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Rehearsal Dinner ideas

My fiancee and I are getting married just outside New Orleans next October and are looking for a rehearsal dinner site. She is from the Northshore, but my family is from Kentucky. I'm trying to help my parents by getting some information about local restaurants together.

We have around 50 guests that will be at the rehearsal dinner. Ideally, we would like to spend between $30-45/person and probably prefer something near hotels in the FQ. That price should not include alcohol, as we will not be having any at the rehearsal dinner. Our rehearsal (and wedding) is at Houmas House, but all of our guests are staying in New Orleans, so we will be returning to the city for dinner.

I have already looked into several places, including Crescent City Brewhouse (which I've gotten mixed reviews on), Bourbon House, Ralph's on the Park and Tujagues.

Any suggestions you might have would greatly help. We are now living in Nashville and will have to try places as we visit over the next few months. Thanks for all your help!

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  1. We had ours at Ralph's on the Park in one of their private rooms upstairs. Everything was excellent. It's not in or too near the quarter though, so that might be a problem for you. Otherwise, it's by far the best on your list. I highly recommend it. Try the pork with p&j oysters.

    1. I don't know how much those places are, but if you're looking for affordable but good, I suggest:

      Deanie's in the French Quarter
      Cheesecake Bistro on St. Charles Avenue
      Zea on St. Charles Avenue

      1. Muriels's at Jackson Square can pull a great menu and even better setting in one of their private rooms overlooking the Square.
        http://www.muriels.com/html/home.html

        not to take away from your wedding, but for your out of town guests, it could also be fun to get a tarot card reader set up in the Seance Room upstairs next to the private dining rooms. I've done this several times, and it is always great fun. Bottom of the Cup Tearoom can arrange. it justs adds that special NOLA feeling.

        4 Replies
        1. re: edible complex

          I had checked into Muriel's, but it was closer to $100/person plus tax and gratuity. Way out of our price range. Thanks for all the helpful suggestions. We've almost priced ourselves out of New Orleans, though. If we move out of the FQ and into Metairie and other surrounding areas, does that open up much else that would be good?

          1. re: marktylerj

            I just ate at Muriel's for their pre-theatre dinner at $23.50 pp for a 3 course. with a glass of wine and coffee, we were $50 inclusive. are you trying to do passed apps along with a dinner? or reception style dinner?

            I've done group dinners at Dickie Brennan's Steak House, Morton's (in Canal Place), the Westin at Canal Place (great balcony overlooking Qtr. and river), Carmello's (private rooms and balcony upstairs), House of Blues (in the Courtyard), Redfish Grill, Rib Room (Omni Royal Orleans), NOLA, Arnaud's, Ruth's Chris (now at Harrah's Hotel), and Napoleon House Emperor's Apartment.

            call any of these and ask for group sales and negotiate. the COOLinary menus have been averaging $30 pp for 3 course, so w/tax and tip you should be in budget. although COOLinary will be over, restaurants can do a prix fixe and should work with you.

            do not go to Metairie, you won't find much and you'll have transportation issues. and frankly, not many places in Metairie offer much ambience and prices won't vary that much to give up the charm of a QTR. location.

            1. re: edible complex

              Thanks for the helpful reply, edible complex. When I spoke with the group sales associate at Muriel's, I was told the minimum for food and beverage would be $4,000. That was for a group of 40. I definitely plan on speaking to more groups. Right now, Ralph's on the Park is looking pretty decent. I will check into more of your suggestions.

              Thanks again!

              1. re: marktylerj

                Ralph's will be better than Muriel's anyway. At muriel's you're paying for the French Quarter premium.

        2. I would call Maximo's. I hear their upstairs rooms will be open in October, and I recall that there are rooms to accomodate that many people. The normal menu is modestly priced, so they would likely work on a reasonably priced fixed menu with some variety. And its in a beautiful French Quarter building close to Frenchman street for those that want to listen to music afterward.

          I would also scour the quarter before heading to Metairie, particularly with out of town folks. Call a few smaller places, like Eat New Orleans on Dauphine, to see if you can take over the place for a night. But I would call Maximo's first.

          1. while not near the quarter..we used casamento's on magazine and had 50 people and were able to book out entire joint. seriously cool, check it out, oysters, gumbo, crab claws, ice cold abita and shrimp po-boys. what a night!

            1. Had our rehearsal dinner at Tujague's. While you can certainly find better food, you will be hard pressed to find it in that price range. They are super easy to work with, prixe-fixe menus, old New Orleans charm. Not a bad choice.

              1. Herbsaint - St Charles/CBD
                Bayona- Daulpine/french quarter
                Rio Mar-CBD/Warehouse
                La Boca-CBD/Warehouse
                Geutiere(Spell?)

                2 Replies
                1. re: cheesegrater

                  I would be very surprised if Herbsaint, Bayona, Gautreau's or La Boca fell into that price range. I would perhaps see if you could get the side room at Jacques-Imos, though it is uptown. Cochon perhaps could do something around that figure?

                  1. re: cheesegrater

                    At 50 guests, you're talking about a buyout, and buyouts are hella expensive. Probably in the 10-12k range for a place like herbsaint or Bayona. Cuvee' quoted us 12k for a buyout.

                  2. Wedding planning must be in the air! I just got back from NOLA and am planning my own rehearsal dinner for March 09. I really loved Palace Cafe, they just opened an upstairs room that is wonderful, and the food is really delicious. However, they have the same $4000 minimum as Muriel's (which I also looked at and loved). We are leaning towards Lil Dizzy's which is at the Wyndam Whitney on Poydras. It's not as fancy as other options but their food starts at 20 bucks a person (plus the 30% standard tax and gratituity). The space is beautiful (an old bank) and they are friendly (albeit a little disorganized). They are only open at lunch so you get the whole space for dinner (which would be fine, although close for 50 guests). I had a very good oyster and shrimp po boy sandwich and it is very local (not touristy like so many places in the quarter). Two other cheaper options in the quarter are La Bayou (and they own a bunch more) and Napoleon House. I decided against those based on bad food reviews on this board.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ZestyZ

                      FYI......while I agree the food served at the Napoleon House is merely okay, I found their catered food (when renting the reception room upstairs) to be outstanding. Their catering menu is different than their regular menu. Quite frankly, that may have been the best "wedding reception" grub I've had.

                      Note, this was reception fare......not a sit down meal.

                    2. My daughter is getting married at Houmas House in
                      March 2015. She has been recommended to Crescent
                      City Brewhouse also. Her officiator is trying to convince
                      her to have the rehearsal at the hotel in the FQ.

                      I think this is kind of scary because you put so much
                      time and effort into the planning and do not rehearse
                      there. Can you give a mom feedback on this issue?

                      A relative of ours had the Crescent City Brewhouse and
                      was very happy. It is right there in the quarters and
                      it is in the price range you want.

                      Thanks

                      Mona Porche