Awhile ago I signed up for this site called Patron Social Club. I don’t remember why or how I had heard about it, but I read about “secret dining” events and I thought, “Well heck yeah, I’d want to go!” I promptly forgot about it after that. Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I got a newsletter that said you could email them for a spot to the upcoming San Diego event. I submitted my name and a day later I received an invitation to the Patron Secret Dining Society dinner! How exciting!
I was able to bring in one guest with me and I invited Faye of Faye’s Fork to be my date for the evening.
Basically all the Patron peeps told us was: “Meet in the lobby of the Hotel del Coronado. Wear cocktail attire. Watch Instagram at 6PM for clues. Ladies should wear flats and bring a light sweater.”
Hmm. Okay, Patron. Here I was, waiting in the lobby with a few other people lingering around and waiting for the first clue to appear. I was actually waiting for Faye since she hadn’t shown up yet. Luckily I was able to figure out that since we all got the clues at once, you could pretty much just follow the crowd around.
Faye showed up a few minutes after the first clue arrived. She asked me if she was dressed okay in her tank top and jeans and I asked her, “Did you even read the whole email I sent you?”
Nope. She did not. Luckily no one was like, enforcing a dress code or anything. I kind of wished I was wearing a tank top, too, until later…
The first clue was this:
“FIRSTCLUE: Some Like It Hot. If you’re one of them, you’ll recognize this tree from the classic Marilyn Monroe film. Now go find it.”
Okay, I actually had no clue where this tree was. We just followed the large crowd of nicely dressed people over to this tree.
I haven’t seen “Some Like It Hot” in a long time, but I knew it was filmed here. That sign talks about the Dragon Tree and how it is native to the Canary Islands and was used as a background to the movie. There was a tiny Patron bottle hanging off the tree (which is what my arrow is pointing at, in case that wasn’t obvious).
A second clue came in quickly:
“#SecretDiningSociety SECOND CLUE: Where did the lawyer build a fence? In the courtyard. Go there next. #BadJoke”
Faye and I kind of stood around and talked for a minute and I thought, “Let’s just go look at the hotel map.” But there was no courtyard on it, and we ended up asking an employee since we lagged behind the group (slackers that we are).
We ended up going back through the lobby to this pretty garden area where a few tables were set up and they started handing out these drinks.
I only remember it had cucumber and was a little sweet and I liked it! We hung around here and everyone had to sign waivers saying it was okay to photograph/film them. And then the last clue came in over Instagram:
“#SecretDiningSociety FINAL CLUE: Before Clark Griswold there was this: the first electrically-lit Christmas tree in the world. Find it. We’ll be waiting. ”
Yup…. definitely did not know that one either. But it’s easy to follow a big crowd and Faye and I wandered outside to the front of the Hotel del and saw this!
Fancy buses! We were going on a trip!
These buses were waaaaaaaay nicer than the school bus or the public bus. There’s a wood ceiling and a wood floor with plush couches on both sides. Music was rocking quite loudly as we started out trek down Silver Strand. I suspected something would be happening on the beach and when we pulled into Silver Strand beach I was only a little bit surprised.
That is, until I saw the setup and the venue. And then I was blown away! Here’s a little peek before we even got off the bus.
There were two big buckets of flip flops so you could kick off your shoes and really enjoy the party beach style. I had to dig through that bucket to find a pair of small sized flip flops for my tiny feet!
And then, naturally, there were servers who had beverages already prepared for us. Yes, please.
A band was playing some cool “soft rock” tunes (think 70’s love songs a la Guardians of the Galaxy) as we wandered the beach and soaked it all in.
Up in the sky, flying back and forth on the beach was one of those planes with the banner floating behind it. Hot damn! Patron really goes all out to impress!
There was a complete bar set up on the beach, too, though I didn’t go over there. There were plenty of servers passing around boozy Patron drinks for us to try.
There were about four long tables set up with crisp linens, wooden chairs and beautiful centerpieces.
Lights were strung up and down above us for lighting after the sun set.
In addition to drinks, there were also some appetizers being passed around.
I saw this one and I was honestly like, “What in the what is this? A baked apple? Is that an egg?” I really didn’t get this appetizer. It was a soft, warm baked apple with bacon stuffed into the top and a fried egg on top. I took a bite and it was … all right. I don’t really like baked apples (too mushy) and I doubt I have ever thought to eat apple + egg + bacon together. I ended up just fishing out the bacon and eating it and leaving the rest…
Salmon tacos was the other appetizer and I liked this one better than the weird apple thing. The salmon was nice and light and the corn tortilla was warm and tasted very fresh.
MORE BOOZE. I mean, hello, it’s an event for Patron Tequila. Of course it’s gonna be BOOZY.
This drink was freakin fantastic. This tasted a lot like a Mai Tai except with tequila instead of rum. The fruit and the sweetness from the orgeat made this incredibly yummy.
So yummy I had to pose with it on the beach.
And then take romantic photos of it before the sunset. ~ *dreamy*~
So far this thing was super impressive. Faye told me that this would have been such a romantic first date and that I definitely would have gotten laid that night, you know, if I were dude. We joked about this a few times during the evening!
Right before the sunset, we were asked to find our seats (every place setting was labeled with a name) and I was happy to see I was on the end of a table.
We had four courses to go through that evening, done by Chef Richard Sweeney (who was on Top Chef and is currently at R-Gang Eatery) while the drinks were done by Mixologist Jennifer Queen (below, on the left, who has crafted the homemade vermouth at Monello, among other things).
Their menu was designed to have us go on a tour of San Diego, each course highlighting different aspects of San Diego culture.
