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'Hound rehearsal dinner in Durham or Chapel Hill?

I am working on finding a place to have a good dinner for 40-50 people in Chapel Hill (preferred) or Durham next year, and although my mental encyclopedia of Triangle restaurants is lengthy, I am having trouble coming up with places with that much space. Now we are really lamenting the passing of Aurora, it would have been perfect! Renting out an entire restaurant is a possibility, if they're open to that. The only place my mother-in-law-to-be found was the Sienna, which is a bit more stiff and formal than we were hoping for. Have any of you been to events like this at a local restaurant that you thought came out well - good food, professional service?

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  1. If Cary is not out of the question, An could be a possibility. Has several private rooms, depending on time of year there is a large patio with a fireplace (I seem to remember), also one part of the restaurant is to the side & seemed like it could be sectioned off. Food & service was fantastic. Congratulations on your upcoming marriage!
    http://www.ancuisines.com/

    1. Top of the Hill and Spanky's both do rehearsal dinners for that size. Spanky's has a special menu that they'll do. I'm not sure how formal you want it, though.

      1. I've been to one at La Rez that was pleasant.

        1. The Carolina Inn is the place to go. 4 star 4 diamond and the location is the best

          1. Here's a very different suggestion, and I apologize in advance if this isn't upscale enough.... Sitar India Palace in Durham has a private room that I think will accomodate that number of people. I think it's good value in terms of food and service, with the main downside being the strip mall location. I've been to a couple of events there (a bridal shower, a pre-wedding family gathering) and had a good time both times.

            1. Thank you all for your suggestions! I think we are going to end up having it at the Weathervane (Southern Season), which I hadn't even thought of. You can rent any of their spaces for private parties. One nice thing about Weathervane is that you can either buy wine off their list (retail), or you can serve wine you purchased at Southern Season for a $7 a bottle corking fee - which, relative to other places, strikes me as reasonable.

              2 Replies
              1. re: dubedo

                I don't know why I didn't think of Fearrington Village earlier. I've been to several weddings, receptions, dinners, etc. there and you honestly can't beat the ambiance.

                Good luck at Weathervane. We always enjoyed eating there until our most recent visit, which will be our last thanks to rude service and food that looked like it had been scraped up off of the floor and served to us. Hopefully that was a one-time glitch!

                1. re: Suzy Q

                  Fearrington is where our wedding/reception is - so I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it!

              2. While I wouldn't go there on my own for dinner, I attended a very successful rehearsal dinner at Spice Street a couple of years ago. They had the upstairs room (which I had never noticed) as well as the downstairs dining room booked, but IIRC the bar area was open to the public. I thought this was a great rehearsal dinner. The food was pretty decent (relative to other rehearsal/large party type events), but the atmosphere was great. Plenty of room to walk around and mingle, retreat to the bar or those cool chairs outside on the patio, and just generally a fun little playground for a large group of friends and family.

                I have attended large-group dinners at Aurora and La Rez as well, and while the food is alright (again, relatively speaking), they weren't as fluid, and you felt like you were confined to your tablemates for the evening (which can be a drag).

                Anyways, sounds like Weathervane is a lock. Hope you enjoy.

                1. If you're not locked in to Weathervane (I also have had several "so-so" experiences there when invited by friends to meet -- i.e., not my choice to go) -- consider Starlu in Durham -- they have a separate private room and you can work with the chef to come up with a custom menu.

                  I concur on the Sitar India recommendation -- very, very good food. Could be a fun menu.

                  1. I've arranged work related functions for parties that size and larger at Spice Street, Siena and Starlu. All were good.

                    Had dinner at Il Patio Saturday night - a friend was in town and staying at the Siena. The food was excellent - and the food at the work-related dinner party I arranged was also excellent. If it's in your price range I'd check that out. I don't know if I'd exactly call it stiff and formal - fancier that most, yes, but very pleasant - the food is really good and the employees very accommodating and nice to work with.

                    1. I had mine at Four Square last summer, and they did an excellent job. That might get pricey for the number of people you're expecting, but we really enjoyed ourselves.