Owning a restaurant is a full-time job so, although the idea of multiple locations is an interesting proposition for a restaurateur, it is often not feasible. However, when the opportunity to purchase a second, established location in the area is presented, it’s at least worth mulling over. When that business proposition excites a few other people, it becomes that much more doable.

Recently the restaurant, bar and event space at The Cedars on Salmon Creek in Brush Prairie has undergone a revitalization and emerged as Chelatchie Crossing at The Cedars. The Cedars opened in 1975 and the bucolic setting is a golfer’s paradise. The new owners look forward to sharing one of Clark County’s best-kept secrets with their barbecue-inspired menu specially designed for the Chelatchie Crossing Smokehouse and Saloon.

On a recent visit, my husband and I were treated to a cozy table in front of their brick surround, 60-inch gas fireplace. A variety of tables are set up for couples and groups including two live-edge bar-height tables, and more seating is available along the bar that greets diners as they walk in. The warmer weather to come will take front and center at the wall of windows that look out onto patio seating and an 18-hole golf course.

Russell Brent, owner of Mill Creek Pub in Battle Ground, has spent the last six and a half years building and growing a community-focused restaurant and has found kindred spirits in Clark County councilwoman, Julie Olson, IT consultant, Victor Jurgens and his wife, DeeAnn Jurgens, who brings years of experience working with non-profit organizations on both the national and international level.

In particular, Brent is known for his respect of the historical significance and landmarks that shape North County. Just as he has incorporated features like a replica of the bridge at the entrance to the Cedar Creek Grist Mill, a working water wheel and reclaimed timbers from area buildings into Mill Creek Pub, he wants to respect the bones of The Cedars and the neighborhoods that surround the course while giving the décor, menu and adult beverages a reboot.

April 6 saw the Grand Opening of Chelatchie Crossing at The Cedars and now guests can enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner Wednesday through Sunday. It’s a meat-heavy focus drawing ample influence from the 12-foot, locally-made smoker out back. Executive chef Rob Sanders and his sous chef, Uli Ramos, deftly preside over the racks, turning out smoked meatloaf, ribs, chicken, brisket, tri-tip, pulled pork, and salmon.

Not to be left out, vegetarians will find grilled smokehouse vegetables, a vegan chili that is substantial enough for carnivores and a couple hearty salads. Ramos also has a selection of vegetarian soups that he adds to the rotation. Chef Rob emphasized that they are working in a from-scratch kitchen from the rubs and dips to the coleslaw and loaded potato salad on up to the well-portioned entrées.

Olson, a former owner of a Vancouver wine shop, is excited to build an approachable and broader wine list than some other area restaurants offer by working with a selection of California producers as well as eastern Washington vintners like Desert Wind Winery, Tamarack Cellars, and Waterbrook Winery. She is also in talks to bring in keg wines. Keg wines are a great way for establishments to consider higher quality wines since the price point is made friendlier due to the savings of packaging costs and waste at the bar.

On the cocktail side, Eric Ulrich brought his craft skills from McMenamins Edgefield, Tommy O’s and 1220 Main. Chelatchie Crossing is stressing vintage and he’s excited to add his twist to such classics as the Old Fashioned, Manhattan, Sazerac and Corpse Reviver. Ulrich’s professed beer geek status comes in handy at the 16 rotating beer taps. Customers can keep tabs on the taps with the Untapped app (say that 10 times fast) and employ another interesting twist when their newly-found ale love begins to dwindle.

Chelatchie Crossing is the proud owner of an Oktober Canseamer which allows any brew to be poured from the tap into 16-ounce aluminum cans and sealed in a perfect state of beer bliss nearly indefinitely. According to Brent and Olson, customers are loving the option of on-tap to-go in a fresh, light and recyclable way.

Ingredients for the menu at Chelatchie Crossing are procured in the same locally-minded way Brent sources for Mill Creek, the atmosphere has a convivial spirit and the location is hands- down just a gorgeous spot for any time of the day. This foursome has taken a slightly tired and underutilized clubhouse and sunk a hole-in-one.

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