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Restaurant buyout in San Francisco for a wedding?

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tbiytc May 22, 2011 10:29 PM

Hi all, we're looking for restaurants in San Francisco that can accommodate a group of between 120 and 150 people for a wedding reception, probably through a buyout. If the restaurant has a separate space or patio that could be used for the ceremony beforehand, that would be a bonus. The event will probably take place in late 2011 or early 2012. For budget we're thinking up to $150 per person if that includes venue fees, rentals, and food costs. We know our options would increase if we looked in the East Bay or on the Peninsula, but we'd really prefer to stay in San Francisco if possible.

Specific questions:
1) Suggestions for a restaurant that can do a buyout for a group of our size? Some examples of places we personally like in SF are Nopa, Marlowe, Cotogna, Zero Zero, Mission Chinese Food...

2) Does anyone have price comparisons for the costs when considering a lunch buyout versus a dinner buyout? We are willing to consider lunch if that means we can have our event at a place where we'll feel confident about the food being awesome.

Thanks in advance for your advice!

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  1. c oliver RE: tbiytc May 22, 2011 10:50 PM

    Not a restaurant but one of our daughters got married at the Great American Music Hall a couple of years ago. IIRC (she handled it all) they have their own catering and the food was great. Really great. She's our little fashionista, foodie kid so she knows her way around that type of thing. And the physical venue is gorgeous.

    1. m
      MeredithR RE: tbiytc May 23, 2011 10:06 AM

      Epic Roasthouse has a beautiful private event space (views!), Temple Nightclub (gorgeous wedding space, believe it or not...Asian-fusion cuisine), the back space at the Burritt Room in the Crescent Hotel (can't vouch for their food, though), and Spruce does buy-outs for large parties - day or night. Greens Restaurant is a beautiful space too, but it's vegetarian-only...

      Note: If you're willing to do a Sunday wedding, you can save tons of money on venues/restaurants.

      1 Reply
      1. re: MeredithR
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        tex.s.toast RE: MeredithR May 23, 2011 11:41 AM

        I have been to a wedding at greens - they are only available sundays i believe (they do not normally offer dinner service on sundays) and it is fairly affordable and the food was quite good - but im pretty sure 120-150 is too big especially if you wanted any room for dancing.

      2. SunsetKid RE: tbiytc May 23, 2011 03:56 PM

        Consider the Spanish Cultural Center on Alameny. They have a nice space for a wedding and rooms for private parties with good food. Last I heard you could bring in your own liquor and wedding cake but that may have changed.

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        Spanish Cultural Center
        2850 Alemany Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94112

        1 Reply
        1. re: SunsetKid
          c oliver RE: SunsetKid May 23, 2011 04:49 PM

          I'm in your debt for mentioning this place. We ate there a number of times about 20 years ago when we lived in the city. Hadn't thought of it in ages. First place we ever had tapas. Loved everything about it, especially the friendly staff.

        2. t
          tbiytc RE: tbiytc May 23, 2011 11:53 PM

          Thanks for the advice so far! We're hoping for specific info on numbers and pricing if anyone has anything to share...

          3 Replies
          1. re: tbiytc
            artychokeasana RE: tbiytc May 24, 2011 10:30 AM

            this link may help

            http://www.sfpdv.com/

            I don't have specific pricing to share as my experience has been that much depends on the time of day and time of year of the wedding and the current popularity of the venues,

            1. re: artychokeasana
              t
              tbiytc RE: artychokeasana May 24, 2011 12:52 PM

              helpful link, thanks!

              1. re: tbiytc
                artychokeasana RE: tbiytc May 24, 2011 02:19 PM

                When I was planning my wedding a couple of years ago somebody I spoke with had done a buy out at Foreign Cinema and loved it. I remember thinking it was pricey-but that was before I'd done much research and found out just how expensive most weddings are!

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                Foreign Cinema
                2534 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94110

          2. g
            gigimarie RE: tbiytc May 24, 2011 11:14 AM

            My sister bought out One Market for her wedding, and it was fantastic. They can use part of the pavilion/atrium in back for the ceremony, eat dinner inside, and the same area for the ceremony can be converted into a dance floor and stage. It doesn't hurt that the food is fantastic and the restaurant has earned a Michelin star 4 years in a row.

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            One Market Restaurant
            1 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94105

            2 Replies
            1. re: gigimarie
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              tbiytc RE: gigimarie May 24, 2011 12:55 PM

              We hadn't looked into One Market, but we will now. Did they do a seated, plated dinner? Do you know approximately how many people your sister had to her wedding? My impression of One Market is that it's quite large and http://www.sfpdv.com lists their full capacity as 600... Just wondering how a smaller group would fit into the space. Thanks for your suggestion!

