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MSP - Caterers/Restaurants that cater fun picnic-ish food

I'm am (finally!) graduating from grad school this May and am planning a party for friends and family. It will likely be in the early evening at one of the picnic shelters in S. Minneapolis. I'd like the food to be in the vein of either upscale or unique picnic food. I'm thinking we could get hot and cold dishes, as long as the hot are still tasty warm and at room temp. We'll probably have about 50 people including a dozen or so young children and would probably spend up to $500 (we'll buy soda and beer on our own). We'll have a handful of vegetarians so I'd like meat and veggie options, so that excludes BBQ or similar meat-focused cuisines.

I know people have had good luck with Chowgirls Catering, so we'll likely give them a call. I was also thinking of getting platters from Holy Land. In general I'd love any suggestions for caterers that can work in this budget or restaurants that have a good record of catering parties. Ideally someone could come out and set up the food and provide plates, utensils, etc. "Easy to work with" is huge as I'll be finishing my dissertation this spring and don't want to deal with lots of negotiations or decisions regarding the party.

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  1. Nina Wong at Chindian has catered several office and client events for us. Asian, vegetarian and non-veg options, delicious. A lot of finger foods (spring and egg rolls, cold peanut noodles, satays, etc), extremely delicious and she's fantastic to work with.

    1. PROM Catering. I know them from attending quite a few corporate events while working at different corps. I did not hire them/contact them/work with them but know they can do a wide range of get-to-gethers. My *feeling* is they can give you whatever you want.

      1. We've had good luck catering things from Broder's. They can do lots of finger foods and it all comes boxed and ready to take to your picnic shelter. There's no minimum and prices seem pretty reasonable. We just call them up, ask for help with ordering the right amount, and then it's ready when we need it.

        1. I believe that Brasa does catering.. at least out of the St. Paul location. And I think it would certainly be unique.

          1. Thank you, wonderful suggestions!

            I actually pass Chindian almost every day and have never stopped in there, we'll have to check it out with catering in mind.

            Regarding Brasa, how do vegetarians do there? I personally love their food, and think it's a fantastic idea for a party, but is it enough for vegetarians to eat a random assortment of (delicious) sides?

            4 Replies
            1. re: katebauer

              Yeah, I guess I'd call and ask which sides are (or can be) veg.... I know I could happily eat nothing but sides from there.... but others may feel differently....

              1. re: mtullius

                I had a chance to look at the catering menu tonight, which has things which are not on their regular menu. There were a few veggie entree options including grilled veggie sandwiches, some nice salads with grains, and a few soup options (which might be hard in a picnic setting). I think if all the sides we order are veggie and we got a hearty salad in addition to the meat we'd be set.

                Thanks for the suggestion, I'm really excited by this option!

                1. re: katebauer

                  Hope it works out with Brasa. Let us know how it goes, if you do go with them, since I don't think anyone on the board has used them? (If I'm wrong someone tell us!)

                  1. re: turtlebella

                    I work in NE and Brasa brought us a catered lunch when our office opened. Great food, of course. Big containers of roasted pork, chicken, rice and beans, cabbage slaw and the yams with sausage. It was a fill-your-plate and sit down style of meal, not "picnic-ish" but delicious.

            2. I would hit up Be'Wiched. They have outstanding meats and breads, and should be able to put something together in your price range.

              1. I have had great luck with Beyond Chocolates. Fantastic, original food and willing to work within your budget.

                http://beyondchocolates.com/