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Mar 1, 2010 02:42 PM

Weddings at the Berkeley Church

I am looking for any recent experiences and feedback about food quality at the Berkeley Church. We are interested in booking a wedding there but the few reviews I have seen online were pretty negative (there were only three, but still!). We are between there and the Enoch Turner Schoolhouse with Daniel et Daniel (excellent caterers, I know).

I would love to hear your thoughts!

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  1. Congrats!

    Re: Food quality - I am assuming that BC has a preferred caterer list from which you can work from. I would suggest that you look at the venues, see which ones fit your "vision" for the event and review their caterer list. Then make a decision.

    1. My fiance and I booked our wedding for later this year at the Berkeley Church. I obviously can't give you any feedback yet but they have been great to deal with so far.

      I believe my fiance read the same bad reviews you had and we chose to ignore them. You never know who those people are writing bad reviews... some people have an axe to grind over a minor issue or have unrealistic expectations. Also remember that people aren't usually motivated to come online and write raving, positive reviews. When you have a bad experience, you want others to know and you want payback. You've seen yourself that anyone can write a bad review about a place and it gets you second guessing your decision.
      The Berkeley Church does a lot of weddings and considering you've come across 3 bad reviews, I'd say that's pretty good. Go with your gut... if the bad reviews scare you then don't book there.

      12 Replies
      1. re: sarnya

        I just got married at Berkeley Church in September '09. We had a fantastic experience. The food was very important to me and I got such a good vibe from Nathan (the chef). Basically, we met with him and our coordinator (provided by BC) and discussed what we wanted and what our ideas were. He made some suggestions and then later we had a tasting. We changed one of the hors d'oeuvres at the tasting and added a sauce for the beef.

        Serving seasonal and local food is important to me and Nathan totally agrees. Consequently we went with things like pickeral, tomatoes, beets, squash, etc.

        Lots of people loved our food and told us so after the event.

        Here was our menu:

        3 passed hors d'oeuvres (no spring rolls or chicken satays for me!):
        blue cheese date on endive with candied walnuts
        mini yorkshire puddings with roast beef and horse radish cream (dad's irish)
        chickpea fritter with butter chicken (this is the one we added instead of a baked brie in filo and people LOVED this one).

        dinner was stations, not a sitdown meal:
        salad station:
        make your own caesar salad (so nothing got soggy and could also be veg if they didn't add bacon). Hubby loves caesar and we figured it was something most people would like
        roasted beets with arugula
        tomato, basil, buffalo mozzarella (nothing like tomatoes in Ontario in September)

        pasta station: squash and ricotta cannelloni with bechamel (I wanted squash ravioli, but Nathan pointed out that it wouldn't sit well in a station-style dinner, so we went with a baked pasta, which lasts much better)

        mains: We were supposed to have an outdoor BBQ for most of this stuff, but we had to go to plan B because it was pouring rain.
        Grilled flatiron steak with chimichurri or peppercorn sauce on the side
        Green curry marinated prawn and pickerel broschettes (these were a huge hit)
        Rice on the side to go with the curry
        baked potato station with the usual fixings
        marinated, grilled seasonal veg.

        make your own sundaes

        FYI, I kinda grilled them about the food; for example, I made sure the bacon bits were homemade, I asked what kind of ice cream they would serve for the sundaes (Kawartha Dairy...delicious and pretty local), they made the sundae sauces, not storebought, etc.

        If you have any more questions, I'm happy to answer.

        1. re: christinea

          That's the best wedding dessert I've ever heard of.

          1. re: christinea

            Hi Chrstinea - I have been seriously considering holding our wedding there next year - 2011. Your menu sounds IDEAL. I wasn't aware that there was an option of stations or BBQ. Berkeley has provided me with some cost estimates so far, but if you don't mind, would you be able to provide me some information or approximate costs that you incurred for this type of menu.
            Thanks in advance!

            1. re: marydee

              We did the stations for the about same price as the three course sit-down meal they quoted me. I think it was about $45 pp. Really, they will do anything you want. Apparently, cocktail menus or stations are really popular there. Have you met with arnyone in person? I'm sure if you gave them an idea of the menu you want and your budget they could tell you if it's doable. By the way, the other great thing there is that you bring in your own alcohol so it's way cheaper. They supply the bar staff, you just get a permit and booze. LCBO and Beer store both deliver and pick up empties.

