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Creative Rehearsal Dinner IdeasNnear-ish to Springfield, MA Needed

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Melmybelle May 6, 2011 10:46 AM

Hi,

I'm looking for ideas for a rehearsal dinner (prob 5-70 people). Our wedding will be in Springfield, MA so that's where guests will be traveling from. It's a destination wedding, so none of us know our way around.

It's important that my mother doesn't find out that Springfield has bad neighborhood. Since she's not from here, she thinks it's a really nice Western, MA town, and safety is a big concern of hers. None of us know our way around the area.

Anyway, we're a bit of a unique couple and we want our weekend to reflect that. We want the wedding festivities to be really fun and not stiff. However, the future in-laws, who are hosting the rehearsal dinner, are pretty straight laced. The rehearsal dinner will have a lot of the adult family folks involved.

So, we're trying to find a mix of good quality food and fun in a unique atmosphere. If I were planning it in Boston, for instance, I might choose the Milky Way. Or maybe I'd find a place with live band Karaoke. Or maybe if there were an upscale version of Bleacher bar.

The Federal in Agawam is already on our list of places to check out and I think is more along the lines of what the in-laws are looking for. Any comments on this spot?

Any ideas of places that bridges the gap? Could you please provide some ideas of other places we should look at? Any recommendation is welcome, just note if the place is more along the lines of what the in-laws would like, or something more unique and fun, with character, if you will :)

20 minutes driving radius from Springfield with easy parking preferred. Thanks in advance! All ideas are good ones :)

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    Tinkerbelldee RE: Melmybelle May 6, 2011 12:44 PM

    The Federal is very good, very traditional, but the food is wonderful.
    If you are looking for quirky, the Student Prince is quirky. Old world German but prking may be an issue
    Max's Tavern might be a good spot but not sure if they can accomodate that many, but there is a club across the parking lot that the younger crowd could head to after.

    Northampton would be a better choice but not sure if that is too long of a drive.

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    Max's Tavern
    Basketball Hall of Fame, Springfield, MA 01105

    Student Prince Cafe
    8 Fort St, Springfield, MA 01103

    7 Replies
    1. re: Tinkerbelldee
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      Melmybelle RE: Tinkerbelldee May 6, 2011 01:04 PM

      Thanks for the tips. Max's is catering our wedding, so we probably don't want to repeat that. But, I'll check out the Student Prince.

      What would you recommend in Northampton? I'm certainly willing to consider it.

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      Student Prince Cafe
      8 Fort St, Springfield, MA 01103

      1. re: Melmybelle
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        sakeandgin RE: Melmybelle May 6, 2011 01:24 PM

        student prince is downtown and limited parking with vallet service.....based on your comments about family safety and perception of an area i would pass.....you may want to head there after you rid yourselves of the old folks and have a few drinks at he bar. there is alot to see there as far as wall decor beer stiens etc. Take a look at the Hotel Northampton may be what the old folks would like as far as eating and decor. You may want to explore how the food is. I have had a drink at the bar but never have dined there.....

        1. re: sakeandgin
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          magiesmom RE: sakeandgin May 7, 2011 06:09 AM

          driving from Springfield for the hotel Northampton mediocre food is a waste of time, imo.
          I'm curious about Springfield as a destination wedding,

          1. re: magiesmom
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            Melmybelle RE: magiesmom May 7, 2011 07:59 AM

            We're originally from MD and PA. Both of those locations were ruled out because we support marriage equality and want to have a wedding in a state where marriage equality is legal.

            We aslo wanted something that reflects us and is not the "typical" wedding venue. Like I said, we're a little offbeat. However, we also have pretty high standards in terms of quality.

            At any rate, we're both athletic coaches and I am a basketball coach. So, we checked out the Bball Hall of Fame and loved it. It's the perfect spot for us. So... Springfield, it is :)

            Any ideas for fun spots in Northampton for the rehearsal dinner? I generally find rehearsal dinners depressing, so I'd really like to something fun and quirky!

            1. re: Melmybelle
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              magiesmom RE: Melmybelle May 7, 2011 09:29 AM

              great explanation, thanks. I personally appreciate your support for equality! And the Hall is the Hall, right?!
              I can't think of anywhere in Hamp that would serve that number well, Northampton restaurants are small, generally. I would check out Side Street in florence, they are capable of interesting food, but parking would be problematic. Green Street is very good and fun, parking varies as to time of year. Summer could be ok, during school year not so much. In either case you would need the whole place,
              I am wondering about one of the traditional Italian places in Springfield...
              Maybe the Appollo grill in Easthampton could do something. Their food can be quite good, it is very quirky, has parking, might be a little offbeat for your in laws, only 20 min or so from Springfield.