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              One Market Restaurant
              1 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94105

              1. re: tbiytc
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                gigimarie RE: tbiytc May 24, 2011 01:25 PM

                They are probably 600 for a standing reception, no seating at all. Her wedding was about 150 people, and a seated 4 course meal. They have a separate private dining area that you don't have to use for dinner, we used it for gifts and seating off the dance floor. We kept everyone in the main dining room during dinner, and we were able to fill the space comfortably. Beth was the private dining coordinator we worked with, and she was fantastic. I helped my sister with all the planning, we looked at Town Hall, Perbacco, the now defunct Bacar, and Pres a Vi, and decided One Market was the best choice. We also got a room block at Hotel Vitale right across the street for our out of town guests.

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                Perbacco
                230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                Town Hall Restaurant
                342 Howard St., San Francisco, CA 94105

                One Market Restaurant
                1 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94105

                Pres a Vi
                One Letterman Drive, Building D, Suite 150, San Francisco, CA 94129

            2. w
              whiner RE: tbiytc May 24, 2011 12:34 PM

              Purely for price considerations, I know a buyout of Town Hall a few years ago was about $125/person for food, including venue, rental, etc, but that did not include alcohol nor, I believe, service.

              Thinking of restaurants large enough to accommodate you and with great food... Perbacco comes to mind, but there is no patio. I haven't been to Scala's in years but I always used to like it and, while there is no patio, it is in a hotel, so there is probably a ballroom.

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              Perbacco
              230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

              Town Hall Restaurant
              342 Howard St., San Francisco, CA 94105

              9 Replies
              1. re: whiner
                t
                tbiytc RE: whiner May 24, 2011 12:56 PM

                Thanks for the suggestions... did you attend the event at Town Hall? What do you think of the food there? I really like Perbacco, but my concern would be having to seat the event on two separate floors.

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                Perbacco
                230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                Town Hall Restaurant
                342 Howard St., San Francisco, CA 94105

                1. re: tbiytc
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                  whiner RE: tbiytc May 24, 2011 02:05 PM

                  I did attend and liked it. I've also been on other occasions, sometimes I absolutely loved it, sometimes I thought it was good, but not outstanding. I've heard it has gone more in the 'good-but-not-outstanding' direction recently and I've not been in a while, so I don't want to comment for sure. If you are interested, I do recall there was a 'nickel and dime' issue over the bottled water being served -- not a big deal, but something to hammer out in advance.

                  1. re: whiner
                    t
                    tbiytc RE: whiner May 26, 2011 12:02 AM

                    Has anyone eaten at Town Hall recently? We received some information from their private events coordinator and we're thinking of having dinner there to check it out. Any recs on dishes to try?

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                    Town Hall Restaurant
                    342 Howard St., San Francisco, CA 94105

                    1. re: tbiytc
                      n
                      nocharge RE: tbiytc May 26, 2011 02:54 AM

                      I have eaten at Town Hall many times over the years, but not very recently. Have also been to a number of corporate dinners at the upstairs private dining room. As often, the large-party dining experience is disappointing compared to the regular one in terms of food and ambience and, to me, Town Hall has been a poster child for this phenomenon. Now, if you you are buying out the main dining room, there are no ambience issues, but like any other restaurant catering to a large party, they will probably restrict your choices of dishes to a fairly small number. And those will most likely be "play it safe" choices to make sure everyone can find an acceptable dish. In other words, standard large-scale dining mediocrity.

                      Town Hall is not much different than any other restaurant when it comes to the downside associated with large parties. If you are going there on a scouting expedition to try out the food, you might want to figure out what kind of "play it safe" dishes they would serve to a large party rather than just ordering the best dishes on the menu. And, of course, that goes for any other restaurant you would scout as well.

                      1. re: nocharge
                        c oliver RE: nocharge May 26, 2011 07:54 AM

                        You touch on something that my daughter did quite well at Great American Music Hall. There was a vegetarian option and the other was a combo of a perhaps half piece of filet mignon and a smallish piece of halibut, each with a sauce in little individual pitchers.

                        1. re: nocharge
                          t
                          tbiytc RE: nocharge May 26, 2011 05:46 PM

                          That's a good suggestion for ordering when checking out a place in advance of a large group. Though of course there's always risk the food might be different on the night of the event.

                        2. re: tbiytc
                          w
                          whiner RE: tbiytc May 27, 2011 06:57 PM

                          They used to do an *extraordinary* duck preparation. I don't see it on the menu at the moment, but it was why I kept going back. Perhaps you could ask about it? The veal meatballs are currently served in a slightly different preparation than the last time I was there, but I'm betting it is basically the same thing -- also excellent. The menu is certainly similar in style, but different in specifics since the last time I went. If you think your guests could handle duck as the red meat, I would ask about it -- it was actually a truly excellent preparation and I had it on three separate nights, so I know it wasn't a fluke.

