

At first glance, your heart sinks.  It’s the type of yuppie bar with limited hours that turns normal people away.  But ignore that first impression.  Peel away that fruitiness, and Cedar Crossing may just be the best new bar in the area.  If you can get to the bar.

Our engaging bartender sold us on the place right away, and talked us into weird cocktails that actually had a kick.  The selection on tap is, to say the least, eccentric.  None of the usual shit, and three Belgian selections – including Delirium Tremens.  All with happy hour prices to make my stingy wallet smile. In bottles, they have an impressive weird beer selection. I appreciate a place where the main feature isn’t $2 Miller Lite.  But, then, a real bar with a sense of competition knows how to do it.

My favorite happy hour feature, though, is the “pot luck” beer selection.  Under the counter, there’s a selection of microbrews and, for four bucks, you get one mystery bottle.  For twenty bucks, you get six of them.  Though the bar staff didn’t really embrace the fun of a mystery beer selection and kept asking me permission for each of their picks.  I encouraged them, next time, to surprise me.

Or…I think I did.  I don’t remember.

Food.  We got something daring for a DC joint that calls itself a “wine bar.” The shrimp salad wrap. It was amazing, as was the cheese plate.  The plates storming out of the crowded kitchen, where a harried chef was acting like he was on TV, looked incredible. Though I’ve been hearing complaints that their menu is also eccentric, and changes wildly.  Which, you know, is the mark of a good kitchen. So…shut up.

Best of all is the location.  Literally right next to the Takoma Metro station, across the street from what the old timers used to call the Stop & Shoot. Remember those days?  That was before Maryland started to lean conservative and Silver Spring looked like a set from a post-apocalypse movie.  (Which, maybe, argues for the idiot gentrifiers who so rattle my cage.)

For those looking to kill a Sunday, Cedar Crossing offers a brunch where, for $15, you get all you can drink Mimosas and Bloody Mary’s for three hours.  Amen.

The problem is the size.  If the bar is full up, then it’s posh seating with a waiter for you. Something I tend to avoid, and I imagine others do as well since the happy hour bar tends to be rocking while the table service remains empty, guarded by unhappy waiters.  I can’t help but wonder why they insist on keeping the remnants of the granola store in the far corner… Booze will sell better than designer teabags.

Equally troublesome is that the posh seating presents a somewhat wild obstacle course between the bar and the toilets.  So lunatics with bellies full of strong beer are clawing, hopping, and shuffling between tables full of frightened families and snooty fucks.  Again, getting rid of the store and moving the fancy people over to the opposite corner would be a wiser choice.

So get there early for happy hour, grab a stool and put your flag down. And, for those in the know, this is the sort of neighborhood joint that appreciates regulars.