              Also, I forgot to mention, the staff on the actual day of the event was also great. It was one of my bridesmaid's birthdays and they brought her a piece of cake with a candle. I didn't organize it, or anything. The staff gets paid well and it shows.

              Oh, and they don't charge a cake cutting fee or anything. We actually had a "cake" made of rounds of cheese. They cut the cheese into small wedges, added the descriptions I supplied and wrapped up the leftovers for us to take home. They also supplied crackers, fruit, etc to go with it (included in the cost of the meal). We served it with a late harvest riesling.

              1. re: christinea

                Thanks Christinea for a great insight. I too is considering Berkeley Church - The Field House for our wedding for next year and got a little confuse/apprehensive with the 3 reviews I read (I assume it's the same reviews that everyone had read).

                We visited the venue twice and both times had a great experience with the event planner. On our second visit, the staffs were actually setting up the venues for that night's events and all of them were really nice, making us feel welcome to visit each and every corner of the venue, answering our questions to the best of their abilities, offering us to find someone who can answer questions (we decided to tour the facilities the second time without the event planner which gave us the opportunities to talk to the staff without anyone watching them).

                Having meet the staffs, I was really suprise at the negative comments I've read. But you are right, very few of the people who had positive experiences will actually rave about it in the net. And I agree, that's only three negative comments out of many.

                Hope to hear more from people who had positive experience from Berkeley Church.

            2. re: christinea

              we are planning to get married at berkeley next april- love the venue and really dont wanna go anywhere else- I am getting weary about the cost though...was the $45 pp including the horsdeurves?? we wanna do sit down, appetizer, soup, and 3 entrees, pasta, risotto and meat- we're italian so we need a lot of food! :) I know it will be a bit more as we are adding the soup, but hoping we can do it for around $60pp.

              For the alchohol- how much did you guys spend roughly?? We are BIG drinkers and I am worried this is where our costs are going to get high, if we can work it out to around $120 a person with the booze that would be good.,.. only thing is then we ahve to add the venue cost on top of that! we were quoted about $7500 with everything- tables, linens etc... so I estimate around $20,000 for everything assuming we'll spend about $6000 on booze....was your number close to this?

              I really want this venue but dont want it to be too expensive that we are in the hole afterwards you know! good to know the food was good cuz that is very important! going for the tasting next week, so as long as we can afford it, its a go! any insight on costs would be great :)

            3. re: sarnya


              I know that this thread is over a year old now, but am wondering if you could provide any feedback on your wedding at Berkeley Church? I am getting married there early next year and am hoping to get an updated review. I know that the chef has changed in the past year, so I'm not sure who was there to cater your wedding. Any details about food and overall service would be much appreciated!!

              1. re: cmmto

                I just had my wedding at Berkeley in April- it was amazing! the food was awesome, chef was great, we are italian and food is very important- we adjusted the menu to fit our desires and everyone was happy. The venue itself was perfect for the wedding we wanted- if you are not into the banquet hall type of wedding, this is great- we had a band and this venue is perfect for live music too. Everyone was great with communication and help orginizing the night, our co-ordinator liz was there to ensure everything went smooth day of. you can pretty much spend what you like here- lots of options for every budget. You can adjust the meal the way you want to fit your price range, and buying your own booze can be cheap as well.... we spent a lot on booze as we fully stocked the bar with premium liquer and lots of stuff, but my family are big drinkers. overall amazing wedding, and amazing venue- no complaints here!

                1. re: aeon

                  thanks for the quick reply! congrats on your recent marriage! would you mind sharing what food you served and any items that you would say were better than others? we haven't selected our menu yet, so I am hoping to get some feedback from people who have eaten there.

                  also, did you use their florist?

                  1. re: cmmto

                    We had 4 passed hors deurves:
                    fish & Chips
                    mushroom crostini

                    then we had them create an Italian antipasto platter- cured Italian meats, cheeses, olives, grilled veg, fresh bread, etc.

