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Planning anniversary gathering in Durham... any suggestions?

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My boyfriend is trying to put together a small anniversary celebration for his parents - trouble is we're planning it remotely with little local knowledge (they only go down there to visit his grandmother). Can anyone suggest a restaurant where we can host a small gathering (10-15 people) for cocktails/light dinner without spending an arm and a leg? Ideally we'd like someplace where we can all mingle for a bit before sitting down. Suggestions would be most appreciated!

Thanks so much!

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  1. Depends on what you consider "an arm and a leg." I know people who consider $30 a head, including drinks, expensive and others who consider $100 a head, not including drinks, cheap.

    Do you want to be able to order off the regular menu, or would you consider a set or a prix-fixe menu?

    What sort of atmosphere do you want? Casual? Semi-formal? Formal?

    1. Papas Grill on Hillandale has contemporary Mediterranean food that is quite good and a nice room that would be appropriate for a group your size. They are not the least expensive (entrees $15-25 range) but they have a fairly festive atmosphere. Their food is always well executed, but they never have the wines on their list.

      The Weathervane at Southern Season has a nook that would be appropriately sized, and their food is elegant while providing good value. The atmosphere is nice, the wine list is very high quality and affordable. It is not flawless by any means, but the dishes are reasonably creative, attractively presented, and of decent execution. They are in that same entree price range. If you are looking for something less expensive than that, or slightly more, I'd be happy to make other recommendations.

      Four Square, a fine dining favorite of mine, would definitely be able to do a private room and have great food and service, but the entree prices are a bit more expensive.

      1 Reply
      1. re: AmyNC

        Thanks, Amy! I'll definitely check all three out. I definitely looking forward to my visit later this month.

      2. Down the road in Chapel Hill (but near I-40), Aurora is good for big parties. Good food (Italian), I'd consider it moderately priced for this area - and if you want to mix and mingle, rather than have a sit-down, you can order a spread of heavy apps/pizzas in their (very large) bar area, which has a lot of tables where people can gather. They do sit-down dinners and buffets as well, but that may be more than you want. http://www.aurorarestaurant.com/

        In Durham, Parizade is also quite used to large parties - very good food, on the more expensive side. They could probably also do a pre-ordered or heavy app. spread for you if you wanted. http://www.ghgrestaurants.com/parizad...

        1 Reply
        1. re: dubedo

          Thank you, Dubedo. Aurora's been mentioned a couple of times by some work acquaintances. They sound like a good option. I'll give them a call.