Since I don’t own a car, I often have to craft fairly

Since I don’t own a car, I often have to craft fairly elaborate busing-and-biking travel itineraries to reach the restaurants I’m reviewing (or conscript my husband to drive.) But Copperleaf, the restaurant at Cedarbrook Lodge that’s the subject of this week’s review, was terrifically easy to reach: The hotel sends a free shuttle to the light rail station, no questions asked.

At least, the front desk didn’t ask any questions when we called for our chariot. The friendly driver, though, was in the mood to chat. “Where you from?,” he asked, mistaking us for hotel guests who’d light railed into Seattle for an amuse bouche of big city fun.

Among the many reasons I rarely wear disguises is costuming feels like lying, which is far from my forte. I’m not morally opposed to the harmless white lie, and don’t think there’s anything ethically wrong with a restaurant critic parading around as a wealthy matron or sloppy college student, Ruth Reichl-style (although I don’t know what good such charades do for readers.) But I’m much more comfortable sticking to the truth, consequences be damned. When I was in high school, my senior class willed me tact. I’m sure there are chefs who wish I’d held on to it.

So when I do have to concoct stories to protect my anonymity, they’re very lightly fibbish. My most frequent gambit is to reassume my real identity circa 2003: I can pretty easily pull off being a yoga instructor from western North Carolina. Or I might go for something even truer but vaguer, such as saying I’m a writer from Seattle and ending the conversation right there.

But one of my dining companions took an entirely different approach when the driver asked where we lived. “Maui,” he told him.

I slumped down in my seat as soon as he said it. I’d been to Maui once as a teenager, and was pretty sure that represented the totality of our island experience. Unfortunately, the driver had Maui experience in spades. He wanted to know which coffee shop we patronized on a particular street, whether we knew a Maui-based buddy of his and which beach we surfed. (“I don’t know how to swim,” my friend parried.)

Fortunately, the hotel’s just minutes from the train station, so the ordeal ended quickly. Even if you’re just playing yourself, the short distance makes the Cedarbrook a great evening getaway.

I wasn’t sold on Copperleaf – chef Mark Bodinet reportedly wows at various tasting events, so perhaps he’s lately been distracted by off-campus duties – but I can heartily endorse light railing to the hotel bar. Just make sure you and your friends get your stores straight first.

For more on the Copperleaf, read my full review here.