                    1st course:
                    Penne in rosemary tomato sauce 1/2 plate
                    wild mushroom risotto 1/2 plate

                    flat iron steak 1/2 portion
                    cornish hen 1/2 portion
                    garlic mashed potatos and root veg

                    arugala with walnuts and rasberry vinegrette

                    we had them just do a dessert table with platters of petit fours instead of serving individually along with our wedding cupcakes.

                    all the food was aweseome and everyone loved it!

                    we did use their florist as we had to, but we were happy with the arrangements. I didnt get tons of stuff, but he got the rock and roll vibe we had and we got the arrangements we requested, very well done. It was a bit pricey but we talked him down a bit.

                    depending on how much you wnt to spend per person you can adjust your menu, they recommend 3 passed hors deurves but we chose to add one more, and do a bit extra and chose to serve a bit more for the courses then normal, Italians usually do 4 or more courses. everyone was satisfied with what we served.

                    1. re: cmmto

                      I also just had my wedding at Berkeley @ The Fieldhouse a couple of weeks ago. We had an amazing time.

                      The food was really good. Since both of us are Asian (me Filipino and my husband Chinese) so wanted the Chinese 10 course meal condensed into 4 course meal. This was a great challenge for the chef as his food tends to be more on the spicy side (more Thai than Chinese food). We had to do tasting twice.

                      For the first course, we had the Egg Drop soup (this was just OK).

                      Second course we had duo of Crab Claw and Suckling pig with Mango Salad (this was amazing).

                      For the main course we had, combo of Cod (as white fish is always present in Chinese meal) and Flat Iron Steak with Asian BBQ sauce, stir fried vegetables (king mushrooms and bok choy and snow peas) and side of fried rice and noodles. This would have been perfect had the rice and noodles came sooner (we were almost done with the main course when the rice and noodles came).

                      For dessert we had the Lychee Creme Brulee (this is to die for).

                      For late night aside from having the standard late night snacks, we had a whole roasted pork. Unfortunately I was not able to taste it. It was gone so fast so I am assuming it was a huge success.

                      MUSIC - we use the in-house DJ, Ian. He was awesome and worth every penny. I highly recommend him.

                      FLOWER - we also use the in-house florist (JP). He was really nice (and full of ideas). I was a little disappointed with the centerpiece though. The container he used if far too big for the amount of flowers. I felt that for the amount we paid for centerpieces it's not really worth it. But the other flower arrangements were nice. And again he is really nice and helpful during the set-up it was hard to get upset at him.

                      But the venue itself is really nice and amazing.

                    2. re: aeon

                      It is great to hear that the staff can come through. I may have had a more complicated menu. I am a serious foody and I love to cook so I am also critical. The food however was not bad, the service was horrible. I furnished and decorated the venue with the help of a designer and had a planner for everything else. The staff was defensive and evasive throughout the process. I maintain that any food challenges that you put forward, stations, passed hors d'oeuvres etc. should be planned carefully. I loved the warehouse setting but cannot recommend a place with such inadequate service. I cannot apologize for my standards.

                2. Nathan Isberg still works as the consulting chef at Berkeley, he is the current chef/owner of The Atlantic and founding chef of Czehoski. Food will be great, I bet.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: childofthestorm

                    I too am looking at having my wedding at Berkeley Church, but i have a few concerns. I found it quiet dirty. Accept the shabby chic thing, but there was old flowers in the fountain outside, the 'creek' had barely any water in it and was all green, the gardens didn't look like they had been tended to all summer and were full of weeds. Also the tree house steps didnt look like they had been cleaned all summer. I am just worried that this is normal and that they dont really keep up the place. There was also finder prints all over the glass.
                    Any one else have these isues when being there, or was this maybe a one off occurance??\


                    1. re: JanaeB

                      I just got married this summer and had my wedding at the Berkeley Fieldhouse. It has it's own unique creative charm and if it is not your style then probably isn't the place for you. I find I pretty much know with my first gut feeling if things are right. For myself, I do have to say that the staff made the actual day of the wedding absolutely perfect. They were always one step ahead and had many guests tell me after the fact that it was the best wedding they have ever attended. The staff even gave tours to our guests inbetween the ceremony and reception of the church and its' history since there was no event taking place there. My husband is of Jamaican descent and I am of Polish/Lithuanian background and they melded our two cultures into our menu as requested. The chef even went so far as to research how to make authentic lithuanian perogies. Again, most guests said the food was the best that they had ever had at a wedding and the best meal they had in a long time. The staff went far above and beyond my and my husband's expectations and I would highly recommend the Berkeley if one is looking for something beyond the norm.

                      1. re: chiba34

                        Is the Fieldhouse, unlike the chuch, wheelchair accessible? How about washrooms?

