Here was how my train of thought went:
Parking at a hotel will probably be around $12. But it's only 9 miles away. And I would like to indulge in free alcohol. How much could a cab possibly be?
I know that long-time OC residents are laughing already.
Cab was $25. And once you've taken it one way, you have to take it back again. My $50-value ticket was free, however. I had offered some extras to various people on the condition they be my designated drivers, and NOT ONE would do it.
But then I get there, and right inside the gate I'm asked to pose with some nearly-naked chick in a feathered headdress. Of course I said yes. Beyond her, the biggest dirty trick of the night. See, the idea with Decadence is that you have a $50 ticket, and that gets you all the free food and booze inside you want. Except that the one huge bar right there in front of you as you enter is NOT free. Nor do they warn you that it's not free. By the time you've ordered a drink, and they're demanding $7 for a splash of fruit juice in a shot of vodka, it's too late. Oh, and credit card minimum is $40. No tip for them.
Everything else was free.
Hoping for some sushi, I didn't find any – but got a seafood fix from some coconut shrimp and crab cakes that were among the best of those breeds I've encountered (please forgive my not remembering the names of any of these restaurants – I was there for MY enjoyment, not yours). The pulled pork barbecue with a sauce described as “hot liquid love” by the chef, topped in coleslaw, was the highlight of the night, bar none.
Another place had a decent barbecue brisket, but pork rules out every time in the battle for LYTastebuds. One guy who looked a lot like Matthew Modine kept asking me if I'd tried “the best Vietnamese food in Orange County.” I said yes.
“And what did you think?”
“I thought the sandwiches were all bread and very little meat.”
“You gotta try the curry”
“It looked intimidating.”
“Why, too hot?”
“Nahhh, too rich and creamy.”
“Well, just try a little bit.”
I promised I would, after my second plate of pulled pork barbecue.
Fortune cookies were offered by a couple places. One of them contained a fortune that said something like “Thanks for freeing me from the cookie.” Cute. Apparently one of the others contained a free boat rental coupon. I didn't find that one.
The main free vodka booth was right by the only entryway, which meant congestion galore. Alongside the pretty girls and pretty tough-looking men mixing cocktails was an ice sculpture of a martini glass through which shots were poured. It looked awesome.
But looks can mislead. See, the vodka shots weren't going directly through the ice, but through a thick plastic tube embedded in the ice. So the shot, despite traveling through a giant ice cube, would nonetheless come out warm due to the insulation of the tube. Not that that stopped me from having some, but, y'know, false advertising there.
The vodka stand ran out of cups real fast. Fortunately some of us held on to the first cups we were given. And now I must give praise where it is due: whoever invented the particular kind of plastic plate that featured a snug cupholder and allowed us to carry both food and drink in one hand...Bless you, sir or ma'am, whoever you are. The sheer number of parties I've been to where you have both hands full all the time, and can't do anything that requires coordination...well, let's just say a lot. May these plates catch on.
With booze running out sooner than I had reckoned, the only sure bet for alcohol toward evening's end was Jekyll & Hyde, a combined shot that tasted like cough syrup mixed with Jagermeister. I loved the shot glasses with flashing red lights, but I didn't totally love the shot. Still, close to 11, feeling more sober than a man taking a cab home ought to, I had the bartender fill a wineglass with the stuff.
At the end of the evening, Matthew Modine's twin found me again, wanting to know if I had ever tried the curry.
I had, and it was coconutty and spicy, two things I adore. I told him so, more or less.
Think I made his night.