dinner for 50 north of Boston - suggestions?
A friend of mine is getting married in Andover in late June and is looking for a nice place for supper the night before for her extended family (approx. 50 people). Folks will be staying in surrounding towns, so the restaurant could be in a wide radius from there - even down to Boston except that driving/parking might be an issue.
She is looking for something fun (like tapas) rather than hotel-rehearsal-dinnerish, and not too spendy. Unfortunately Chinese is out of the question as the family is from Hong Kong. The Hilltop and its ilk are also ruled out. Anything else is open for consideration though.
We had a great meal at O'Fado in Peabody (Portugese), and I noticed they had a very big room on the second floor that could take 50 people. Since most people in your group probably won't have had Portugese food, it would be unique, but as I mention in my post below, it's probably not a good place for vegetarians.
Down the street from there was a Brazilian BBQ place called Fire King. I don't know how big it is or even if the food is good, but it meets the "different" criteria.
On Sundays, Andover Inn offers an Indonesian Rijstaffel dinner, which they say they'll do at other times for groups of 25 or more. It's supposed to be a very fun, different dining experience. The menu is at http://www.andoverinn.com/special_events/indonesian_rijsttafel.htm
I'm sure you've given some thought to the traditional New England clambake, and there are a lot of restaurants in Ipswich and Essex that could help you out, although the 50 people might be tough.
For a real taste of New England, you could take the boat out to Misery Island off Essex and bring a picnic (or even have a catered clambake.) Details on the boat are at http://www.essexheritage.org/sun_line.htm- I've never been there, so I have no idea what it's like. But I used to plan events out at Thompson Island in Boston Harbor, and when we had to eliminate BYO Outings, I know a few of our prior customers switched to this place.
Good luck- please let us know what you decide to do!
re: Chris VR
As usual, I'll chime in another vote for O'Fado..I was there with my parents last week, and we watched as group after group went to a function going on upstairs...I haven't been to any dinners up there, but my mother has, and raved about their food selection...I'll have to get the lowdown from her on what was served...Definitely a problem for strict vegetarians, but there were LOTS of fish options on the menu.
re: Amanda Weiss
Well, to be fair, the original poster didn't mention vegetarians... I brought that in with my recommendations.
However, it's my opinion that a good host will always anticipate the needs of their guests and try to plan a meal (especially for a special occasion like a wedding!) that makes everybody happy. It is very possible to plan meals that make vegetarians and non-vegetarians happy, and I would do my best to do so if I knew for sure that there were vegtarians in my party.
I would personally feel terrible if I brought my guests to a restaurant and saw them only eating bread, white rice and side orders of vegetables because I hadn't thought to make sure that the restaurant could provide them a meal that would meet their needs.
Likewise, if I was dining with people who didn't like seafood, I wouldn't bring them to a place like Woodman's.