Caterer for parents' anniversary party in east Toronto; Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, or Balkan-type cuisines
My sister and I are throwing a surprise anniversary party for our parents (40 years!), and could use help in finding good catering. Here are the details for what we’re planning and looking for:
- Cuisine types: Mediterranean, Middle Eastern or Balkan, such as Tunisian, Turkish, Afghani, Persian, Greek, etc.
- Location will be at their friends’ house in east Toronto, near Gerard St. and Woodbine Ave. (close to “little India”)
- Catering for about 35 people
- It will be a Saturday afternoon luncheon
- Price range: Around $800. If this is unrealistic, we'd also appreciate info on that.
- A caterer who could also provide plates, cutlery, glassware, etc. for guests
- We would provide our own alcohol
Thanks Chowhounders! I look forward to hearing and heeding your advice.
I wanted to report back to you on my progress. I did indeed contact the Afghan Womens Organization catering service, but I was only in Toronto for a few days, and unfortunately they got back to me rather slowly and I didn't have a chance to discuss further with them or even sample their food. If more develops on that front, I'll report on that.
In the interim, I decided to check out two Persian restaurants: The Pomegranate, and Alborz Restaurant up at Yonge and Drewry. The bottom line is that we will probably be going with Alborz for catering our event.
My partner and I decided to have a meal at each place, and we called ahead to both establishments to let them know we’re interested in catering an event. The owner of the Pomegranate was very courteous with us (unfortunately I don’t remember her name, but I believe she’s the co-owner with her Iranian husband), and was helpful in offering information. But the catering prices are the same as the restaurant dining prices, and I think that is odd given that catering menus are usually somewhat lower than restaurant dining prices. Also, they won’t deliver the food. While they were “correct” with us, and while we enjoyed the food, there was a rigidity in their approach which left us with feeling that we wanted to look elsewhere.
Alborz was a different story. Unfortunately the owner, Farid, wasn’t in, but the server was very gracious and patient with us, plus he knew to expect us. Ultimately we got to taste lots of food, much of which we weren’t charged for. We tried three skewers of grilled meat (chicken, delicious veal, and ground beef and veal patties) served with rice and grilled tomatoes, a melt-in-your-mouth warm eggplant appetizer called ‘Kashke Bodemjan,’ home-made meat dolma, all of which are served with pita bread and a plate of fresh onions, parsley and radishes. We were stuffed to the brim, and took half of it home. He also gave us a taste of their deserts, including Zoolbia & Bamieh which I think are fried semolina flour pastries soaked in honey, and some of the tastiest baklava I’ve ever had. The baklava is full of cardamom, and is more ground nuts than pastry.
Then we discussed prices and menu. They do deliver, though due to the distance from their restaurant it will be an added charge (to be determined how much), and the catering prices, like their take-out menu prices, are about 10% lower than restaurant prices. They’re also willing to adjust some recipes for us, such as making the dolma vegetarian. Generally there was a willingness to satisfy their customers and work with them which we didn’t sense with the Pomegranate.
We left happy and satiated, and I think we’ll probably go with them. One caveat is that while we didn’t try the lettuce salads, we saw on the menu that they’re made with iceberg and romaine lettuces, which don’t much excite us. I’m guessing that lettuce salads aren’t part of Persian cuisine? So we’ll just make our own, rather than order from them. I should also add that we were the only people in the restaurant who didn’t speak Persian, and they were doing pretty good business for a Wednesday lunch. Here’s the website:
The event is a long time away, so I’ll report back in a few months how it all unfolded.
Thanks for all of your advice!
re: Vinnie Vidimangi
Here's a rough calculation:
The menu on the web site shows "combinations" (2 skewers of different meats) with rice for $17.50 to $25.50, say $20 average. A combo platter of appetizers is $24, say $6 per head. Baclava is $4. That adds up to $30 a head, minus a 10% discount --- $27 times 35 = $945 total, plus delivery and cutlery rental.
