So everything in Carmel was super! Delicious burgers in a technologically advanced setting, wine tastings with just a bit of screaming, a little bit of shopping and sightseeing and some quality (read:horrible yet mesmerizing) movies at the hotel. What a lovely day enjoying a lovely village.
And then the sun went down, and what had become a quaint town became something a little different. Something a little more aloof, a little messier, a little more profane.
As night fell, we headed out for dinner Casanova, an adorable and unique Italian restaurant with a “world class” (we’ll take their word for it) wine list and food and that is highly rated by Zagat, Yelp, TripAdvisor and others for it’s atmosphere and cuisine. Having dined there once before, quite successfully, we had high hopes. But then we met our waiter.
It took us some time to realize he was our waiter because in the first encounter he just said, “water.” Not really a question, but as we happened to want some water we asked, “sparkling?” He turned around and several minutes later he returned with sparkling water. Since he didn’t say anything else, we assumed he was the busboy and waited for our proper waiter to appear. No such luck as the same gentleman appeared and asked us if we wanted something to drink. We ordered a bottle of sparkling rose and without comment he again left and a slightly less mute sommelier brought us the bottle several minutes later. Many additional minutes later, the busboywaiter returned, quickly rattled off the soup and fish selections and then just stared at us until we ordered. Order we did, and we settled in. Good thing we got cozy because we were in for a long night at the restaurant.
Two and a half hours, one slightly spilled plate and one item added to our bill that we didn’t order later, and we were on our way.
Carmel isn’t really known for its nightlife, but we were determined to spend more time enjoying the village. With few selections to choose from, we decided to try our luck at Constance Wine Room. Luck did not happen to be on our side, although ketchup sure was! A piano bar / wine tasting room, it was an eclectic mix of locals and out of towners. Most people appeared to be on their 18th or 19th glass of wine, so what could go wrong? Well, after securing a spot at the tasting bar, we ordered some sparking wine and surveyed the scene. A few minutes into enjoying the wine, one of the waitresses walked by with a plate that as we soon found out, was full of ketchup. The plate falls to the floor, the ketchum does a little bounce and lands all over us. Not just a dabble, but it was enough that you would have thought the amount of ketchup quadrupled in the air. Being the classy ladies we are, we didn’t want to make a scene, but it was so much ketchup that we smelled like we bathed in it. We started cleaning it off, and the bartender brought over a few wet wipes, which really didn’t help the matter given how much ketchup there was to contend with. It would clearly require a trip to the drycleaner, so we thought they might give us a break on the wine, but no such luck.
With a new dry cleaning order in tow, we decided to leave while we were ahead (who knows with the mustard and mayo was going to come out), so we called a cab, seeing as there aren’t a plethora of taxis hanging out downtown. We had good luck with Yellow Cab on the way to the restaurant (and really didn’t know of any other cab companies in the area) so we gave them a ring. The operator said that it would be about 15-20 minutes, and since we were now down a coat due to the ketchup situation and it was February by the ocean, when a Yellow Cab came our way a few minutes later, we went with it. A few minutes into the cab ride, we got an incoming call from a Monterey number, but we decided to continue on with our conversation. Another call from the same number resulted in a voicemail, which was one of the more interesting voicemails that have come our way. wWe suggest you take a listen, if you don’t mind some NSFW content. And if you do like NSFW content, don’t worry, it gets to the good stuff right away: Unhappy Cab Driver in Carmel
We were taken aback by the harsh words, but not ones to take things too personally, we laughed it off, especially when our perfectly nice cab driver assured us that the issue described by the offending voicemail happens all the time. Apparently, Carmel has an issue where Yellow Cab sends drivers downtown even though there are already drivers closer to the area. So live and learn, but we were happy to get back to the hotel and out of our ketchuped clothes either way.
There is nothing cuter than Carmel-by-the-Sea during the day, but watch out at night. You may need to brave mute waiters, flying condiments and profane cabbies, but don’t let that deter you. It is part of the adventure.