Oooo, lookie! There are flowers in my drink! This first drink (er… third actually… no fourth… wow) was called “Silver Lonesome Dove”. Made with Patron Silver, a grapefruit reduction and IPA. It was a bit on the sour side for my tastes and I kept sipping on my Mai tai-like drink instead, rebel that I am.
Then we received our first of four courses in a cute cup and saucer dish. It was “Craft Beerviche”, a play on ceviche, made with craft beer from Ballast Point. Ballast Point Sculpin and habanero was infused into the shrimp ceviche.
Hoooo boy, was this one spicy! It has a real kick to it from the sculpin and the habanero and I did manage a few delicious bites before I gave up. The shrimp was tender and packed a ton of flavor. Faye ended up taking over the rest of my dish since I found it to be too spicy. “That’s why I like it!” she retorted to me and I gladly let her finish it before my breath caught on fire.
SECOND COURSE ALERT! On another note, why does this photo suck?
This drink is called “Postcards from Italy”. It it a mixture of Patron Añejo (aged) and Meyer Lemon limoncello that Queen prepared herself. This was much more on the sweeter side than the last drink and I liked it a bit more.
For the food, it was designed to have a focus on the veggies which were from Suzie’s Farms, but MY focus was on this seared scallop. This scallop was oh so perfect. The sear on it was beautiful and the scallop was so tender and sweet. I wish I had like, five more. The roasted veggies were okay but hidden from view on this dish was a bit of panna cotta and I was honestly baffled as to why it was on the dish. The panna cotta was very sweet and didn’t seem to go with anything else on the dish. I ate a little bit of it but it was too weird for me to eat with the rest of the dish.
BOOZE BREAK. (dance!)
Here’s Faye and I, trying to take a selfie and giggling instead. Faye kept jokingly asking me to do things to which I would just deadpan back at her and tell her she was too high maintenance.
BREAK OVER. THIRD COURSE.
The third course was “A Taste of the Mesas” designed to take us to the Convoy area.
This was the drink, simply called “Convoy”. It had Roca Patron Añejo, sesame nori syrup, sweet vermouth and bitters.
Can I be with honest with you here? I disliked this drink. Like… totally disliked it. Queen explained that she created the nori syrup to bring a little bit of the “saltiness of the sea” to the drink.
Another person at our table said it best when they busted out and asked us what we really thought of this drink. I’ll hold back all of the comments, but suffice it to say, no one at our table seemed to this like. “There’s a reason why we don’t drink the ocean water!”
The saltiness was just too much for me and I ended up taking no more than two or three sips of this drink.
The entree itself had Patron XO Cafe Dark & Sambal braised pork cheek with crispy noodles and pickled carrot. I did take a tiny bit of the carrot “just to see” but yup, there was no way I was going to eat that. There wasn’t a ton of sauce here but the braised pork cheek was nice and tender… but the crispy noodles just weren’t really pulling the dish together for me. There wasn’t enough sauce to coat the noodles and this dish just fell flat for me.
In between courses we had time to kill to talk and wander around. They were basically cooking all of the food in the parking lot, so I didn’t blame them for the time it took between courses. I managed to walk over and snap a few photos of the bonfire area before the sun set earlier in the meal.
This is a shot looking back at the dinner party. I love that the lights are slightly blurred orbs in the distance.
It got a little chilly in the evening and Faye and I made sure to both grab these wraps to keep us warm. I put mine over my head a little a one point and Faye exclaimed that I looked like “one of those Star Wars characters” but she couldn’t tell me WHICH one.
“Jawa?” I asked, since I’m pretty short and they’re hooded.
“No… that’s not it.”
“Uh, Darth Maul? Another Jedi?”
I still don’t think she quite figured out who she thought I looked like but she insisted on taking multiple photos of me in this pose.
We asked the girl sitting across from us to take our photo, too, with our faces covered. Why? I have no idea. It seemed like an excellent idea at the time.
DESSERT COURSE, YO. The last course was called “Sunset at the Cliffs”. This drink on the other hand was called “Borderline”. It was basically a spiked horchata with a huge cinnamon stick in it. It wasn’t bad. It was on the sweeter side which I liked. Cinnamon stick was maybe a little overkill, though.
Dessert consisted of cinnamon buñuelos with salted caramel ice cream and smoked chicharrón. The buñuelos were perfectly crispy and had a nice dusting of cinnamon sugar on them. I loved the salted caramel ice cream and the crispy chicharrón added a nice element to the dish… kind of like bacon with desserts, but just a touch of smoky saltiness. You can put saltiness in my dessert and I’m okay with it – just not my drink!
Faye insisted she wasn’t going to have any dessert so I ate a little bit of hers in her stead.
The bonfire was going at that point and the band was playing again and people were camping out around the fire. Faye had wandered over with a few other guests to sit by the fire and when I finished my dessert I went to find her. It was after 10pm at this point, on a Wednesday, and we started to wonder when they would take us back.
Faye and I proclaimed ourselves to be old party poopers because we wanted to get back to our cars so we could drive home! For the record, I only had a tiny bit of each drink since I knew I had to drive myself home. I wished I had a designated driver so I could enjoy a bit more, but on the other hand, I don’t really enjoy being drunk/buzzed anymore.
We eventually all got back onto the dark, quiet bus. There was no music this time until someone offered to hook up their phone to the soundsystem so the ride back wouldn’t so darn eerie.
It was a really grand event and I was super happy to have received an invitation to join in on the fun of the Patron Secret Dining Society. I have never been to an event quite like it before and it was fun to see how all out they went to entertain 60 guests right on the beach! Thanks, Faye, for being my awesome date!!