With less than a week between being notified that the dinner was coming to town and finding out the exact details, attendees were bubbling with anticipation as they entered the site of the event. In fact, just getting there was a challenge as downtown was literally a circus with the Nashville Symphony and Ringling Brothers both attracting crowds to the parking lot where dining society members had been summoned by a cryptic email. Plus it was raining cats and dogs.
As the crowd shook off the wet, we were entertained by a winsome country singer named Charlie West strumming away in the corner of the lobby while Patrón patrons checked in. Eventually we were given Patrón bottle tags with the number 21 on them, which was our key to the empty 21st floor of the Pinnacle building which had been transformed into a sultry dining room and vast makeshift kitchen for Barlow's crew. He jokingly described it to me as "The anti-tayst. I don't know what to do with this much space in the kitchen." Rollerskates would have been helpful.
Servers offered appetizers and trays full of two of the six special Patrón cocktails that Capaldi had created for the evening. A Seven League's Punch (named after Pancho Villa's horse) featured Patrón Silver, chablis, ginger and Honeybell orange, and was a very pleasant palate cleanser. I missed out on the Jalisco cocktail while I was poking around the kitchen, but by all accounts the combination of Patrón Reposado, Spanish cava, agave nectar and rhubarb bitters was one of the winners of the night. I'll have to get Chris to make me one on my next visit to Tavern.
A rollicking steel drum band created a festive mood during the cocktail hour, and the views of a rainy downtown were striking as we watched sheets of precip washing over the bridges across the Cumberland. We almost hated to sit down a the long Viking-style table for dinner. Notice I said "almost."
Once the convivial crowd was settled in, servers presented wild salmon sashim,i which Barlow revealed had been dip-netted in Washington state the day before. Served alongside a Patrón Citronge Carrot Cake, the dish nicely complemented the Silvered Up cocktail with its peppery tequila and sweet Blanc Vermouth. It was obvious that Barlow and Capaldi worked together closely to match their food and drink flavors. In fact, they said that for some courses, the drink determined the food and vice versa for others. Capaldi and Barlow introduced each course and riffed off of each other very well under the direction of Patrón regional director and emcee Tony Mineo.
The dishes were appropriately-sized, and I suspect that most of the diners had eaten light lunches in preparation for the feast, so nobody seemed too full for dessert. Barlow offered a Chocolate Burrito filled with Chocolate Mousse and topped with Pomegranate Salsa and Sourwood Honey Goat Cheese. It was an offer that was greedily accepted, and the cocoa tortilla had a very unique texture and flavor. Capaldi finished off the evening with a Nut n' Honey, sort of an egg fizz featuring ingredients that were also included in the dessert: fresh pomegranate juice, mace-sourwood honey and chocolate bitters.
The lucky lottery winners finally made their way out into the lightening lightning sated and happy. The four-hour event fairly flew by as the pace of service and lively conversations kept the table hopping. It was a first-class evening and Nashville should consider itself fortunate for being included on the itinerary of this traveling road show. According to Patrón’s brand director Jennifer Long, the Nashville dinner was a resounding success from their perspective as well. “The intimate ‘supper clubs’ were designed to showcase Patrón’s versatility and give the Patrón Social Club members an unforgettable opportunity to experience innovative tastes from some of the most prominent culinary and cocktail experts while enjoying an evening of luxury. The Nashville event offered Social Club members a deeper look into what makes Patrón unique, and we saw our guests further appreciate the diversity and flavors of our tequila through this unforgettable dining experience.”
For more pictures of the evening and links to all the drink recipes, visit the Secret Dining Society's website here. While you're there you can also sign up to become a member and maybe even win a spot at the table at the next tour stop.