An Elegy for Captain Cream's/Captain's Cabaret
You might be asking why our food blog is breaking this bit of tawdry news. For generations of South County eaters, Captain Cream's was literally a landmark, a handy shortcut referenced when giving directions to some other business in town.
"Peppino's? Yeah, the original location. Same strip mall as Captain Cream's."
"El Toro Meats? Best carne asada anywhere. East of Captain Cream's to El Toro Road and a block north of the post office on your right."
Back in 2004, I called Lake Forest the Black Hole of Food on my personal blog, professorsalt.com. The eating landscape has mercifully improved since, but then as now, the epicenter of Lake Forest casual eating sits squarely on that strip mall of strippers.
The clustertruck at Lake Forest Lanes where the Seabird truck parks every Tuesday night? The Hat? Both across Rockfield from the Captain. Formosa Chinese Restaurant? Other side of Lake Forest Drive inside the Holiday Inn.
It was as concise as that, and locals knew what you meant.
Local parents might be glad to rid the neighborhood of the naked-girl store, and that's a valid point of view. Taking another perspective are all the now-unemployed single moms and students working their way through college shuffling off to find other work. I will remember the Captain not only as a place of drink and debauchery, but also as a pre-GPS lodestar by which we made our way to eat in the former Black Hole of Food.
Seven years after I wrote that remark, everyone drives with smartphones, a glut of online tools to find restaurants exists, and nobody needs to know how to give good directions anymore. I lament not only the loss of one particular business, but also the knowledge that nothing can take its place as a secret handshake among knowing locals.
The Captain is dead. Long live the Captain.