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              Side Street Cafe
              42 Maple St, Florence, MA 01062

              Green Street Cafe
              62 Green St, Northampton, MA 01060

              1. re: magiesmom
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                winenfoodguy RE: magiesmom May 9, 2011 05:57 AM

                East Side Grill is a great restaurant---Chef Casey is one of the best in the Valley and his restaurant could easily fit a large group in his function area. It is certainly quirky---housed in an old mill filled with artist studios. He uses local farm raised produce. If you want to get out of Springfield this is a 15 minute drive on route 91 then over Mt. Tom and down into the valley. A scenic drive.

              2. re: Melmybelle
                andytee RE: Melmybelle May 9, 2011 07:32 AM

                In Springfield, I'd look at the Student Prince, Cafe Lebanon, and Red Rose Pizza. Red Rose is casual res sauce Italian but not bad at all, varied menu and can handle a crowd. Northampton has lots of good food but yeah, places are smaller, so most would only work on a off-night were you could reserve the whole restaurant for yourself.

                One Northampton thought, if you like casual, and beer, is the bar The Dirty Truth. Incredible beer selection, like 50 taps of great beer, and good food too.

                I'd lean towards Springfield spots, though, nice to keep everyone closer to their beds and not driving so much.

                Congrats! Hope you have a great wedding.

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                Red Rose Cafe
                800 Broad St, Weymouth, MA 02189

                Cafe Lebanon
                1390 Main St, Springfield, MA 01103

                Student Prince Cafe
                8 Fort St, Springfield, MA 01103

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        edub23 RE: Melmybelle May 7, 2011 07:35 PM

        Can you clarify the number of people? 5-70 is quite a range, if that's what you really meant. For a VERY traditional New England location, Storrowton Tavern is right across the river in West Springfield on the grounds of the Big E. I've been to several large-ish parties there and they can handle groups, but again, you're getting stuffed shrimp-and prime rib-type fare, and no karaoke, unless you bring your own. A little funkier place that also says they cater to parties is Lattitude in West Springfield (basically right across the street from Storrowton). I've never been, and my memory says reviews on Chow have been mixed. But it might fit into a more non-traditional, eclectic venue with some character.
        Carmelina's in Hadley is another possibility - they advertise themselves as "creative Italian." It's about as far from Springfield as Northampton, and there should be enough parking. I haven't been there in a few years, so others might have more details as to the quality.

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        Carmelina's At the Commons
        96 Russell St, Hadley, MA 01035

        Lattitude
        1338 Memorial Avenue, West Springfield, MA 01089

        Storrowton Tavern
        1305 Memorial Ave, West Springfield, MA 01089

        4 Replies
        1. re: edub23
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          Melmybelle RE: edub23 May 7, 2011 08:13 PM

          Thanks. I meant 50-70... it was a typo. I appreciate the tips. I'm surprised to hear that there aren't more "funky" places in Northampton. Nothing that mixes activity with food?

          1. re: Melmybelle
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            winenfoodguy RE: Melmybelle May 8, 2011 06:37 PM

            I've lived in the area all my life and consult to the restaurant trade. Here's my take on things:

            Max's was an excellent choice for a wedding; they have a very professional catering staff and the HOF will be fun.

            1. Lattitude is the most consistent restaurant in the area. The chef/owner was the first executive chef for Max's Tavern and then was their catering chef before opening his own restaurant. Unfortunately your group is too large without closing down the restaurant and that wont happen on a Saturday night.. If you are up a day or two ahead of time definitely check this place out.

            2. Most Noho restaurants do not have a large enough private room to handle your crowd. It might be fun to go to after dinner and roam Main Street and bar hop.

            3. Student Prince is traditional German fare and has a large private room that could handle your party. Pass around appetizers include fried camebert cheese which should not be missed. Stop in here for a quick beer if you dont eat here. They have a very large well lit attended parking area adjacent to the restaurant.

