Rehearsal Dinner: Where can 25 people eat well for $750 in Montreal!?
My niece is getting married in Montreal this summer and she's asked me to help her organize the rehearsal dinner.
My job is to help her find a restaurant to wow her guests on a budget. She has about $750-800 to spend on the dinner. Here are her parameters:
-Bring your own wine
-Location: Central Plateau, Downtown, Quartier Latin or Westmount
-Cuisine: French or Italian, emphasis on presentation
-Small and cosy
Ideally, she'd like to find a SMALL restaurant where she can basically reserve the entire place for a couple of hours on a Thursday night. She'd like to negotiate a fixed menu (i.e., everybody eats the same thing, banquet style), for a fixed price. It's important to her that the owner allows her to choose the music during the Rehearsal Dinner.
Anybody here been to a place like this? Anybody here OWN a place like this? Lets talk!
Seriously, I don't know of ANY restaurant that will close down for a couple of hours for the price you want to pay. On top of that, the type of cuisine you are asking for is not cheap to make, especially if you want to empress the guests. What you are asking for would cost the restaurant money. But I'm interested to see if there are any takers. Good luck!
I have to say that Cheryl is probably right. On that budget you probably won’t be able to reserve an entire restaurant – it simply isn’t in a restaurant’s interest to turn away customers for a whole evening for that amount of money.
The good news is there are lots of other options - but you might have to sacrifice a thing or two (i.e. not having the restaurant exclusively to yourselves, bringing your own wine...) I have a couple of potential alternatives to propose:
- Some places in the city offer late night deals (e.g. Milos and Leméac). I for one can attest that the late night deal at Leméac is fantastic. It’s essentially just a slimmed down version of their dinner menu from which you can order an appetizer and main course for $22 after 10pm. ($22 bucks after 22:00... get it?) I believe at Milos you get even more bang for your buck, with a dessert thrown in there too for around the same price.
- BYOB is another good idea – seeing as wine is horrendously marked up in restaurants. I have to say I haven’t been blown away by any BYOBs in the city yet... but there are still a couple of places which I still want to try after hearing good reports (e.g. le Bleu Raisin).
Disagree that Milos is better bang for the buck than Leméac, and in any case seriously doubt that either would be willing and able to accommodate a rehearsal dinner for 25 after 10, serving the late-night special no less.
Some sort of compromise has to be made...
If type of cuisine and BYO are non-negotiable, I'd next look to changing the day of the week. Some places may be willing to host private parties on what would otherwise be a night off. No idea whether any of the better BYOs, where you'd normally expect to pay 40-50 a head would be willing to do so and put together a $30 fixed menu. The only thing to do is start calling around.
Otherwise, the OP might be looking at options like l'Academie, which presumably would tick all the boxes at the risk of compromising on food quality.
re: Mr F
By "more bang for your buck" I meant more in terms of quantity not quality. Lemeac offers two courses for $22, Milos offers three for $20.
And I don't see why the restaurant would mind what time the party arrived. Why would they mind seating a large party for the late night special? Presumably the whole point of offering the deal in the first place is to keep the restaurant full late into the evening. Perhaps you thought I meant that the whole restaurant could be reserved for the private party, although I did mention that the OP "might have to sacrifice a thing or two i.e. not having the restaurant exclusively to [themselves]"
Milos usually has a choice of two small appetizers (vs. nine regular-size ones at Leméac) and two or three mains at the special price, plus a couple more for an extra charge (vs. nine at Leméac, all at the special price). Milos's special-price choices have included a rather uninspiring tuna burger the couple of times I've been there for the special; I assume it's a fixture. The steak, IIRC costing $30 instead of $20, is not 50% bigger or better than Leméac's steak frites.
Leméac's wine list is also much more extensive, with a larger number of affordable options.
In short, Milos may be $2 less and include a piece of baklava, but you're getting a stripped down Milos-lite experience (and possibly the bum's rush if you linger too long -- unless you like having the floor mopped beside you as you sip your coffee).
Leméac offers a subset of its regular menu at an attractive price. No skimping on portions, service or quality.
In terms of sheer quantity, Leméac may actually deliver more.
As for taking a party of 25 at night... the only way to know for sure is to ask, but I would expect to be declined because big groups are notorious for being extra work. Do they want the hassle of dealing with one at the end of the night? I'm skeptical. Besides, Leméac is often jammed after 10 anyway.
In any case, it's probably moot because according to the OP it's important that the bride-to-be be allowed to choose her music, which I doubt would be an option in either case.
re: Mr F
I've never been to Milos, Mr F. I just mentioned they had a late night special. Might I bring you attention to my original post:
"I can *attest* that the late night special at Leméac is fantastic" as I have personal experience of it being as such.
"I *believe* (as in *think but do not know for certain*) that Milos offers more bang for the buck" as I have no personal experience of Milos whatsoever.
.. and as for being unable to choose their music - like I said, things may have to be sacrificied in order to stick to a tight budget.
If there's flexibility on some of the requirements (well, most of them), I can think of one place that might be worth a look: Itacate, 67 Beaubien East / 514-276-5880/www.itacate.ca.
They serve delicious, attractive, authentic Mexican and can do very affordable fixed menus for groups (and will cheerfully accommodate any vegetarians in the group, too). The food is definitely less showy than haute French or Italian, but not thrown-together either.
The place seats about 25-30 people, and fits the small and cozy requirement without having a hole-in-the-wall character.
It is *not* BYO, but for $30/person I believe you can get the meal and a modest amount of wine off the list.
The photo is the main course from a fixed menu a few weeks ago. Sorry, I don't remember what everything is.
(Sorry, made a small edit and now the text is doubled up... if it happens again, this line is the end of the post.)
Interesting question! I really cannot think of anywhere, not with all those requirements. But I am very interested if someone comes up with an idea...
Not sure either of these will work pricewise, but two suggestions would be Bistro L'Entrepont (BYOB, and it's small, they might go for reserving it for a few hours Thursday, not sure what price would be though), and Au Petit Extra, where they could probably put together some sort of group menu, but it's not BYOB, although their house wine is quite reasonable. It's larger, but they could probably accommodate a group of 25 in one part of it quite readily. Both are worth calling to see.
One place you might wish to consider is Provisions. (514.844.9656). Their evening table d'Hote is $20-$25. The food has a simple elegance to it and is a great QPR.
Plus, the size is about right, so I can imagine them willing to reserve the whole place for a private event.
You could try "Les Infidèles", I've been there with a group (12) but I'm certain they could accommodate more, maybe not on thursdays, but other week days.
I want to thank everyone who's written in with suggestions. We have a lot of good options now that we never would've thought of before...now we start calling!