4759 Brooklyn Ave. NE
Seattle WA 98105
It's no sleep till Brooklyn, in the U District
By: Steve G
Sitting on the corner of NE 50th St and Brooklyn Ave NE, is a restaurant that most people would overlook with its dilapidated wood roof, worn out fasade and 1980s style sign made with clip art from Microsoft Works that simply says "Cedars". It is not visually impressive by any stretch of the imagination, but if you overlook these minor cosmetic issues you'll discover that Cedars offers some of the best Indian food in the Seattle area.
As you go up the carpeted stairs, you'll pass by a few outdoor heating lamps, suggesting that Cedars opens up the patio for outdoor dining in the summer and spring. During the dinner hours, Cedars is usually packed with a wide variety of students and locals, so expect a decent wait before getting to your table.
Grant ordered up the Tandoori Surprise ($12.95), as he was curious how Tandoori lamb and fish would measure up to the standard chicken. I went with the Butter Chicken ($8.95) which is a favorite of many people I talked to who have eaten at Cedars. For appetizers, we went with the Beef Samosa ($3.95) and Cedars Nan ($3.95).
The samosa basically consists of pastries that are packed with either a choice of beef or mixed vegetables. We opted for the beef, mainly due to my carnivorous ways and we were not disappointed. Portion wise, some people might complain with only two pieces, but at $3.95 it's a reasonable amount to pay. Each piece was steaming hot on the plate, so you might want to wait a few minutes before digging into it. The seasoned meat had a nice kick of flavor to it: a little spicy, but not scorching hot. The dipping sauce they give you has a few sweet flavor notes and should probably be used in small amounts unless you have a big sweet tooth.
The Cedars Nan is stuffed with chicken, almonds, and herbs. It is easily heartier than those you would find at normal Indian buffet restaurants. The chicken was cooked Tandoori style which was a nice touch and the thickness of the nan made us feel like we were eating two pieces instead of one.
The Tandoori Surprise came with a wide assortment of meats. Chicken, lamb, beef and even fish were prepared in a charcoal fire that really retains a lot of the moisture in the meat. Each piece was coated in that signature deep red-orange marinate that is consists of marsala, garlic, ginger, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Grant noted that the lamb had more a sausage texture and taste that he wasn't too terribly fond of. It seemed to crumble apart as he dug deeper into it, making it a bit of a chore to enjoy. The chicken and beef were the top items on his plate as they sealed in a lot of the moisture and soaking up a lot of the marinade, making for a very tasty treat. Grant wasn't too fond of the fish, as it didn't work to well as a Tandoori dish in terms of texture and taste.
The butter chicken is a delectable dish, though its origins are deeply rooted in Western palettes. The English occupation spawned a variety of dishes as the Western stomachs couldn't take many of the spice heavy dishes of the India region. Regardless of this little foodie-note, Cedars still makes an impressive butter chicken. Each tender piece of chicken is soaked in the rich cream sauce spiced with a little ginger and garlic. If I had to sum up the dish in two words: very smooth. Combined with the basamati rice and the Cedars nan, it made for quite the dish. It's highly recommended.
The service at Cedars was fast and friendly, which was a huge change of pace from other Indian restaurants we've been too. Usually the staff seems a little disconnected and almost disgruntled at working the restaurant. At Cedars, we had the pleasure of a cheery waitress who took our orders fast and got all of the items to our table at high speeds.
Each dish is about $9-10 a plate during the lunch hours and a couple bucks more for dinner. Overall, Cedars gives some ample portions and the endless chai tea is a great deal. While it may look very old, Cedars has served up some consistent Indian for many years making it a great destination point in the U-District for those craving some authentic cuisine.