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Jan 31, 2009 02:33 PM

Foodie Wedding

Hi Hounders...

I'm excited... I got engaged. Yay! I am so happy to be marrying the man I love. But now I have to try to plan a wedding. And every time I see a white gazebo and a "outside caterer prohibited" I get sick to my stomach and want to run to Vegas. Unfortunately I am my Dad's only child to walk down the isle, and I think my mom will die if she doesn’t see me in a wedding dress.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE help me find a un-lame foodie venue for my wedding that will not completely bankrupt me! For example, Cafe Pinot will cost $15,000 and even though it is Patina catering they still offer the standard chicken or beef entree. My head is spinning looking at all the options, and none of them seem to be me. Does anyone have a recommendation for a restaurant or venue to fit 80 people with GOOD food and wine?!?

Thanks so much

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  1. my friend had an amazing wedding reception at the Pasadena Museum of California Art, which has a beautiful rooftop, and it was catered by Chichen Itza. Instead of a cake they had cupcakes at the end but I don't recall where they were from. Everybody loved the food, and the ambiance was magical. I know for a fact she and her husband had a pretty low budget, and they are both foodies...

    1. The wedding reception that I wished I had been invited to was discussed on this board a couple of years ago. The dinner was at a Chinese banquet hall restaurant in the SGV. I recall they bought massive amounts of Langer's pastrami and loaves of their twice-baked rye bread to compose mini sandwiches as a starter course. Then each table of ten to twelve was treated to a fairly elaborate Chinese multi-course feast, served family style. If I recall correctly, as long as you stay away from the supremely expensive items, such as the sharks fin soup or lobster, you can put together a feast including soup, appetizers, noodles, entrees including fresh seafood, meat and chicken entrees, vegies, and rice, for an amazingly reasonable amount -- very close to what the same meal would cost per person for a large family sharing a table for a weekend dinner. And for foodies, much more exciting than the same old composed passed hors d'oevres and choice of chicken, fish or beef.

      Fellow SoCal 'hounds, please refresh my memory as to which of our contributors hosted this wonderful event. And to the one who I seem to remember as the groom, my apologies for not crediting you correctly. Finally, our valued friends Dommy! and Mattapoisset recently tied the knot and discussed their attempts to have a reasonable but delicious family-style reception dinner, so perhaps they can share some of their research.

      3 Replies
      1. re: nosh

        I'd say either Mr Taster or Das Ubergeek? I remember reading the post, but I'm not sure who it was.

          1. re: mpken

            Thank you for finding the thread. My guess was pretty close -- almost exactly two years ago. And what fun to reread the description, comments, and good wishes.

        1. I was at a wedding at then Patina now Providence that was held in the room on the right when you enter, but that might not fit the no bankrupt bill. I think that Bistro Gardens in the Valley is one of the prettiest restaurants around, also Campanille has private rooms upstairs but I think 80 might be too large for that. Also, I was at a wedding some time ago in Malibu at this historic house on the beach, right near where they surf, with a courtyard and all, I am sure someone knows the name, this was very nice and I think you could bring in your own catering. The San Gabriel Valley is chock full of Chinese wedding banquet places that would run you cheaper I am sure and have a lot more food with more courses.

          La Cachette in Century City and Chez Mimi in Brentwood are both nice, both on the smaller side, private rooms/patio areas at Chez Mimi, not so at La Cachette, but maybe they are closed one night?

          1. I don't know your budget at all but the Walt Disney Concert Hall is a great place to hold a wedding. You must have Patina cater the event but they are actually quite wonderful. You can even bring dish ideas or specific recipes and they will easily accommodate that. They'll roll fresh pasta for your guests if you want it. They'll cook grandma's recipe for short ribs if you want that. The food is quite reasonable for what you're getting. The cake prices are outrageous and the slicing fee prohibitive. The alcohol can get pricey but they do allow you to bring wine for a corkage fee (negotiate with that fee. They will go down guaranteed).

            In particular, I think you'd enjoy the Founder's Room. That's the large donor's exclusive restaurant. I think it's beautiful and intimate and will easily fit 80 people and a dance floor if you like. The ceremony and cocktails can be held in the garden area. Check it out.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Frommtron

              would all the guests need to pay for the outrageous music center parking?

              1. re: Frommtron

                I am very interested in using the Disney hall for my wedding next year, do you have any advice? Things like the union fees and security seem like costs that could run up fast. Did it cost much more than you expected? I love Patina and grew up performing at the music center, so it seems like the perfect combination. Do you mind me asking your approximate budget? The rental prices for the founders room seem too good to be true (that being said, I live in NYC now where everything is insanely expensive)

                1. re: DLG42

                  Hi DLG42,
                  I don't post on these boards anymore, but I stumbled across you post and thought I'd reply. I'll try and answer you questions as they were asked.

