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Oct 18, 2007 12:07 PM

Holiday Party restaurant ideas (Philly)

Looking to get ideas of places to hold a work holiday lunch. Office is in center city area, but doesn't have to be limited to just there, just not too inconvenient. Maybe around 20 people - not too pricey as it is out of pocket, not office paying.

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  1. I'd consider Maggiano's. It is fairly inexpensive, it can accomodate your group and they have a nice lunch menu.

    1. perhaps buddakan can make space for you upstairs? i've seen large parties there.

      1. Figs is now serving lunch with Mustapha at the helm.
        Matyson has a nice lunch menu.

        For something inexpensive,fun and different; try Nam Phoung

        1. thanks for the ideas so far- but there must be more places! where have you all had any work outings as a large group?

          1 Reply
          1. re: readytocook

            The Melting Pot is fun for a group. I know it's kind of a chain, but we've used them for work outings and everyone enjoys it. The fondue experience is fun & different...Not sure if they're open for lunch, and dinner can get a little pricey...not sure what your budget is...

            We also do hibachi pretty often for work things. That's fun & not too expensive.

          2. i'm pretty certain i'm doing matyson for one group's holiday party (small group) and la famiglia for the other one. i've got reservations, but never done either, so i can't really comment yet....

            5 Replies
            1. re: rabidog

              all right, our holiday party situations are all set... one group vetoed matyson (too far) so i had to give up those reservations (sob!) and instead we are doing the dilworthtown inn. still, i've never been there, so i'm excited.

              the other group is willing to venture down to center city with me for dinner at la famiglia. i got sent out to preview the restaurant first (...rough job...) and while i was there i asked to see the private rooms, too, for future, larger events... i plan a lot of meetings in center city. they have two private rooms, one downstairs and one upstairs. the downstairs one is in the wine cellar, a stunning room, albeit freezing cold. well, it is the wine cellar... probably holds somewhere around 20 if my memory serves me correctly? the upstairs room would hold many, many more, and has its own bar, and pretty murals painted on the walls.

              my dinner was nice. i had three courses and a glass of wine with each course. all the food i ordered was off the specials menu. first was a minestrone, which was just a good, plain ole minestrone. i had no complaints; it's hard to complain about minestrone. lots of complimentary snacks, too... a plate of breadsticks (these were awkward, to be frank... very dense, i don't think they used yeast... reminiscent of my own home excursions in bread baking...), two slices of bruschetta, and bread with roasted red peppers in olive oil. had a red wine with all of this, which i wish i could remember because it was heavenly with the roasted red peppers. next up i had a weird zucchini mush tower; i'm sure i would have been kicked out of the restaurant if they heard me describe it like that... but a sort of pureed zucchini pressed together in a cone shape with a zuc cream sauce and some random peas. very artful and VERY heavy. i could only eat half. and in my opinion, there should have been a contrasting texture, something chewy, or better still, crispy. unclassy as it may be, i could picture some fried shoestring potatoes atop it to complement the dish nicely. this is something that someone with their tonsils just out could swallow. had this course alongside a pinot gris. i was full at that point, which was unfortunate because i had already ordered the heaviest entree one possibly could... a cheese ravioli in a cream sauce with black truffle freshly shaven atop tableside. they recommended for me a red wine that was perfect because it was sorta dry and earthy ... i made the mistake of telling them it went well with the mushrooms for its earthiness... truffles, i was corrected. :) obviously, i am not a member of high society. anyway, would have liked the pasta a little thicker and maybe some spinach filling with the cheese to cut all that heaviness just a bit and give the dish another dimension. now that i've typed all that up, i think i've come to the conclusion that it is very "safe" food. nowhere was there anything extreme about my meal, which is not my personal preference. however i think it's perfect for my group, seeing as some of them are fairly conservative and some are wine aficionados... i only saw the wines by the glass list, and i was impressed; loved every wine i had. i'd recommend the place to anyone with a large party to please and an expense account. the bill for one was $103 before tip.
              service there was very professional and extremely attentive. the very second i put the menu down, my waiter was over to take my order. i had two waiters, actually, and a busboy. a lot of fuss for a solo table. which is another good reason to give it a nod for a group. i watched several other large tables be served while i was there, and with a nearly full dining room i saw no table left unattended.
              oh, and on ambiance and the little details... the dining room itself is stunning... beautifully decorated with some holiday touches. very loud, though. for my group i was sure to request a corner table for that reason. during my solo meal, i had the pleasure of witnessing the most insincere, corny sales pitch i've ever seen which echoed all the way over from a table against the other wall. i wanted to strut across the restaurant and fire the desperate sales guy myself. some of the patrons were straight out of a made-for-TV movie, i swear! dining alone never ceases to entertain me.
              so, there it is, looking forward to next week and i'll be back with more reviews...

