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Sep 19, 2009 02:46 PM

How's the catering at Hart House?

My fiancé and I are considering Hart House as a venue for our wedding, specifically for the Music Room and the Debates Room. We’d have to use their in-house catering for a buffet dinner (around 85 guests), and were wondering if anyone has experienced a catered event there. Please note this is not part of the Gallery Grill, which I believe is a separate kitchen.

Any opinions to share?

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  1. Our division had an event there one evening and the food was very competent. Certainly not exceptionally fantastic but it was very good and I had no major complaints. We had some sort of salad, a steak and dessert and I remember everything to be good. It's been a while so I can't remember specific details but I do remember enjoying my meal and the evening itself. Service was very nice and friendly. If you have your wedding in the summer though, take into consideration they have no AC so it can get very hot and humid! Hope that helps and good luck with the planning! Congratulations :-)

    1 Reply
    1. re: ctl98

      Thanks for your thoughts, and your warnings regarding the AC. We're considering March, so that should be no problem. We were also looking into the Gladstone and the Academy of Spherical Arts. For those two locations you can at least check out their restaurants. We were advised to eat at the Gladstone's Harvest Wednesdays which approximates more their event catering, and very much enjoyed the meal. Problem is it might be too small for our needs. Can't say the same for Spherical Arts; nice space, but judging from the restaurant, the food leaves much to be desired. Some examples were dry bread that had been toasted and then buttered (maybe margarined), probably in a weak attempt to cover its staleness. This was part of the 'special' bread basket we had to pay for. We also ate an artichoke heart appetizer which was nothing more than canned artichokes, chili flakes, and goat cheese that was on the verge of spoiling.

      It's frustrating that the norm in Toronto is to book places for special events without being able to taste their catering. I don't like guestimating how good the food will be, given the financial commitment on our part, and given that we don't want to be ashamed by the food at our own special event.

    2. we got married at the Hart House and it was perfect for us. It was on a labour day weekend and the weather turned out to be one of the best days of the summer. We thought the food was quite good and definitely better than most banquet halls. We had no complaints and plenty of compliments with the food throughout the night. Our ceremony was outdoors, which is probably a bit cold if you are getting married in March. The dinner was in the main hall and is a beautiful room that didn't require much wrt decorating/flower costs.

      feel free to ask me any other questions about the venue.

      7 Replies
      1. re: igk

        Thanks for the reply!

        Someone we know had an event at Hart House 12 years ago, and were very unhappy with the catering. We understand that it's been totally revamped. Would you mind describing a bit more the meal? Was it buffet? Plated? What was on the menu? And in all, did you find the staff helpful and professional throughout the whole process. Oh, and another question: did you use their bar service?

        We're looking at the smaller rooms. Probably the Debates Room and the Music Room. Did you use the main hall for dining and for dancing?

        We're super grateful for your advice and info.

        1. re: greengirl

          we were in the main hall for dinner and dancing.
          dinner was a proper seated meal. there was a choice of main courses and a separate kids menu. there is a tasting, but not until after you book. however, i think there was the option for a refund if you weren't happy with the tasting, though you should ask about that yourself.

          various hors d'oeuvres during the cocktail time. i didn't get to try many, but people really liked them.
          mushroom soup: quite good
          pumpkin ravioli: amazing. we had this at our tasting and we both agreed that we had to have it for our wedding.
          choice of ribeye or cornish hen: i only tried the ribeye, very good, though i heard some people enjoyed the cornish hen more.
          molten chocolate cake: good, but i wouldn't say it was any better than it is elsewhere.

          service was very professional and helpful throughout the entire process. we had no problems with the Hart house service at all. everything went perfectly as we planned.

          yes, we used the bar service. it is by consumption and they let you choose what you want served and when you want it served. our bar was closed during dinner and only wine and beer was served with the meals. we brought in an ice statue to pour martinis through. the prices were reasonable, similar to average pub prices and definitely cheaper than many of the hotel banquet halls we looked at. the bartender was very responsible and turned away guests from any further drinks if they appeared to be having "too much fun".

          overall, we were very happy with the entire experience there.

          1. re: igk

            hi there i am wondering what the pricing was like per person at Hart House... do they only do by consumption bar or do they have bar packages? we are on a tight budget and am just wondering if they fit within it!

            1. re: oliverap

              it depends on what you want to serve. i can't remember exactly, but i think ours came out to about $100/head for the dinner before taxes/service charges/drinks. i don't really know, the wife took care of the planning. it's the most money i've spent in one day and didn't really want to know! having said that, we were very happy with the venue and wouldn't think twice to recommend it to someone else.

              they only had drinks by consumption, no packages. i think beer and bar drinks were in the $5-6 range i think. some were a bit more. i don't think any drinks were over $10.

              1. re: igk

                Igk knows more in terms of the actual costs, but I'm happy to share the estimated costs they've provided me.

                We asked for two price estimates; plated dinner and buffet. The estimate per person includes: hors d'oeuvres, dinner, desert table, drinks, GST, PST and 15% service tax, and space rental (which is variable depending on which rooms you rent). With plated dinner, it's estimated at about $160/person, and with buffet it's estimated to be between $113/person to 1$38/person, depending on the buffet menu you choose. Their beverage cost estimate assumes 5 drinks per person, at $6.25/drink. You could also ask that the bar only stock beverages that max at a certain amount, which could help control costs.

                And igk- thanks for your advice! I'll post an update soon as to how things proceed.

        2. re: igk

          Hi igk,

          My fiance and I are also considering Hart House for our wedding next year. We are thinking of last wk of august- do you think it may be too hot for that time? Another huge concern we have is that Hart House seems to be known to be a student 'cafe' hence- ppl I've asked who went to Uof T are skeptical that food will be good there...??!?!?! Pls advise as that is pretty much my main concern...

          My fiance and I both love the feel of the place but when we went to visit the place- there were high school tours taking place. Did you have any issues with students roaming around the building when you had your wedding?

          Greengirl- did you end up booking Hart house as well?

          1. re: mrs.hi

            I have not been to Hart House for a wedding specifically, but for various cocktail parties and faculty dinner/awards events. This is not exactly the student cafe as they offer a full catering service. And (!) not all students have poor taste in food! Catering is very competent and suitable for a range of tastes. The appetisers are very tasty. Don't expect tremendous ingenuity, but expect your fish or chicken breast to be cooked properly (i.e. not over cooked). Your other concerns re: students - it's a university! Hart House is a student hub...the gym opens late at night...students hang out. During August time...there will also be first years doing tons of campus tours. If you prefer to not have students roaming about your special event, perhaps Hart House is not your best choice. Good luck!