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Need a Restaurant for a Sunday Afternoon for a group of 30-40

tomaneng Jul 13, 2006 01:07 AM

It's for a chowish group so great food is the most important factor. It is for a milestone birthday it can't be seedy. Price is definitely a factor too. Plus there will be a few small children.

Is there perhaps a dim sum place that has a private enough room?

Am open to all cuisines.


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  1. Chrispy75 RE: tomaneng Jul 13, 2006 01:08 PM

    My experience is that when the group size gets above 20 or so, the quality of food really starts to decline. Just my opinion here. Have you thought about having the dinner catered? It may not be a bad option for that many. Also, you might want to check out some of the hotels. A lot of them are better equipped to handle a group of that size.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Chrispy75
      tomaneng RE: Chrispy75 Jul 13, 2006 03:28 PM

      Thanks. Any thoughts on food quality in the various hotels for something like this?

    2. Allstonian RE: tomaneng Jul 13, 2006 04:21 PM

      I don't recommend dim sum for a party that big on a Sunday afternoon, and I speak from personal experience. I helped friends arrange a post-wedding dim sum last fall for about that number of guests, and most of the Usual Suspects didn't even want to hear about it. Who can blame them? Weekend afternoons, especially Sundays, are their busiest times of the week, and catering a large party is too much trouble in the midst of all that. Also, the price points on dim sum make it not worth it to them financially.

      1. Chrispy75 RE: tomaneng Jul 13, 2006 04:32 PM

        I've been to a few holiday parties at some area hotels over the past few years and here's my take on some of them.

        Lenox Hotel---Holiday party in 1999 with food. Everything was tasty although it was 7 years ago and I have not been there since.

        Four Season---2001. Anniversary celebration with 50 ppl. Very enjoyable and the food retained taste and temp. I would recommend it for a large group.

        Colonnade Hotel---2005. Association dinner with about 75 ppl. Food was tasteless and greasy.

        1. Dax RE: tomaneng Jul 13, 2006 04:45 PM

          "Price will definitely be a factor" - it might help if you told us the range?

          Laurel might be an option. Apparently they can accomdate up to 42 in their private room.


          1. c
            cvb RE: tomaneng Jul 13, 2006 04:50 PM

            I went to a party on a Sunday at Cottonwood Cafe recently. I was not expecting much but was very plesantly suprised. (We had a menu to choose from and it had Migas on it, my fav).


            They had an outdoor patio but the weather forced us inside.

            1. h
              hargau RE: tomaneng Jul 13, 2006 05:07 PM

              China Pearl has a private room that has 4-5 ten top tables. They also have a smaller one with 2 ten tops. I have used these rooms in the past and it has worked out well. They do not charge anything for the rooms but require a $500/table food and drink minimum. I have no idea if they will let you book one during dimsum hours though. I think it would be physically impossible to eat that much $ of dimsum!

              1 Reply
              1. re: hargau
                Allstonian RE: hargau Jul 13, 2006 07:20 PM

                China Pearl was the restaurant that was most emphatic that they were far too busy with regular Sunday business to reserve one of their smaller rooms for a private party, and that we couldn't eat enough to make it worth their while.

                We succeeded in making a reservation with Grand Chau Chow, where the manager was very pleasant and accommodating. Unfortunately, when we showed up on the day in question it turned out that they had screwed up the reservation date and had been expecting us the previous day (Saturday vs. Sunday.) Luckily our party was pretty early (10:30 or so) and they worked hard to accommodate us on the fly. Still - overall it was a struggle.

              2. itaunas RE: tomaneng Jul 13, 2006 05:55 PM

                If at all possible, I would suggest a trial run at any restaurant you select. Along the lines of catering, I think either having family style or food laid out for you would make things a lot smoother than ordering a la carte.

                One restaurant that could handle such a group in Cambridge is the Sunset Cafe (a portuguese restaurant). Their food is good, but their service can be very slow. Its not the fanciest restaurant, but they might be able to arrange a Fado performance for you (usually only Fri/Sat) and they have large round tables. For groups of this size I believe they would normally serve family style and I would at least recommend making sure that some appetizers are ready when your group gets there. Portugalia also can handle groups that size and is nicer inside, but it would be long tables (eg doubles put together). Their menu is a bit more limited (I like their seafood dishes, but not the meat dishes). And if you were to do catering I have used both J&J and Portugalia.

