Pirate’s Pleasure Mixes Vintage Charm with Coastal Home-cooking
Built in 1953, the Isle Dauphine Golf Club includes restaurants and beach amenities.
Only three dozen cars fit on the ferry from Ft. Morgan to Dauphin Island in Mobile Bay, so we skipped breakfast to line up early. When we pulled off the dock on the island’s east end, we looked for a restaurant, but found nothing open. We decided to explore instead, discovering 500-year-old Indian mounds made of oyster shells and eventually a beachfront lunch at a mid-century jewel headed for the National Register of Historic Places.
Built in 1953 and unaltered by storms or redevelopment, the Isle Dauphine Golf Club is undergoing a rebirth of sorts thanks to the island’s property owners who now own and operate the facility. The golf course is closed, but the club’s charming amenities, including a pristine pool, circular cinderblock bath house, and snow-white beach dotted with thistle and spiderwort, are open to the public for a $3 day fee.
We parked in a gravel lot behind the main clubhouse, which hugs a hillside perch like a Jetsonian utopia. By the poolside cabana, three friends amicably explained the club’s history between bites of Whopper-sized sandwiches filled with egg and cheese. Then they directed us around the building to Pirate’s Pleasure, a casual bar and restaurant (also circular like the pool and clubhouse) serving home-cooking and coastal fare for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Settling in so we could see the dunes, we ordered fish and shrimp sandwiches dressed with lettuce, tomato, and red onion on soft hoagie rolls with sides of potato salad, a decadent blend of baked potatoes, sour cream, and chives, and manager Phil Patronas’ World Famous Baked Beans, the best baked beans I’ve ever tasted. I asked our server to explain the beans’ ingredients, and she called out Patronas, who wrote down his recipe on a torn sheet of notebook paper. “You start with Bush’s home-style baked beans and add four kinds of meat: Conecuh sausage, bacon, hamburger meat, and chopped pork butt,” said Patronas, a charming eighth-generation islander who also listed matter-of-factly the hurricanes he’s sheltered through. “The secret is the butt. I smoke it out back for 13-and-a-half hours over pecan and hickory.”
Plenty of other ingredients also go into Patronas’ beans, including some of the standard ingredients. If you’d like to try your hand at his combination, here is the recipe he generously shared:
Phil Patronas’ World Famous Baked Beans
Bush’s home-style baked beans
Domino’s dark brown sugar
Frank’s Hot Sauce
Minced garlic from a jar
Salt and pepper
And four kinds of meat: smoked pork butt, sausage, bacon, and hamburger meat.
Pirate’s Pleasure, Isle Dauphine Golf Club, Dauphin Island, Alabama (251-861-2969)
The Isle Dauphine pool and beachfront are open to the public for a $3 day fee.