Cedar Knoll, seated on a crest along the GW Parkway that features a spectacularly unrivaled vantage point of the Potomac River, has been around for a long time. Originally a farm house and later reinvented as the Mount Vernon View Antique Shop, the building was repurposed in 1941 to serve as both an inn and a restaurant, offering a wonderful location near Mount Vernon Estate and a cool history to match: the land on which Cedar Knoll stands was once a part of George Washington’s River Farm.
Like many places that have been around for several decades, though, Cedar Knoll’s atmosphere and cuisine began to feel a bit tired and the quality of the food suffered, as well — until new ownership, led by the powerhouse former catering company owner Andrew Holden, took over in 2015 and completely rejuvenated the place with a new, locally-influenced menu, artistic presentation, and warm, attentive service. After many years of not living up to its potential, especially considering its prime location and charming history, Cedar Knoll has finally arrived.
The restaurant is open year-round for lunch, happy hour, dinner, and Sunday brunch. On a sunny day, sunlight streams into the Botanical Room and makes the already lovely views even better as the Potomac River sparkles from the sun’s reflection. Each of the three rooms offers a unique atmosphere, ranging from the Log Cabin with its stone fireplace and painting of George Washington, to the 19th century parlor feel of the Presidential Room, to the whitewashed walls of windows in the Botanical Room (the best spot for brunch).
The Tuna Tartare Niçoise and Cured Salmon Crostini are good choices to begin your brunch, setting the tone for a delicious meal in a restaurant where the menu is carefully designed to fit the location. For the main course, you can’t go wrong with the crab cake sandwich; it is divine and the English muffins are made in house. The Artichokes and Asparagus is a great option for vegetarians, complete with fried artichokes, champagne hollandaise, grilled asparagus, and poached eggs.
As for dinner, if you’re an oyster fan, start with the Rappahannock River oysters (the chef’s favorite) or the Fried Oysters Rockefeller; if you’re not, go for the Two Way Duck. Then choose the Rainbow Trout, the Ham-Cured Pork Tenderloin, or the Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes.
Whatever you do, do not miss the Lemon Ginger Semolina Cake! Made with olive oil, semolina flour, lemony frosting, and candied ginger, it is dense but not overly sweet and the perfect way to end a fantastic meal. If you’re not convinced yet, try it because it’s Phyllis’s favorite and she said so!
Cedar Knoll is located at 9030 Lucia Lane along the GW Parkway.