              1. re: rabidog

                rabidog- thanks for the great writeup. I was only at DT Inn once, about 4 yrs. ago - and it was fussy but the food was v. good. The best things to order seemed to be traditional dishes ie surf & turf, etc. Although I would have died to go to a holiday meal at Matyson, I can see how DT is a good crowd pleaser. Fancy comfort food for everyone.

                BTW, for your party, if they do have calamari on the menu i would get it. When I was there, it was the BEST I've ever had. To this day.

                1. re: DanielleM

                  ahhhh, you're right - every time a party ordered that calamari, i'd breathe in deeply so i could let all its wonders sink in!!! we had two orders of it. it was so good.

                  in short, out of all the more "upscale" places i've done around philly, dilworthtown inn wins hands-down. with the historic rooms and cozy fireplace, the place actually DOES feel "special" rather than just "expensive." i can't stand how many places i've been to lately fall into that latter category. anyway, service at dilworthtown inn was superb. we hung out at the bar for awhile waiting for our party to arrive, and they seated us promptly when we were ready. we had and shared various apps, the lobster mac, the calamari, the crabcakes. the crabcakes were amazing, too - super rich, very flavorful. on to the main course, i had a fish; i'm pretty sure it was a cod - my memory fails me 8 days later! perfectly seasoned and cooked. for dessert, i had a sorbet duo - tangerine and something else i can't recall... pomegrante, maybe? my boss said he'd have just a taste and then ended up eating half the thing! it really was that good. the tangerine was perfectly tart. all wines were great... a really special evening.

                  my second dinner, the group dinner, at la famiglia, was just OK in comparison. there was nothing special about my homemade pasta in sauce with olives and capers (a usual favorite of mine). had a branzino in a mustard sauce, which was interesting - i should have opted for the more traditional lemon butter sauce, methinks... filleted tableside which was interesting to watch (or not, according to some more squeamish members of the party!). according to my boss, who gets to travel to italy three times a year, a very authentic italian meal with lots of lag in between courses and cappucinos coming out after dessert -- i suppose you can give it marks for authenticity, but really that just annoys me, personally - still, i can't hold that against the restaurant i suppose. to another note - i had just learned about the time lapses and the coffee/dessert separation - i previously didn't know this, so i should correct a previous posting where this had also annoyed me at modo mio (for the record, the apparently authentic touches were the only thing that annoyed me at modo mio!). anyway, quite a good meal, and even considering italian is one of my fave cuisines and american/traditional is my least favorite, i've got to give the best xmas dinner award to the dilworthtown inn over la famiglia. they also exceeded a third dinner at cedar hollow (i work for a lot of bosses...) and last year's dinner at the general warren inn. therefore, i'm making early reservations for next year! :)

                2. re: rabidog

                  Have you tried La Famiglia's sister restaurant in the Penn's View Inn just across Market Street, Panorama? They actually have (or had) a cheese ravioli with a spinach sauce (no truffles though) They wouldn't be extreme but I think they tend to be a bit more adventurous than La Famiglia. And the wine flights are wonderful

                  1. re: Bigley9

                    calamari at DT it is :) i'll let you know how it works out...

                    i didn't know panorama was their sister restaurant... i know la castagne is, but i wasn't a big fan of them at all. of the three, panorama is my personal fave. loved my wine flight (it was a sauvignon blanc flight with three excellent wines and a couple others)... i remember liking the food there, too. a few notches below the others price-wise... which is fine by me. yes, i do remember them being on the more creative side.