I arrived at the Country Club with a chip on my shoulder. It was because of two things. First, there was the compulsory valet, which, I thought at the time, is ridiculous in this part of Costa Mesa. If a restaurant called “Pancakes R Us” directly across the street has self-parking, why can’t this place? Then there was the bouncer wearing a Secret Service earpiece who not only asked if I had a reservation, but also waited for an answer in the affirmative before he opened the door.
“Oh, I see,” I muttered, “this is one of those places.”
My fears were not assuaged upon entering. I felt as if I’d been pushed into a wall of noise. Imagine a packed room of people all talking loudly to make themselves heard above other people talking loudly. Then imagine an A-frame ceiling bouncing it all back and amplifying the sound tenfold. Following the hostess, I pushed through a crowd that had gathered around the main bar. This was going to be a long night.