                        1. re: Googs

                          All the necessities are on one level. We made sure that there was minimal steps for our grandmothers, but in terms of a wheelchair accessible washroom, I am not too sure and it is probably best to contact the Berkeley to find out.

                          1. re: Googs

                            we got married at the berkeley church 5 years ago and chose it precisely for its accessibility - there is one (slightly weird) washroom on the main floor. the ramp was verrrry long though. they've renovated since then so i'm not sure how much it's changed - went to another amazing wedding there 2 years ago, but was not paying attention to accessibility at the time. love the atmosphere, and everyone was very helpful (accommodating special food requests, etc.)

                          2. re: chiba34

                            Can I ask what the total cost of your wedding at the field house was? How many people did you have at the event?

                          3. re: JanaeB

                            My daughter got married at the Berkeley Fieldhouse in Aug 2009.
                            Jessica, our co-ordinator, and Nathan the chef were good to work with, and the food was tasty. Overall the wedding was a happy and successful event. but there were some things where I felt disappointed.

                            Weeks before the wedding whenever we went to the venue for meetings, one of the doors in the women's washroom near the fieldhouse was coming off its hinges. I mentioned this to the staff repeatedly. I was assured it would be repaired for the wedding. The day of the wedding, when the guests were using the washroom, the OTHER toilet stall door was coming off its hinges, and was difficult to open and close. I told the co-ordinator about it more than once and the staff present were not able to repair it. It was coming off its hinges the whole evening. I found this very embarrassing.

                            The appetizers were supposed to be passed round immediately after the ceremony. They were only served about an hour after the ceremony ended. There was another wedding in the church next door and I think they waited till it was over before sending the servers over to our wedding. Again, not what we asked for or what we paid for.

                            When we first saw the venue during the winter, there was snow covering the garden. By the time we were making final arrangements, in the summer, there were a lot of weeds growing in the garden and it looked quite un cared for and over grown. I asked about this and some weeding was done but not all the weeds were pulled out. Also, during the winter an outdoor light on a post was damaged and bent over. i asked for it to be repaired and they just removed the light completely leaving the post bare, and not matching its pair on the other side of the path!

                            My feeling is that the owners are not paying a lot of attention to maintenance of the place....maybe they do not want to put much money into the venue as they are hoping to build a condo building over and around the church and are waiting for permission to do so, but so far their application has been rejected by the city.

                            Thanks to the good will and sociability of our guests, we still had a great wedding, in spite of the problems above.

                            Afterwards I wrote to our co-ordinator to tell her about the problems and she wrote back saying "Thanks for the feedback." No apologies or mention of a partial refund (even a small one!) to make up for the problems.

                            1. re: JanaeB

                              I have to agree, I found the same issues each time I visited Berkeley, and for that reason we decided not to hold our wedding there after all. We visited several times, including a few times while they were setting up for other weddings. I found dust balls on the stairwells, furniture shoved in corners, beer bottles and bottle caps everywhere.... on one occasion we were there shortly before a wedding was to begin, and Andy told us that the night before, the staff had had a little after party after another wedding... and I realized that the bottle caps and cigarette butts everywhere were likely the results of that after party. I was also left contemplating whose booze they were drinking, and at whose expense....? Also, we asked them about the bad reviews they'd received, and it was amazing how negatively they spoke of past bride & grooms. They essentially told us that if a bride & groom don't have the same "style" as they have, then it's a recipe for disaster, and that they'd even given brides their deposits back and asked them to go have their wedding elsewhere.... can you imagine being "fired" from your wedding venue??? We really WANTED to have our wedding there, as we loved the venue and the feel, etc. But we were just finding too many negative reviews and had too many doubts about cleanliness, customer service, etc. We felt better about our decision after talking to an acquaintance who had had their wedding there and had very similar feedback to the negative reviews: their guests had been hungry and cold. Good luck to anyone having their wedding there. I am sure you can still have a fantastic event there, but just be sure to work through these issues with the staff beforehand!!

                              1. re: marydee

                                yes, not much care was being taken of the venue. a huge mirror that was sposed to hang up in the fieldhouse had been taken down to repair a leak in the wall behind it and was never put back on the wall, but was left at floor level leaning against the wall behind the bar. i hope that by now it has been hung up properly. the next day i went to bring back the flowers and in the kitchen behind the bar there were clouds of fruit flies flying around!

