Dream home makes for delightful dining

Cedar Creek beckons you right from the get-go.

The first thing you notice: It has curb appeal.

If I were driving around in search of my dream home, well let's just say its charm is the kind that makes women swoon and say, "Honey, stop the car!" How can you not want to spend some time in such a lovely setting?

Long long ago, Cedar Creek housed an early Sequim pioneer; a country doctor and his family. In 1896, Dr. W.W. McGeorge was the first physician in Sequim. And look how things turned out. Fifth Avenue has become Doctor Row. Linger in the lobby and enjoy a gallery of the McGeorge house and the family that built it.

Once upon a time an employee told me that the upstairs is haunted by a little girl. But no one can actually confirm this. Perhaps, with Halloween upon us, Cedar Creek might get a visit of the apparition kind. Sounds like a great night to make a reservation.

Inside the "house" you're transported to another country. The feel is light and airy Tuscany. I decided to take me, myself and I out for lunch. I arrived at the height of lunch hour.

The place was packed. I am pleased to say I had trouble finding a parking space! I circled the parking lot two or three times. That's good news for Cedar Creek - it means business is good, which is a nifty trick if you've been listening to the news.

Only a small table was available, so I requested a booth if one came up. Right away the hostess said, "Of course!" We like that. I've eaten at Cedar Creek a number of times and the waitstaff are pros. Barely had I brought out my reading material when my server, Lauren, came with a menu and moved me to a place with a lot more elbow room - my fave, a booth for four. And, no, they didn't know I was there to give them a review!

I decided to go with a house salad bathed in balsamic vinaigrette and a chicken salad panini sandwich. A normal person with a normal appetite would have ordered one or the other, but I was on the job.

While I was waiting, I was presented with a basket of herbed and buttered bread with balsamic vinegar for dipping. Naughty me - I scarfed down every carb-laden piece.

The salad soon arrived and the colorful mix of salad greens looked as if they just had been picked from the field. And that's how they bill themselves: "Regional Italian Cuisine." The vinaigrette was light and didn't overwhelm the greens.

The panini sandwich was not grilled - which assuaged my guilt about adding fat to the fire. The filling of chicken salad had nice big chunks of chicken plus fresh basil and the tang of marinated artichoke. Their sandwiches are served with a delightful and unexpected side dish - a cannellini bean salad mixed with onion, tomato, capers, olive oil, vinegar and Kalamata olives. It added just the right touch.

The rest of the lunch menu has a nice selection of antipastos, soups and salads, and more panini sandwiches. Of course, the rest of the menu is filled out with pasta and "piatti" (entrees) that includes local seafood mixed with spaghetti, ravioli and fettuccini. Did I mention pizza? Large or small with either thin or thick crusts, they are topped with meats, fish and veggies.

A few months back we took friends to Cedar Creek for dinner as a thank you for good deeds done. We ordered an antipasto, Dungeness Crab Cakes. They were gone in a minute with polite offers of, "No, please, you take the last piece." If you're out to dine with me, don't say that unless you mean it.

My Garlic Crusted Chicken Breast

Saltimbocca was moist and tasty. The sauce was on the salty side for me - but maybe not for you. An antipasto of Gratin Eggplant Parmigiano served as a light dinner for one of our guests and I'm told was just right.

I insisted we order dessert. After all, this was a "thank you" dinner and what's a little celebration without something sweet. We decided on the Apple Cinnamon with Cinnamon Ice Cream. Great combo! The Italian rum cake a la Claudia looked tempting too: butter cake with vanilla and chocolate custard.

I try to drink tea as a beverage and I do find most restaurants can't seem to get in a groove for hot refills like they do with keeping your coffee topped off and hot - and that was the case here.

The rest of the dinner menu expands on the lunch offerings: more antipastos, more pastas plus risotto, but passes on pizza to offer three times the choice of entrees. Every dish is presented with panache.

They have an extensive wine list (what Italian restaurant worth its stomped grapes doesn't?). They also offer premium liquors.

When the weather is right they offer alfresco dining on their deck. And if you really love their sandwiches, breads and pastries, they have a booth at the Open Aire Market. If you've missed it, they'll have a booth next season.

Visit their Web site at www.cedarcreek

Cedar Creek

665 N. Fifth Ave., Sequim


Lunch and dinner

11 a.m.-9 p.m. Daily

Price rating:

$ very inexpensive

$$ expensive

$$$ pricey

$$$$ expensive

Cedar Creek: $$$

Shelley Taylor and her husband recently relocated to the peninsula from California and are active in property tax reform issues. By her own admission, Taylor likes to eat.

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