Birmingham, AL wedding rehearsal dinner
I'm getting married in Birmingham, AL in June 2009. I'm looking for a rehearsal dinner location for around 40-50 people. From what my fiancee's folks have found out so far, it looks like mostly caterers, etc., but not a lot of reasonably priced in-house stuff. This need not be a fancy meal, but just decent quality and value. So...
1) Are caterers the only game in town, or are there some good private rooms in restaurants?
2) Is there anything downtown or toward Trussville? The wedding is at St. Paul Cathedral downtown, and people will probably be staying down there, too, so it would be great to find a site down there.
3) Any ideas on prices (i.e., what is acceptable for this area)?
I'm not from the Birmingham area, so your input is appreciated. I really enjoyed a wedding in PA this summer that just had a private room in the upstairs of a pub...classy, but fairly simple buffet style food.
There are many good choices downtown:
John's City Diner can accomodate groups in a room, the prices are reasonable, and the food quality is good (not always great, but always good). I have had multiple private dinners there and been satisfied. The atmosphere is old fashioned diner, and a bit dated. There website has sample party menus.
Cafe Dupont has a private room, I do not know the seating capacity. Definately pricier, but the quality of the dishes is a step up from John's as well. I have had spotty experiences with them both in food and service. Always good, but not alway what is expected at the fine dining prices. The private room is very nice, it is on the second floor and overlooking the street through large plate glass windows.
B&A warehouse is an event space downtown. Interesting rustic warehouse atmoshpere. I have never had a sit down dinner there, but have been to many cocktail events and the food is always excellent. They have multiple rooms for different size events.
Big Daddy has given you some excellent advice. I agree with Cafe Dupont which is simple yet elegant and the food is always good. I don't care for the quality of food at Icon, and the FIsh Market has the atmosphere of a convenience store, but depending on your budget these might be more in line of what you are looking for. Caterers such as B&A Warehouse and Kathy G's have venues for private rental and can work within a budget. But remember most of all to have fun and don't get too stressed out.
There are several very good places to have a wedding rehearsal dinner. The first one that comes to mind is the Veranda on Highland http://www.verandaonhighland.com/parties.html They have great private rooms and the menu for parties are priced VERY reasonably. My sister had her rehearsal dinner there and it was one of the best values that we found in the city after calling dozens of places. Also, John's City diner http://www.birminghammenus.com/johns/ was one she almost did. Great menu value and private rooms. They have a downtown location and one in Trussville. You didn't say what you think is reasonable per person, but the menus for either of these places are around $24-$30 per person for 3 or 4 courses. That is a pretty good value in the B'ham area for a "nice" dinner. If that is way off your idea of value let me know and I'll update my suggestions. Good Luck!
In a pub, huh? For that atmosphere, try J Clyde's in 5 Points South. It's a beer bar, decent food. Might be able to accomodate you. jclyde.com.
Downtown, there are two good restaurants -- one is Icon at the Tutwiler Hotel downtown. The other, and more recommended, is Cafe Dupont (205) 322-1282). Nice restaurant, good food, nice upstairs area that would be perfect for what you seek.
Also, try the Fish Market, which is just outside the downtown area. Far more casual, but good quality food and they have a shuttle they might be able to use to ferry your folks (205-322-3330).
A word of warning: On Father's Day weekend, the city hosts its music street festival downtown, called City Stages. Most hotel rooms in the area you seek will be booked.
Good luck on the planning and congratulations.