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big rehearsal dinner, casual tasty food

Be honest with me--is this possible? Where? We have racked our brains and our chowhound.com.

Rehearsal dinner for 100+ people. (Not for more than a year, but are thinking ahead for a variety of reasons.) Don't want to spend a huge amount of money--would rather be able to invite more people and be inclusive than get fancy food. Super casual, fun, quirky, comfortable atmosphere for people in their 20s, 50s, 80s. Accessible by T. Next night is big hotel formal wedding--want to balance it out and start the weekend by putting a smile on everyone's face. Restaurant or not, most preferably not a hotel.

In my dreams, we rent a pretty room that has a view of the Charles and skyline (where?) and cater with Tamarind Bay, served family style. But we can't do Indian because none of the parents like Indian. And I don't think I can submit to doing barbecue because I'm a vegetarian and would feel guilty about all the cows. No clambake--there are a number of moderately kosher people involved (no shellfish, no pork, no super-blatant milk and meat combos.) And the sister-in-law is seriously allergic to peanuts, so it can't be Thai food. And it goes on.

Ideas and experiences are welcome, of course, as is pointing out the elements we should compromise on so as to stay somewhere in the neighborhood of the vision.

Thanks so much.

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  1. The Museum of Science used to rent out the Skyline Room on the top floor for private parties. There were several approved caterers. Not sure what the arrangements are now but it sure fits your room requirements.

    1 Reply
    1. re: BBHound

      now it's apparently only their in-house wolfgang puck catering, which might be too fancy-shmancy looking and not enough with the tasty, but the view sounds great and i just sent them an e-mail. thank you.

    2. Unless I'm missing something I think all that you're left with is Italian. It's inexpensive, fun and you could get creative with the selections that would please everyone. Not a big fan of Maggiano's but something like that? Depending on the night I'm sure you could find find a Italian chef/restaurant owner who would be happy to cater offsight as well.

      1. OK, so a few out of the ordinary suggestions. Not necessarily in any particular order and none with the view you really want but here goes.

        1) A cruise on the harbor(not so great food but unique experience and T accessible)
        2) The Veronique Ballroom, Brookline, I believe. As far as I know you can bring your own caterer. Pretty room but a little dated.
        3)Massachusetts State House. Definitely can bring your own caterer and really unique.
        4)Museum of Fine Arts. Not sure of the caterer but their own food is delicious and could accomodate all.
        5) I know you said no to the hotel idea but we have had many wonderful experiences at the Doubletree Guest Suites on Soldiers Field Road. They can even provide kosher meals.

        You should try Gathering Guide.com they have a list of various venues.

        1. Thanks, everybody. You guys are awesome. I'm looking into the Museum of Science and the State House--both would be really neat venues, though I fear too expensive in the end. I think the Maggiano's type thing might be the only realistic option--but I do want to avoid a chain. Can anyone think offhand of a local Italian--or Chinese, i suppose--restaurant that can hold 100+ people and has somewhat delicious food? I'm think we're moving away from the renting a room idea because of added costs and logistics.

          1. I'd call up places like Peach Farm, Gourmet Seafood, Jumbo, New Shanghai, East Ocean City and Ocean Wealth in Chinatown to check if they can hold 100.

            1. Don't know if you are willing to venture from the city but Cathay Pacific in Quincy has a room that can easily hold 100. We have held everything from receptions to birthday party's there. The food is pretty decent for American Chinese and the staff is great. They have live entertainment that they will open up to your guests for free after the event. The cost is unbelievably reasonable. I think as low as $9.00 per person and definitely not higher than $15. You can choose from several buffet options and I have been able to please the kosher crowd also. Good luck.

              1. Exchange Street Bistro in Malden is a great space with surprisely good food. They have a martini bar which is the center of the restaurant and the space is large. I would think you could "secure" the back of the restaurant for your party.

                It is T accessible. Malden Center Orange line, walk two blocks down.

                NO view!! This is a restaurant in a funky part of town, so the surrounding area ain't pretty.

                1. You could go with an indoor New England clam bake theme. Woodmans caters - and may have a fun location suggestion. Out of towners may like the private dining space at Legal Seafoods in Park Square.

                  For our rehearsal dinner and took over Todd English's Figs and had lots of pizzas and salads.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: michela

                    Hi michela,
                    This is a long shot given the post was so long ago but we are looking to have our rehearsal dinner at figs as well and I was wondering if you wouldn't mind sharing some details about it? Did you have it at the beacon hill or Charlestown location? Were you able to rent out the entire place? How much was rental fee or minimum?


                  2. Edited to say WOW I really should have read the dates on this more clearly - sorry!