                  1. Union fees, security fees, parking fees: Those came to about $1700 for us. That was in 2007 though.

                  2. Surprises: They always pop up. But I found Patina did a very nice job staying near our initial estimate. Even after we committed to the contract, we continued to make alterations and were able to cut costs.

                  3. I'm not comfortable divulging our overall budget, but if you're looking for a similar wedding in NYC you'd be paying double, at least. The Founder's Room rental fee is doubly wonderful because you do not need to pay for the kitchen set-up since the Founder's Room has a full restaurant kitchen. For our wedding they also were offering the Blue Ribbon Garden for an additional $1. So the ceremony can be outdoors in the garden and the reception can move into the Founder's Room. Have one of the Patina reps walk you through a very early proposal and see if all the estimates are in your general range. If so, you should be fine as their estimate proved reliable.

                  4. Someone else brought up parking. I think it would be kind of tacky to ask your guests pay for parking, but you can offer complimentary valet parking to your guests. All they need to do is drive up to the Patina valet and they will be taken care of. This is especially nice for older guests that may have a hard time moving around. In 2007, this was $12 per car. You can even budget in a tip and let your guests know that's been taken care of, too. Alternatively, you could offer complimentary self-parking (oxymoron?) at a price of $8 (in 2007, of course). Guests needed to arrive after 4 PM in order to get those prices as daytime parking has different rates.

                  I'll respond to the food issue most people brought up. I've been to Patina catered events plenty of times. And they have been pretty average every time. Certainly not the horror stories some posters experienced (all at the Descanso Gardens it seems), but just okay. I wouldn't have been happy at all with that food. The food at the wedding was not in the same league as those buffets. It was simply put, very good. Our main course was a wild striped bass with sauteed pea tendrils and a tangerine sauce . . . that we cribbed from the Sunday Suppers at Lucques cookbook. Our runner-up for a pasta course was taken from a Mario Batali cookbook using fresh pasta. I bring this up only to illustrate that Patina, a very fine restaurant in its own right, was really excited to prepare recipes that we provided to them for our tasting. The chef came out and thanked us for giving them a reason to roll out fresh pasta.

                  There are a ton of incredible caterers in LA and some really awesome venues. So it's not the only game in town, but we loved our day at Disney Hall and were very satisfied with Patina when cooking out of their home base.

                  Hope that helps and congratulations on the wedding. Good luck zeroing in on your location.

              2. whatever you do i would highly suggest staying away from patina catering. my wedding venue had a exclusive contract with patina catering and frankly they are really mediocre from food to the event coordinator. not unless they changed for the better stay away. the food was really blah and during the wedding they ran out of the red wine i purchased. so instead of consulting me they decided to start serving the low grade wine. i caught them in the act b/c first the wine started to taste bad so i walked into the kitchen and sure enough they were pouring the salmon creek. terrible people!

                what i do suggest is looking at places like pasadena museum or asian art museum in pasadena. you can get your own people like auntie em's or elements in pasadena. if budget is not too much of a concern kitchen for exploring foods does a wonderful job.

                3 Replies
                1. re: trolley

                  As I stated, my event was the polar opposite from trolley's. The event occurred in the summer of '07. People still talk about the food and wine (which we brought) and the service was fantastic. Also, we (the bride and groom) were taken care of every step of the way. I could enumerate dozens of little things that they did for us throughout the event that made everything go wonderfully.

                  Now, if trolley's event was before the summer of '07 then I may understand part of the problem -- the original event coordinator that we worked with was AWFUL and I am certain that she was asked to leave her position. The event coordinator we ended up with was incredible. Her name is Lindsay, think.

                  It might also be the location. Since our event was at the same general location as Patina and they were operating out of a full restaurant kitchen, I think that could have been another reason everything that came out of the kitchen was good.

                  1. re: Frommtron

                    wow frommtron. i wish our experience was like yours! ours was the polar opposite. our wedding was at descanso gardens and we loved the outdoor garden setting so that was our priority and food unfortunately came second.

                    no straying from the menu what's offered is what you get. there were choices of fish and meats. i believe vegetarian was ravioli. our wedding was in sept 07 and our coordinator was named nicole. she was just terrible and my other vendors who worked with descanso also nicely mentioned patina's unwillingness to bend the rules or negotiate ANYTHING. the fish tasted old and the short ribs were pretty good but how can anyone mess up braised ribs?

                    i think you're right about the location factor. if i could do it again iwould have kitchen for exploring foods at one of the museums, gamble house, ebell or the marmion.

                    1. re: trolley

                      I've also been to a wedding at Descanso Gardens catered by Patina, and it was horrible! The food was incredibly salty and incredibly boring. I also had the ravoii and it was revolting. I felt badly for the Bride and Groom, but fortunately they were too stressed to notice the sub-par food.

                      It's a gorgeous site, so it's too bad you're stuck with Patina if you want to use it!