Calgary Off the Menu Group Dinner
We have a past work team that typically goes out for a group dinner once or twice a year. There's a pretty wide range of tastes, so a place that lets everyone order off the menu usually works best.
We've been to Brava Bistro, Cilantros, and Parker House with groups of 12 -16 in recent history, but this year it looks like we might be 18 or 19. We'd like to keep trying new places, but many now seem to require formal catering/event planning with set menus and prices per head.
I know the kitchens prefer to be able to prepare in advance, but since we only get together a couple times a year we'd be just as fine having another drink and catching up if we had to wait for staggered service.
Central to the downtown area would be best, but other areas could work. Venues with space for one large table, and prices comparable to the restaurants above would also be preferred. Any suggestions?
Just to let you know, we ended up having our group dinner at Jacqueline Suzanne's Bistro, http://www.jacquelinesuzannes.ca/, in Inglewood. They have a private loft space in the back, and rearranged it to give us one large table for 17. It is an older building so the loft ceiling is a little lower than normal, but after you're up there for a few minutes you don't even notice it. It's normally several square and round tables that seat up to 20, but the single large table worked well, and gave us a little room to stand and mingle with drinks before dinner.
They allowed us to order off the menu, and the group covered a fairly wide range, including salads, escargot in a parmesan cream sauce, crab cakes, a neptune beef tenderloin with king crab, the daily special chicken breast, and several of the prime ribs, to name a few. The prime rib is served Friday and Saturday, and the 10 oz and 15 oz servings both seemed very generous. The entrees also all arrived together, so kudos to the kitchen staff. The day's dessert specials included several flavors of creme brulee and cheesecake, along with tiramasu and baked apples.
The service was top notch (even with having to bound up and down the stairs) and the meal was a fantastic accompaniment to an evening of catching up with old friends and colleagues.
I had looked at several other places, but they were much more stringent in their requirements (e.g. Saltlik downstairs required $1500 minimum, Vintage needed a $500 deposit and set menu). Ric's Grill was willing to let us order off the menu, but their private room holds up to 50, so we would have been sharing it with another group.
If you have a group of similar size, I would certainly recommend Jacqueline Suzanne's.
Jacqueline Suzanne's Bistro
1219 9 Avenue S.E., Calgary, AB T2G 0S9, CA
A Chinese restaurant will accommodate a la carte for even larger groups, though you'll want to reserve tables in advance. And they won't have one large table to accommodate you all. In Chinatown, I like Gee Gong for dinner (I think they have two large round tables in the back).
This one is tough--some restaurants might do a limited menu for you instead of a set menu, so that there is still choice in dishes and prices.