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Dec 22, 2008 08:19 PM

Private dinner party, unconventional?

I finally got around to trying to make reservations for a small dinner party for 30 people at L'Epicerie in Fort Greene only to find they've closed. (!)

I attended a small anniversary party there earlier this spring, and it was lovely—farmhouse tables, wildflowers on each, simple and exquisite three-course meal among friends with the chef attending to our needs the entire evening. Alas.

I've heard great things about Ici's private room upstairs, but this event isn't a wedding party, but a more informal party among friends. Is there anything similar to L'Epicerie in Brooklyn or beyond to do a private, even unconventional-style, dinner party for 30 people?

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  1. Convivium Osteria has an amazing wine cellar. I threw a great party there about 4 years ago. You can only seat ~24 people (exactly how many I had) but if you're willing to make it more of a mix and mingle thing (you did say unconventional!) they could hold 30.

    Also, if you wanted to take the price up a notch or three, applewood might accommodate you if it were on a Monday or Tuesday.


    2 Replies
    1. re: Peter

      Great suggestions—both. I didn't know of Convivium Osteria, and as it happens, I have exactly 25 people, including me. (I had just rounded up.) I'll look into prices per head on both.

      1. re: Lizzie D

        Glad to hear both are an option. Having eaten at both (C.O. about 6 times, applewood about 30ish times) here's my take:


        C.O. - Good, sometimes very good. Not really memorable though. Spanish/Portugese. Hearty. Think of dishes served in cast-iron. You'll likely have to stick to the menu because you'll be in the wine cellar but the main dining room will still be open.

        applewood -- always, always excellent, sometimes amazing excellent, and occasionally transporting. What style? Refined... modern American? Hard to say. Look at their menu online and you'll get it immediately And because you'll be taking over the place you'll very likely be able to craft your own menu through discussion with the owners.


        applewood is lovely and scores major points for having a fireplace but C.O. private room/wine cellar wins this round hands-down. All brick, low ceilings, archways, candles, hundreds of bottles of wine... maybe the prettiest room in Brooklyn.


        applewood's service is excellent. C.O. is known to have a fairly uneven service. When I had my private party downstairs it was a little annoying to have to wait for someone upstairs to check on us.


        applewood will very like a cost good bit more. Because of the commitment to local food, because of the more sophisticated culinary approach and because I suspect they'll have to close the place down for you (unless you go on a Monday). But that's not to say it's overpriced -- not at all -- it all depends on what you value.

        Setting it up/working with the owners...

        In both cases you'll very likely talk directly to the owner. Both Laura at applewood and Michelle at C.O. are great people. You won't have a problem with either.

        Bigger Picture...

        I don't know much about C.O.'s relationship to the local foodshed (anyone want to chime in here?). Applewood is extremely committed to servicing as much as they can that's local, organic, biodynamic, etc. They've held fundraisers for local farms in trouble and regular "meet the farmer" dinners where you have an extended interactive meal with a farmer who grows some of what applewood serves.

        Value: Tough call. applewood has much, much better food, but C.O. has a truly unique setting. I say both are an excellent value.

        Which to choose? Cost aside, I guess it all depends on what's more important to you -- the food or the setting?