                Brazilian restaurants are a bit harder on Sunday afternoons, as that is when people often go out to eat. Oasis in Medford is advertising a new function room and would probably be my first suggestion. I have seen their food suffer when they are busy, but I think if you do family style (some churrasco, moqueca, feijao tropeiro and salpicao) with a limited selection it will be good. Green Field in Allston could certainly handle it, but last time I was there the food was bad (in the try it first catagory). Cafe Brazil might be able to accomodate you across multiple rooms, if you were ok with that.

                Redbones would certainly open up "underbones" to a group this size if you were into that type of food.

                As far as the hotels, I think any hotel with a decent brunch would give you good food, but it is going to cost. You said cost was an object. There are also some higher end restaurants that could easily deal with a group this side, but cost and the "afternoon" timeframe is a question (those that open for brunch close about 2:30 and dinner doesn't start until 5pm). Legal Seafoods or something more chain oriented is also a safe bet for something this size.

                There are a huge number of red-sauce Italian restaurants that have accomodations for such a group and family style also makes the food easier. Bocelli's has a funky downstairs room, but I have only been once since it was DePasquale's. We once accomodated a group this size at Dom's in the North End, but someone can probably give you a better suggestion these days. Vinny's isn't a possibility, but maybe Lil Vinny's.

                1. t
                  tomaneng RE: tomaneng Jul 13, 2006 06:49 PM

                  Thanks for all of the suggestions! I checked around and the hotels are pretty pricey. I here what you're saying about dim sum. I wonder though if somewhere that doesn't do dim sum, like Sichuan Garden or Sichuan Gourmet, would be willing to open a bit early on a Sunday for a party this size and do a banquet. I have to confess that I'm woefully ignorant about Portuguese food. If we do go that route, what are some good dishes?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: tomaneng
                    JennyL RE: tomaneng Jul 13, 2006 07:30 PM

                    We did a surprise party for my folks, a luncheon, at Henrietta's Table in the Charles Hotel on a Saturday a couple of years ago. They have a private room. THe choices were limited, they did a shortened menu, and I think we brought our own cake, but it didn't run more than $2000 for 50 people. So that's a great price for the amazing food--all fresh and local and carefully prepated.

                    1. re: tomaneng
                      itaunas RE: tomaneng Jul 14, 2006 09:22 PM

                      For a portuguese family style dinner or buffet, I would suggest something along these lines

                      Appetizers: Salt Cod Balls, Shrimp pastires (rissois de camarao), and linguica (if served table side it can be served flaming)

                      The bread is always a good bet, cheese is a nice addition, mild black olives are great, and sunset has nice pickles. Salads are often forgettable, but included.

                      Main Dishes: Carne a alentejana (marinated pork with clams, special fried potatoes, and mild black olives). Mariscada (seafood rice dish, although they also have their version of paella) or a seafood based feijoada (white bean and seafood stew).

                      If you want a third dish you would have to decide between more seafood or meat. For seafood, I would suggest a salt cod dish "bacalau a braz" which is easier to do in large portions. I enjoy portugese steak and they have great dishes with half chickens etc, but a roast meat might be easier for a crowd. They have nice stuffed pork loins or a beef roast served with their steak sauce might be nice. Brased goat or rabbit are also specialties, but a little more difficult.

                      Side plates: Portuguese fried potatoes, some rice (portugalia does a nice rice and black bean combo like the brazilian baiao de dois), and ask them about a fava bean side.

                      Dessert: Flan and Mousse are the most common, but you could also request pastries such as "pasteis de nata" (you can try these out at Casal Bakery on Cambridge St).

                      Other alternatives. Caldo Verde (kale soup) is everywhere and excellent, but might not be the hot weather choice. The portuguese make an bready, but excellent gazpacho, but I haven't seen any restaurants serving it. Almost all restaurants offer cherrystones or littlenecks on the half shell, so that is another possibility.

                    2. JennyL RE: tomaneng Jul 13, 2006 07:30 PM

                      ps it's in cambridge, harvard square, and we did have a lunch there ahead of time, on the house, to sample all the options.

                      1. MC Slim JB RE: tomaneng Jul 13, 2006 08:16 PM

                        I'm one of many chain-bashers on this board, but Maggiano's Little Italy in Park Square has hosted a couple of big-group dinners I've been to (corporate holiday parties), and I thought it was pretty fine and an excellent value for Italian-American, served family style, in a handsome setting.

                        1. b
                          bnyce RE: tomaneng Jul 14, 2006 12:18 AM

                          The Beacon St. Tavern in Brookline has a beautiful private dining room (including its own bar and fireplace) that can be booked ahead of time and the menu has a modest price range. The food is excellent to boot!!!

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