                          4. In November 2010, we celebrated my son’s Bar Mitzvah with 140 family and friends at the Berkeley. The communication was tentative from the start. We received mixed messages from the various planners that were assigned to our event and from the owner who seemed not to know who we were after several encounters both in person and by telephone. Messages would go unanswered and email was futile. Our deposit cheques were certified months before any services were even provided. A process that made us nervous about the financial stability of the company. We even looked into changing the venue only a couple of months before the event. We set aside our trepidation and ignored many warnings. We allowed ourselves to be pacified by a, finally charming-in-the-end-planner and a chef who seemed at ease with our passed hors d’oeuvres concept. At the end of it all, I would rate the food and staff at the Berkeley a 1.5 out of 10.

                            The event turned out to be not a total disaster as our entertainment won over the crowd immediately. Mint Entertainment and the Aerial Angels were spectacular and took the guests minds off their empty bellies. The wait staff was ill managed and ineffective. They started service late and in dribs and drabs. They entered the same way each time with small offerings of food that were quickly grabbed up by the few youngsters smart and hungry enough to stalk out the food entrance. It was my DJ and not the event manager (nowhere to be seen) that suggested varying the entrances. Many guests were seen sneaking out to the nearby Dominos Pizza. After dinner was complete, most guests, save those who went out for pizza and the youth stalkers, were famished. In the end, in my opinion, the food was an outright disaster. Macaroni was served with a sort of toothpick that was impossible to use, other items were not only in short supply but cold, over-cooked and tasteless. They ignored my stipulation of no pork or shellfish by serving shrimp at the sushi bar.
                            I was told that dinner was sufficient for 150 guests, yet my 140 guests were starving after dinner was complete. If you must use the Berkeley, have your own planner. Make sure to line up the staff and count them from the beginning. Have your planner ensure adequate food supply in the kitchen. Good luck.

                            1. I posted my review in November 2010. I made a Bar Mitzvah and have made many functions in the past as I love to entertain. I have hosted parties for 150 and under in my home with a caterer, as well as in different venues. The staff at the Berkeley were disorganized and very often too busy to get back to me in a timely manner. When I began to panic, they pulled out all the stops, getting everyone on board to make us happy. The night of the event was a disaster. They seemed to be grossly understaffed. The food came out late and it was insufficient in quantity. The food itself was tasty. The menu was a sushi station followed by all passed hors d'oeuvres, which ranged from appetizers and more substantial mains to dessert. The service could not have been worse. Hungry guests went across the street for pizza. Some never saw any food service. I had a good friend who told me to cancel after she was in litigation with the Berkeley. I regret not listening. Good luck with your decision.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: discerning guest

                                Oh no! Thanks for your feedback. I'm sorry to hear that you had such a negative experience. We have already committed to Berkeley so hopefully things will run more smoothly for us.

                                1. re: cmmto

                                  I plan events as part of my job. I think it will be fine as long as you're involved in the details.

                                  Some items to consider:

                                  Be aware of the guest to server ratio - for a high-end events I like 10:1 that way things move quickly and everyone gets the attention they deserve.

                                  Do a min-by-min critical path and share that with the venue. Specify when you want each course dropped and cleared.

                                  Ensure that you detail what is acceptable for the bar and what is not.

                                  Ensure you do a tasting and if you're not happy with any of the items give them feedback and go back for a second tasting.

                                  Most venue can work if you are diligent with the details and remain hands on.

                                  And remember you get more flies with honey so kill them with kindness while expressing your wishes and they will likely be more than willing to do anything you want. :-)

                                  Good luck!

                                  1. re: JennaBean

                                    I agree with JennaBean. Being involved in every step is crucial. And make sure you have everything written down, up to the last detail.

                                    And kindness really goes a long way. The staff are very accommodating specially if you have a big smile.

                                    Make sure they got the food right. We had to do a second tasting as the main course was NOT what we expected. It actually took us a few days before we can tell them that we are NOT 100% happy with the main course. It was Kathy our planner who insisted on doing a second tasting. She wanted to make sure that we are happy with the food.

                                    But remember it's really about you and your partner. If you are having a good time everyone around you will. Don't let 1 or 2 person spoil the fun. And trust me there will be 1 out of a hundred that will have something bad to say. I just ignore that person.

                                  2. re: cmmto

                                    I am sure everything will be fine. Berkeley is really a great venue and the staff are really nice.