Monday, August 15, 2005
Gay Paris, Ce N'est Pas: La Creperie Cafe, Long Beach
(Whatchu smiling at, asshole?)
Someone please explain something to me.
What is the appeal of spending a weekend morning waiting an excruciating amount of time for a table at brunch?
I have rules for a pleasant Sunday afternoon which are simply to relax, unwind and spend quality time with friends and loved ones. After all, it's back to the stressful grind the day after, right? So there are certain things I try to keep in mind in achieving Sunday satisfaction.
1. Avoid crowds and long waits.
Seeing the huge crowd outside of La Creperie Cafe in Long Beach's Belmont Shores area, I would have normally turned around and walked away. But Isaac and I had already made brunch plans with a friend, so we decided to stick it out. Our friend had tried making reservations earlier but found out that they don't take them. Yeah, of course they don't. They want a crowd of people outside to show passers-by, "Hey! Look how popular we are! We know you wanna do what everyone else is doing and eat here too!" I think I was in denial when I approached the sorority-girl looking hostess at the podium thinking that maybe the wait would only be 10 or 15 minutes; nope, 30-45 she said. Then sorority girl hostess wrote only our party size down without my name when she was sidetracked by other conversations. I stared at her but she didn't notice. I kept staring. Finally she made eye contact. "Uh, are you ever gonna write my NAME down?" I asked her. "Oh, hee hee, yeah, uh...whats yer name?" OK, this is going to be fun.
Tick-tock, tick-tock, 30 minutes passed....
...then 45 minutes passed...
By this time, the three of us were starving. The friendly, happy conversation that took place in the first 20 or so minutes of waiting had turned into silence, watching everyone that came in and out of the restaurant like a hawk, the only words coming out of our mouths being, "Oh my God!!!! How much longerrrrrr????" or "I'm soooooo hungry." The funny thing was that as we were about to faint on the sidewalk, other parties that were waiting for tables who had been there just as long as we had seemed to be chatting away, laughing it up, having a great time letting their Sunday afternoon waste away standing outside a restaurant. Why???
It was about to be an hour and there was still one party of three ahead of us. Couples were whizzing by us as it seems the restaurant has an excess of tables for two, and as luck would have it, no adjacent tables seemed to have become available at the same time, making it impossible for them to push two together. Determined to find out what the story was, I walked into the restaurant and cased the joint, walking by all the people dining, determining if they had just started eating or if there was a check on the table. I'd look at the people, then down at the table, then back at the people. Seems like a lot of them were certainly done eating; they just weren't leaving and continued to talk and laugh and enjoy each other's company. Fucked up for us, but do I blame them? They'd probably waited over an hour for a table too!
Finally my name was called after what? An hour and ten? The food had BETTER be good.
It was decent. But not mindblowing by any means. And definitely NOWHERE NEAR worth the hour-plus wait. Or the lame service we got. Which brings me to the #2 thing to keep in mind to fully enjoy your Sunday afternoon...
2. Avoid stupid people.
We were seated near the back of the Parisian muraled dining room in a booth that was covered with crushed dark blue velvet. She came and took our order, our Sorority girl #2. My friend ordered mimosas for us then ordered her crepe. Isaac ordered the chili omelette. "Oh, we don't have chili today." Ooooh-kay. So he picked another omelette. She proceeded to walk away. "Uh, excuse me. You never took my order," I yelled...
She turned around. "Oops, duh!" *giggling* "I'm sorry, what would you like to order?"
Our mimosas couldn't have come soon enough. Made with fresh O.J. and who knows what kind of champagne, they were good, and helped to take the edge off for maybe a minute or two.
Some much needed mimosas
But then our orders came and the edge came right back. I looked at my crepe which was supposed to contain chicken and artichokes and instead got something that had bell peppers and sausages in it. My friend and Isaac could have started eating their plates...IF there were silverware on the table. Sorority Girl #2 came back to the table. "Is something wrong?" she asked, looking at us as if we were the crazy ones. Already irritable and hungry, I wanted to say, "Yeah, your face," but I held back.
While I waited for my replacement crepe, I snacked on our basket of garlic fries which were tasty but seemed like they'd be sitting under a heat lamp for a little too long. I took bites of my friend's Le Salmon crepe with fresh and smoked salmon, cream cheese, capers and a lemon dill sauce. Its wheat flour based crepe was a little more doughy than I'd liked it to be, but it tasted good. Well it's the least they could do, right?
My French Riviera crepe arrived soon after and I immediately tore in, tired of snacking on garlic fries. It tasted OK, but was a little generic in its use of pre-made chicken breast. I couldn't decide if I was crazy about the cherry-basil cream sauce...was the cherry flavoring really necessary? Probably not.
My corrected crepe. Duh.
"Hmm, this is a pretty good veggie omelette," I thought, as I picked at his omelette while waiting for my crepe to be re-made. "But that's odd of him to go from chili to veg..."
I noticed that he started moving his fork more feverishly through the omelette. "I didn't order this! There's no HAM in this!"
Sorority Girl #2 was back at our table. Again. Which brings me to the #3 thing to note...
3. Avoid stupid people that try and make you look stupid.
Minutes later, Jon Favreau looking manager guy comes to the table. "Is something wrong with the food?" We explained to him that this was the second order that they'd screwed up on. Turns out that Isaac actually got two of the omelette names mixed up. Jon Favreau manager guy agreed to fix the order for him, but made it a point to point his error out. Oh yeah, guy, like we're the stupid ones. Fucker.
The right omelette
As Isaac scarfed down his new omelette, this time containing the correct but average tasting blend of ham, onions, and potatoes, my friend and I did something risky and ordered more food. We hoped that some sugar--chocolate in particular--would help lift the spirits as it does with PMS. And trust me, this situation was starting to rival that time of the month. This time, fortunately, our Latin Lovers crepe of Nutella and banana arrived without a hitch and WITH silverware. I do have high standards on dessert crepes as I tend to compare everything to this heavenly Nutella and banana crepe I ate a few years ago in Paris's Latin Quarter. La Creperie Cafe's version didn't even compare, but it was quite yummy still, despite the beef I had with the crepe part not being quite delicate enough.
Even Nutella couldn't save this place
I broke all my rules, which with the exception of having a great time just being with Isaac and my friend, ended up ruining my Sunday afternoon. I certainly hope that this was an off day for them at La Creperie, but I don't think I'll ever go back to find out. Don't take my word for it though. If this is the way you like to spend your Sundays with your friends and loved ones--almost three hours combined of waiting and jacked up service from not too intelligent people--then this is the place for you!
La Creperie Cafe
4911 E. 2nd St. (BTW, they moved and have not updated their website with the new address)
Long Beach, CA 90803