The Secret Society Dinner

Date Night knows a secret and we are about to spill the (refried) beans. A few weeks ago, we received an e-mail asking for our address and telling us to save the date for a secret dinner. This got our interest, and a few days later a nice packet arrived from Society 414, inviting us to join them for their inaugural “Curated Date Night” event.
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Society 414 is the brainchild of Michelle Gainey and Liana Hall, who bill their new enterprise as the “cure for the common date night.” Gainey is an event planner and she does a lot of weddings. Hall is a photographer who takes pictures at those weddings. Their concept is to take 4 elements (secret location, styled environment, inspired cuisine, and an entertainment experience), 1 key, and 4 featured artists (4-1-4, get it?) and combine them into one date. The location is a secret until 41 hours before the event. We are given a dress code and a color scheme and a hint, but that’s all we know. Where will we wind up?
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Let’s follow the arrow and find out. And the location is…
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Decatur! You Decaturites are probably familiar with The Solarium, which is at the former home of the Scottish Rite Hospital. Designed in 1918, the building is now used as a community center and a special events facility.
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After signing in, we are greeted by these ladies, who are mixing tequila drinks. Tonight, it’s the Trianon Mule.
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Tiranon tequila is combined with ginger beer, lemon and lime juice, thyme, lychee and egg white to make a very refreshing drink. It’s a hot night and this drink is a nice way to cool off.
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While we drink, we munch on some chips and salsa. Tonight’s key/theme is “fresh” as this is a fresh start for Society 414.
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We are shown to a room that has the ingredients for guacamole on the tables. It doesn’t get any fresher than guacamole made right here. Evidently we are going to make our own.
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Chef Alvaro Victoria gives us a lesson on how to make the green stuff and off we go. It’s a group effort, with everyone in attendance (about 40 people) competing. The winner gets a valuable prize.
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Here’s our table’s guac. Evidently, I have been watching too many cooking shows and go crazy on the plating. We don’t win the prize, but we do get an honorable mention for best presentation.
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Tequila, chips, salsa, and guacamole. We discover a bucket of Mexican beers and we each grab one. Something tells us that the dinner will have a Mexican theme.
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The dining hall is decked out. Check out the draping and lighting. There are a lot of vendors who pitched in for this event. Most of them have roots in the wedding business.
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The floral arraignments at our table are huge, so big that they block the view across the table. We can see the tops of the heads of the people sitting across from us.
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Here’s a nice, fresh salad. Mixed greens are combined with a honey-lime vinaigrette and tomatoes. The pineapple, mango and papaya are very refreshing and cleanse the palate for the next course.
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The Mexican theme continues with a tostada bar. We take a shell and make our own. Mine has chicken, refried beans, lettuce, tomato and crema.
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There is also a station where a chef is making jalapeño glazed shrimp, which we put over coconut rice.
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Here’s my loaded plate. Eve’s looks very similar.
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After dinner, we return outdoors, where we toast the Society and its inaugural event with champagne. We even get party favors, bags of yummy caramels from the Shotwell Candy Company. There is a pretzel surprise inside of every caramel.
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There’s a dessert table too, with coconut and chocolate cupcakes.
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The moist cupcake just about melts in our mouth.
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The bottom line on Society 414: This curated date is almost like a wedding reception. All that’s missing is the bride and groom, and you don’t have to bring a present. We think that this is the perfect concept for people who have trouble planning special dates. It’s well-organized, fun, and you get to meet a lot of interesting people. You could book one for a birthday, an anniversary, or just about any occasion that needs a memorable celebration. Just telling someone, “we are going on a secret date, and we’ll find out where it will be two days before it happens” starts the night with intrigue. There is no word on the prices, but we hope that they can keep things reasonable so that many people will sign up. It looks like the Society is going to be throwing these every two months or so. Keep an eye on Society 414’s web site to find out when the next secret dinner will be.

Disclaimer time: Because we were guests of Society 414, we did not pay for tonight’s date. However, you cannot put a price on our prose and opinions.

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