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Nov 26, 2008 11:44 AM

SF/East Bay Wedding Reception Recs

Hello Bay Area Chowhounders:

we're currently looking for a wedding reception venue that can seat around 50-80 people for Fall 2009. While a view, and ambiance would be nice, superb food is a number one priority (so we'd like to avoid caterers). Our first choice was Foreign Cinema but unfortunately, the date we wanted is booked. Some other venue ideas were Farallon and Cliff House, but we haven't personally dined there. Western food and SF location preferred (but East Bay is fine as well). Looking forward to any ideas, experiences, stories, etc. you all have to share and thanks for helping us with the big day!

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  1. Our daughter got married and had her reception at the Great American Music Hall. Although it was catered, the food was really excellent. Passed hors d'oeuvres and cocktails to start and then each person had a lovely piece of halibut and about half a filet mignon. Little pitchers of sauces were on each table, one for the beef, another for the fish. Check out their website and see how glamourous it is. If you might be interested, I can ask my daughter who handled the catering. Best wishes.

    3 Replies
    1. re: c oliver

      We've been the the Great American Music Hall. Looking at the site, it seems like the venue is larger than necessary for a party of our size where the venue and food costs would become prohibitive. But, the caterer may prove helpful for future reference.

      1. re: koi

        I'll check with Amanda. Their group was about 80, I'm guessing. She's a pretty frugal lady. I'll pass the word along.

        1. re: koi

          Checked with our daughter and the price IS astronomical. Glad we just made a "donation" to the wedding and didn't pick up the whole tab :) AND GAMH have their own kitchen and staff so I won't be referring you to a caterer. But sounds like you're going to get plenty of advice. Have a wonderful time planning.

      2. I recently went to the Cliff House for a wedding and would not recommend the place. Even though the building itself and the view is spectacular, the room the banquet was in is outdated and the food horrible. They served passed apps, some chicken entree with 80s plating and dessert that was still frozen. The service was very good though.

        2 Replies
        1. re: calalilly

          Thanks for the report Calalilly. The restaurant did look to have a very nice view from the photos... too bad the food doesn't seem to match.

          1. re: koi

            Opentable has a list of restaurants for events

            That description matches my Thanksgiving dinner a few years back at the Cliff House. The banquet room is ugly like any hotel banquet room. The view is not as nice as upstairs.

            I was underwhelmed by my long ago dinner at Farralon. Few reports over the years would make me change that impression.

            Aziza can seat groups from 25 to 130

            Other restaurants in the Places database flagged as being able to seat 80
            Bin 38, McCormick & Kuleto's (there's your view, if not food), Jack Falstaff, Park Chow, Acme Chop House (75, actually), Bong Su, Rose Pistola, Fleur de Lys (tho I'm guessing out of the price range), The Rotunda at Nieman Marcus, Cafe Bastille, Campton Place.
            There are a few more for the lower end of your estimate like Epic and some that you probably wouldn't be interested in like Figaro.that can seat all 80.

        2. I'm curious why you think a restaurant will necessarily have better food than a caterer. My experience is that a good caterer will provide better food than a banquet at a restaurant, plus you'll be able to personalize the menu and get exactly what you want.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            Hi Ruth. We were thinking restaurants as opposed to caterers because we've had limited experience with caterers. Maybe there's a paucity of good caterers, but we've been underwhelmed by the catered food we've had at receptions. But, there are a plethora of great restaurants in the SF which people have had experience with, so maybe our luck would be better there. If there are any caterers you'd like to recommend, we'd be happy to hear about them but are leaning toward restaurants at the moment. Thanks!

            1. re: koi

              Our daughter and SIL will be here all weekend. I'll find out who she used. The food, service, everything was great. And I'd have said that if I ordered it in a restaurant.

              1. re: koi

                The problem is that the food a restaurant serves from a menu is not necessarily the same as the food it serves for a banquet, which is usually simplified/dumbed down to make it possible to serve 80 meals at the same time.

                One caterer who has gotten nothing but raves from chowhounds is Ann Walker Catering. I'm not sure which of these listings is correct -- maybe on is her office and one is her kitchen. If you click on the listing you'll get a page that has several threads where she -- and other caterers -- are discussed.

                Ann Walker Catering
                40 Kensington Rd, San Anselmo, CA 94960

                Ann Walker Catering
                1600 Mission Ave, San Rafael, CA

            2. The original comment has been removed
              1. RWOrange - Thanks for the links referring to the restaurants with capacity information. They're very helpful, but I have to try and weed out those with outstanding food, and hopefully not simplified menus as Ruth stated earlier.

                Ruth - We will give Ann a call and see what she can do for us.

                C Oliver - Appreciate you checking in with your daughter to find out about their services.