IF COUNTRYSIDE Village is "a small town in the city," as the old advertising slogan goes, then Cedar is the prototypical "diner on the corner," the kind immortalized in Edward Hopper's Nighthawks — able to blend into the surrounding landscape while also standing as a beacon in the night.

On the Saturday I visited, it was cold, slightly damp and generally inhospitable outside. Inside, with the glow provided by the muted TV and the sprinkling of people enveloped in their own thoughts or conversations, there radiated a welcoming warmth.

Befitting Cedar's role as a comfortable neighborhood lounge, its menu isn't weighed down by any one type of beverage but is impressively varied. The variety of locales from which some of the selections are sourced is equally impressive. There are wines from Chile and Spain, cider from England and beers from the Czech Republic and even Thailand.

Divorcing myself from the cold outside required a warm, vibrant solution. I could think of nothing more fitting at the moment than red wine. The Honoro Vera Monastrell is one of the two featured reds on the menu from Spain. Also known as mourvedre, the grape fairs well in the hot, arid climate of southeastern Spain but has also been grown in France, Australia and Washington State. Naturally the style of wine produced varies depending on the region, but in general, the wines are noted for their subtle flavors of red fruit and earthy/ gamey notes. Such was the case here, with a smooth and slightly tangy finish that's sure to please.

Something different, something that speaks to sunshine and springtime, was the Pacific Coast Hard Apple Cider. A blend of six apples (Granny Smith, Fuji, Red Delicious, Gala and Golden Russet) produces a pleasant aroma and a smooth taste punctuated by flavors of citrus. I didn't find it dry by any stretch, but at the same time, it didn't strike me as sweet as Angry Orchard or some of its other commercial counterparts.

If you're looking for something new, you would do well to try Chang. A Thai lager on a list populated predominantly by North American and European beers stands out enough on its own, but when the bartender told me that it's one of their more popular selections, I had to try it. After a few sips, it was easy for me to see why. It comes across with a smooth, crisp taste with a slightly sweet finish. I could see myself reaching for one on a warm, muggy day.

With its varied menu and simple, low-key ambiance, Cedar will make you feel right at home. It's a welcome addition to a retail development that has long needed such an establishment.


Where: 8726 Countryside Plaza

When: 3 p.m. to close Sunday through Frida, noon to close Saturday

Info: cedaromaha.com or 402-933-7143

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