The C Word

No, not that one. I'm talking about Champagne. Or, rather, the lack of it. Picture it: Cedar Creek Inn, Brea, Valentine's Day dinner. I was already mentally black-marking the restaurant for informing me just the day before, when confirming the reservation, that there was a "strict two-hour table time limit." My irritation was heightened further when we arrived, bang on time, only to be told there was a 20-minute waiting time. Gee, maybe that strict time limit wasn't so strict after all. (As it turned out, we only had to wait five minutes.)

In any case, I thought, as I settled into the comfy booth with my significant other, admiring the upscale dining room and breathing a sigh of contentment, a nice glass of Champagne will calm me down.

But it was not to be.

The interaction with the waitress went something like this:
Me: Do you have a wine list?
Waitress: Yes, it's there--on the table.
Me (confused). Oh, this--you mean the wines by the glass and cocktail list?
Waitress: Yes.
Time to cut to the chase. I asked if they had Champagne. Another look of confusion--this time from her. OK, how about Champagne by the glass? Surely, if they offered wines by the glass, this wasn't such a stretch?

Turns out they did indeed have splits of Champagne. Fine. After all, I didn't want to get loaded--all I needed was a few bubbles on the tongue and to feel a hint of glamour, excitement and, dare I say it, romance--all the things that come with drinking Champagne on Valentine's Day.

Sadly, reality came crashing down. What turned up wasn't a mini bottle of real Champagne, but Domaine Chandon. Now, call me fussy, but that's not the proper stuff. It's nice. It's fizzy. It does indeed have nutty flavors with hints of brioche that build to a refreshing dry finish--as per the website. But it's made in Northern California, not France.

It wasn't--let me point out, dear reader--the very stuff that stared out at us from display cabinets mere feet from our table.

I felt like I'd stumbled into the Monty Python cheese shop sketch. ("Champagne? In a posh restaurant? On Valentine's Day? There's not much call for it, madam").

Today I turned to the website today to see if I was missing something. Okay, the restaurant's tagline is "Food, Spirits, Ambiance"--no mention of wine or Champagne there. But there are links (which don't work) to wine lists. And I've heard friends talk of how good Cedar Creek's wine selection is.

A phone call to the restaurant cleared things up. Turns out I hadn't missed a thing. I was correct. It was Valentine's Day so they decided to restrict the menu to wines by the glass, and no Champagne. (Unless you count Chandon. Which I don't.)

It's about as crazy as Denny's deciding to take the sliced turkey dinner off the menu as turkey's just not that popular any more. Oh, wait a minute. They did. But that's another story, for another day.

Cedar Creek Inn, 20 Pointe Dr., Brea, (714) 255-5600;


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