            4. If you want traditional red sauce Italian food there is the Lido Restaurant on Worthington Street which is about four blocks from the two major hotels in downtown--they also have a parking lot across the street [you should drive] and they are across the street from the fire station and a block from police headquarters. They have a private room that could handle your crowd and you could probably hire a karaoke machine to bring in.

            5. Personally, if your guests are staying at the Marriott and/or Sheraton I would use Nadom's Cafe Lebanon which is literally steps from both hotels [no need for cars but plenty of parking on Main Street for those that need to drive there] . Nadim could certainly handle your party and work with you on either buffet style or from the menu. He has great kabobs [shrimp, beef, chicken, turkey, lamb] interesting appetizers, good salads, and other interesting dishes such as glazed lamb ribs and a garlicky lemon fish dish called swai. A nice lounge area to hang out in. This place is extremely popular by the downtown work crowd for lunch. If you want to go funky he can get a belly dancer to come in ----even the most conservative folk will loosen up after a couple of minutes [and a couple of drinks]. If you are here during the summer he has an outdoor patio to hang out on after dinner and smoke a hookah [water pipe with flavored tobacco].

            6. Federal is excellent food but a little bit formal [and may be harder to find if coming from hotels] dont know if they can handle the crowd on a Saturday night.

            7. Storrowtown Tavern--traditional New England fare in an authentic colonial setting and they have an upstairs room and plenty of parking.

            8. 351 Grill just built a private room---they are about three blocks from the hotels, have a large well it parking lot and have interesting food. You said you wanted "activity"?! They are next door to the Mardi Gras, a well known strip joint! Between the hotels and this location is Worthington Street which is club heaven with a mix of straight and gay bars. For fun you could go to Smiths' Billiards, the oldest continuous pool hall in the country [on the second floor of Theodore's a local blues and barbecue joint.

            Good luck and have fun!!

            -----
            Max's Tavern
            Basketball Hall of Fame, Springfield, MA 01105

            Student Prince Cafe
            1610 Main St, Springfield, MA 01103

            Cafe Lebanon
            1390 Main St, Springfield, MA 01103

            Lattitude
            1338 Memorial Avenue, West Springfield, MA 01089

            1. re: winenfoodguy
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              magiesmom RE: winenfoodguy May 9, 2011 05:32 AM

              I think the in laws would not appreciate Mardi Gras at all ! Also, Worthington street is the kind of neighborhood OP's mother is not going to like.

              1. re: magiesmom
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                winenfoodguy RE: magiesmom May 9, 2011 05:51 AM

                Just giving you the "tour", LOL. If the majority are at the hotels, use the Student Prince or Nadims as both are within walking distance and have the capacity, the quality, atmosphere, and the ability to let your group do its own thing. While both appear to be ethnic, their menus are wide reaching and will appeal to everybody.

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                Student Prince Cafe
                8 Fort St, Springfield, MA 01103

        2. c
          corinnerose RE: Melmybelle May 9, 2011 10:05 AM

          Or what about Indian food? You could take them to Pintu's in West Springfield and avoid the offending Springfield neighborhoods while also not driving 25 minutes for dinner. I don't know if your in-laws would try Indian, but it's certainly nice enough and in a decent area. Could be a good fit for a quirky wedding?

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            foodwallguy RE: Melmybelle May 9, 2011 01:33 PM

            I went to a rehearsal dinner at School Street Bistro in Westfield. The room and the food were both terrific. Very New Englandy. As for the destination wedding thing in Springfield, I would love the video of that discussion. I guess for the thousands who leave Springfield to get married, probability has to kick in sometime. I guess that never say never thing is true!

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              awm922 RE: Melmybelle May 9, 2011 05:56 PM

              You can try some Enfield, CT places like Figaro's, (In-Laws), Hazardgrille, (good food and live music on the weekends), Figaro's has 2 sides to it and Ernesto can close off the whole side for your group and you can bring in Karaoke, DJ, whatever you want within reason. It's right off 91, has plenty of parking and it's about 5 min south of Springfield. Food is old fashioned Italian, but it's not a gawdy place. Hazard Grille is more American fare, not sure about a private room or area.

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              Hazard Grille
              39 Hazard Ave, Enfield, CT 06082

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                edub23 RE: Melmybelle May 20, 2011 12:00 PM

                Just ran across this chart of restaurants in western Mass. It's ranked by seating capacity, so that might be of assistance. I think winefoodguy may have the definitive list of reviews, though.

                http://businesswest.com/wp-content/up...

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