15 vaziri $16/serving $240
10 veggie skewers $11/serving $110
10 fasenjan $13/serving $130
10 Borani spinach $4/serving $40
10 Kashke Bodemjan $6/serving $60
7 orders of Dolma estimated at $9/serving $63
10 orders of Baclava estimated $3.5/serving $35
estimated total before tax $678
With tax $780
Plus estimated delivery cost @ $50 $830
We'll purchase seperately:
- wine (light drinkers, =$150 for wine)
- disposable plates, cutlery, cups
- make own green salad ($15)
- cake (around$100)
Total will be around $1100, amounting to about $32/person
Now that the party is behind us (took place yesterday), here’s my report on Alborz.
The cost estimate I calculated above was quite close to the actual costs, which amounted to $785 including tax and delivery. We ordered food for 40 guests, but the food delivered could have fed 45. Farid (the owner of Alborz, perhaps he has a partner but I’m not sure about that) was punctual and a pleasure to work with. He recommended I make some changes to my initial order, such as foregoing the dolmah which he thought added a lot to the overall costs. We had a mix of grilled meats, a pomegranate and chicken stew, several appetizers with eggplant, spinach and yoghurt, rice and bread. He threw in some additional orders of meat, appetizers, and rice for good measure. It was almost exactly the order predicted above. I asked that he arrive at 12:15, and this was key since it was a surprise party and everything needed to be in order in time. Farid arrived at 12:13.
The delivery point was a bit far from Drewry and Yonge - all the way to the little India area around Coxwell and Gerrard E., so while the food was hot upon arrival, it was lukewarm by the time of its consumption. We could have had the food heated with delivery for an added charge, but had decided not to pay for this. Still, the guests were very pleased, and many took a business card for future reference. I was so pleased with the food and the conscientious service Alborz provided that I called the day after the party to thank the restaurant.
Other costs were: Cake (toasted almond meringue cake from Dufflet at $130 – a big hit, though very messy to serve), wine ($134 at the LCBO - which apropos of nothing to do with this posting, is an institution which really has got to go...), and some additional items purchased at Costco for a green salad, fruit, soft drinks, and napkins amounting to about $65. In all, a total cost of $1114 for 40 guests, hence $28/guest.
I have been to several events catered by the Afghan Womens Organization's catering service - http://www.awcg.org/ - food was great always. i would guess that if the food is served buffet style $800 should be sufficient to serve 40people, i guess it would depend on the selections included ie. more expensive meat/fish dishes as opp to mostly vegetarina dishes
With all the whoop- de- do involved and so few people, I think that the price is too low to be realistic if you want something good. My suggestion is to book a restaurant for the Saturday afternoon. You can have a wonderful meal for this money .
My suggestions are:
Tangine, Lawrence just east of Pharmacy, across from Nasr. 416 750 0770. Beautiful, refined Moroccan cooking, no heat , no grease. Nice comfy room. Their style of Moroccan cooking depends on the dishes being freshly made; if not, they disappoint. So limit the choices of dishes and stipulate freshness of preparation although I don't know if the latter precaution is necessary.
Bistro Camino, Danforth at Dawes. 416-698-0283. Hiro-san the chef/ owner is a pro at what you want. Trained as a French chef in Japan, formerly at Osgoode Hall, York Club, fancy hotels; all places that run many banquets for fancy people. He likes to please. He will give you something good and a bit interesting, perhaps with a bit of a a Japanese influence if you ask. The room is also comfortable and glitz free.
I am a regular at these places because the cooking is very good and the billing is modest. I know that both these places will give you delightful, generous lunch for the money.
Please let us know how you make out
re: Vinnie Vidimangi
I meant the price is too low because I calculated it out per person. There are too few people at that price per person.
Tagine is hallal-- Muslim kosher. Islam forbids alcohol. But you should ask whether they make a compromise and if so its nature. So one Algerian owner I knew would permit wine for his guests, but he wouldn't touch the bottles. The upside is that if they permit booze, they probably won't charge you if you bring your own. Bring plastic cups?
Perhaps you need to decide whether you will forego booze in order to get an excellent meal.