Bakery and Restaurant
By Scott Millsop
Lebanese Cuisine at Cedarland
It’s a little unfair in the adventure of Ethnosh to include Mediterranean foods. With Ethnosh we indulge in unusual flavors and textures. We get tastes of Ethiopia and southern states of Mexico, treats from Chennai in South India, and it’s all a greatly alluring happening for foodies and stay at home travelers. Greek food and Mediterranean diets are much more familiar of course, and we have to confess that Mediterranean food is something we look forward to. It’s so thoroughly good that it’s easy to understand why that school of cuisine has conquered the world.
The anticipation is already mouth-watering for the NoshUp at Cedarland Bakery and Restaurant. It’s a quiet spot in the East/West rush of Linden Avenue east of Woodman Drive in a stretch that runs parallel to US 35.
Photos by Bobby Tewksbury
The regulars drive right to it without a problem. They have for nearly 20 years. Meanwhile us noshers will need to slow down and pay attention to find it. But slowing down and paying attention is very much the point of Ethnosh and the enjoyment of food.
Inside the restaurant, things start to seem familiar. Spicy aromas are tantalizing, the art and décor is a celebration of something regional and far away, the talk in the kitchen is in a language other than English, the pastries on display are mysterious and alluring. The kitchen is visible from the counter and two vertical rotisseries are on prominent display, with chicken and beef turning and juices sinking in. It is iconic and will seem very familiar to gyros fans, but this is not gyros. Cedarland is all about Lebanese cuisine. The meats on the rotisseries and hand stacked and seasoned in house.Most of the gyros products you’ll find in Greek restaurants are premade by large suppliers. At Cedarland it’s all homemade. It’s called shwarma and it is terrific.
It's fun in America to compare styles of barbecue (Or BBQ, or Bar BQ). There is a little of that regional competition among Mediterranean foods. Where Greek food has a yogurt based Taziki sauce, Lebanese features Tahini sauce which is a non-dairy sesame seed paste. And just like varieties of barbecue, it’s all good.
Vegetarians might prefer the Baba Ganouch, and nearly everyone will like this roasted eggplant, lemon, garlic, sumac and Tahini. Another vegetarian delight is Falafel, made delicious from chick peas with spices.
George Daoud is the new generation of owner at Cedarland. He’s the son of Claire Daoud who came from Lebanon in1978, during a troubled time. There are immigrant tales of hard work, struggle and success beginning in another sort of business. Import Engine was a car repair shop on Brown Street that was owned by George’s father. The Daouds are entrepreneurs. There’s a family theme at work too. Dad went home to visit Lebanon and that’s where he met Claire. Their son George went to visit Lebanon and he met Linda there. They currently run the restaurant.
Cedarland opened in 2005 and George is quick to credit his mother for the authenticity of the food and dedication to proper preparation. Claire decided to retire five years ago, so George and Linda took over. Like so many small restaurants, they barely survived the Covid 19 era, but business is good now. There is a big room for private parties and the party platters like we will have for Ethnosh are a fine foodie experience. As usual, it is the small touches that take the experience to the next level. Pickles, turnips, onion, and garlic garnishes tantalize from the start. There are traditional pies, small pies, with luscious spices and oils. There are several varieties. This is a good moment to indulge your curiosity. Of course, there is one more thing.
One very important thing. Just one word: Baklava