                          1. re: whiner
                            t
                            tbiytc RE: whiner May 29, 2011 06:41 PM

                            Thanks for the recommendation. We're planning to have dinner at Town Hall soon to give it a try, and will see if duck is an option. We're pretty adventurous so duck is totally fine, but have to consider whether it would work for guests.

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                            Town Hall Restaurant
                            342 Howard St., San Francisco, CA 94105

                            1. re: tbiytc
                              t
                              tbiytc RE: tbiytc Jun 8, 2011 11:19 PM

                              Update: we had dinner at Town Hall and really enjoyed it. Ordered the tuna tartar with fried green tomatoes and the peppers with crab stuffing; the starters had strong, concentrated seafood flavors. For main courses, we tried the catfish on black-eyed peas and ham hock (loved the smokiness of the ham with the fish) and the flat iron steak dish (very tender and cooked to medium-rare as requested). For dessert, the blue bottle coffee ice cream dish with doughnuts is a winner. We will definitely eat there again and would really like to keep them as a possible wedding venue, but unfortunately it might be a bit too small. I got information from their event coordinator mentioning that the total capacity of 120 will drop to about 105 if the event needs a small dance floor.

                              -----
                              Town Hall Restaurant
                              342 Howard St., San Francisco, CA 94105

                  2. Melanie Wong RE: tbiytc May 24, 2011 01:00 PM

                    Here's a thread that might be of use, looking for a corporate party venue for 130-150 people.
                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/772932

                    I couldn't find a report on how Michael Mina turned out.

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: Melanie Wong
                      t
                      tbiytc RE: Melanie Wong May 24, 2011 01:02 PM

                      Thanks, Melanie! Some useful info there.

                      1. re: tbiytc
                        Melanie Wong RE: tbiytc May 24, 2011 01:12 PM

                        Wondering if anyone has been to a wedding at Sens. It's been a long time since I've eaten there myself. The parking garage alone makes it worth considering.
                        http://www.sens-sf.com/events-wedding...

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                        Sens
                        4 Embarcadero Center, San Francisco, CA 94111

                        1. re: Melanie Wong
                          t
                          tbiytc RE: Melanie Wong May 24, 2011 06:39 PM

                          I haven't been, but I'll check it out. Would love to hear from someone who's been to Sens recently or attended a private event there.

                          1. re: tbiytc
                            JasmineG RE: tbiytc May 24, 2011 09:22 PM

                            I went to a happy hour there a few weeks ago; the patio is really nice. The food is fine, but not great.

                            1. re: JasmineG
                              t
                              tbiytc RE: JasmineG Jun 20, 2011 11:23 PM

                              I ate lunch at Sens to check out the room and the space. The food was okay. We had lamb tartare, one of the salads and the tuna special. Everything was very fresh and they used some interesting spices, but nothing wowed us, either.

                      2. re: Melanie Wong
                        Caitlin McGrath RE: Melanie Wong May 26, 2011 12:41 PM

                        IIRC, TorontoJo's company party wasn't taking place for a few months, so she hasn't reported back on Michael Mina yet.

                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                          TorontoJo RE: Caitlin McGrath May 30, 2011 01:56 PM

                          Yep, the company party is in September. I promise to report back, though!

                          1. re: TorontoJo
                            TorontoJo RE: TorontoJo Sep 19, 2011 10:04 AM

                            Here's my report on Michael Mina:

                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7729...

                            :)

                            1. re: TorontoJo
                              t
                              tbiytc RE: TorontoJo Oct 2, 2011 07:41 PM

                              Thank you for posting your report!

                      3. o
                        oaktowngirl RE: tbiytc Jun 1, 2011 07:46 PM

                        Garibaldis- on Presidio.

                        1. t
                          tripleee RE: tbiytc Sep 6, 2011 05:41 PM

                          Not sure if you are still looking for a restaurant for your wedding, but I recently inquired about a buyout for a rehearsal dinner at Pizzaiolo in Oakland and was given an estimate of 15k to start (include food but I can't remember about drinks.) for a Friday night. Great food, great space and a backyard too!

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                          Pizzaiolo
                          5008 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

                          1. g
                            Grubbjunkie RE: tbiytc Sep 7, 2011 03:08 PM

                            Not sure about number but I once attended a wedding at Bix that was fabulous. Very glamorous, and just old school enough to work for a semi-formal gathering without being too pretentious. The food was great and the bar is legendary.

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                            Bix
                            56 Gold St., San Francisco, CA 94133

                            1. a
                              artemis RE: tbiytc Sep 7, 2011 03:20 PM

                              I recently went through this for a much smaller party and posted information back on the places I spoke with, including menus, cake cutting fees, deposits, etc (Town Hall, Perbacco, One Market, Absinthe, and Prospect). Lunch is significantly less expensive. I ended up going with One Market.

                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/802678

                              -----
                              Perbacco
                              230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                              One Market Restaurant
                              1 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94105

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