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Jun 23, 2011 08:34 PM

In Search of Awesome Philly Wedding Caterer

Hello fellow Chowhounders! I'm in the midst of planning a wedding in Philly. I live in Seattle, but my fiance and I met in Philly and have lived there for several years (plus my whole family lives there). We're planning something dressy casual with a non denominational ceremony followed by dinner and dancing for 75-100 guests. We're thinking springtime for the big day and would like to have the whole shebang in one place (rather than ceremony at one place, reception at another).
We are both passionate about food and have no restrictions except I'd like to keep the food budget to <$150 pp. One place that seems reasonable is First and Palmer, the venue that also serves as headquarters for Feast Your Eyes catering. They seem like they have a lot of fun with food and did get a good mention in a thread on here a few months ago.
Food really is the most important aspect of our wedding, and I welcome any and all recommendations and leads (including restaurants that do catering). Nontraditional venues are also desirable, but not if it compromises the food significantly.

Thank you!

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  1. We loved the job Feast Your Eyes did for our party. We are going to use them again next year. The took care of everything, were very professional yet fun. The food was amazing.

    1. We had our wedding at Top of the Tower, at the top of the Bell Atlantic Tower, 19th and Arch. They really focus on the food. We did the whole thing there. It's been nearly 4 years and we haven't stopped hearing from our guests about the food. The management is great, and the staff we had that night was awesome.

      They are also BYOB, which for us meant we got better food than we'd would have gotten at the hotels we looked at because more of our money per person went to the food than the booze. We were able to keep per person liquor prices down much lower than any other venue could offer, given that there's no mark up when you haul it yourself!

      6 Replies
      1. re: urbanfabric

        Me too. You'd definitely have to go to a tasting though, the food may be different these days. Also, the venue is totally indoors, so you wouldn't get the nice spring weather. Of course, you also don't have to worry about inclement weather affecting the festivities. The BYO policy really helps keep costs down, when I got married there they would not only let you bring your own, but they'd buy hard alcohol for you at the state store and then return any unopened bottles after the wedding for a refund! The only drawback was they wouldn't let us bring kegs up, I guess they're trying to prevent people from having raging keggers but it would have been nice to bring a few 1/4 or 1/6 barrels of nice craft brews up 50 floors in the elevator instead of bringing cases upon cases of beer up.

        1. re: Buckethead

          Yeah, there was a little sweat equity involved in hauling the booze to the elevator. And, running it over the DE-PA state line. I mean, for anyone who might do that. Also, as an aside, we went through all of their tonic and they went out and bought more during the reception. Good people.

          1. re: urbanfabric

            Thanks...we go the extra two miles when required.

          2. re: Buckethead

            Not sure when you had your wedding there, but I've been the Chef for almost 8 years. We rarely get keg requests. We do allow clients to either bring in there own alcohol free-of-charge or we'll pick it up for a nominal charge. They also get all unused product back. Pretty sweet IMO.

            1. re: Buckethead

              I'm honored by your recommendation, Buckethead. I read your posts on here all the time! Thanks.

            2. re: urbanfabric

              Thanks for the kind words. I guess it feeds my ego that 4 years down the line you're still hearing about the food!

            3. Thanks for the replies so far! My fiance and I are a bit quirky/nontraditional and so are looking for unique venues that are open to various caterers. Some thoughts we had are Bartram's Garden and The Mask and Wig Club. Maybe 30th Street Station (the husband to be is a SEPTA nut). It does sound like Top of the Tower has great service- my med school had our formal there one year and it was a lot of fun. We will definitely look into it- we'll be in Philly at the end of the summer so I'm trying to line up tastings for then.

              3 Replies
              1. re: jerseytomato

                Please call us at 215-567-8787. I've been the Chef for Top of the Tower for almost 8 years. We will do a no-charge, pre-contract, no-strings tasting for both of you. We may be in your range.

                1. re: mlane

                  I've heard fantastic reviews about Top of the Tower. Would it be appropriate for a 100-120 person wedding? The site says that you work with a variety of budgets but is a $110/person a pipe dream for a Sat night?

                  1. re: D0416M

                    Not a pipe dream at all. We are able to work with our clients' budgets moreso than most other facilities, mainly due to the fact we do just about everything from scratch. Give a call and set up a tour.

              2. How about the Horticultural Center in Fairmount Park. It is beautiful and they also have the Japanese Tea Gardens. Steven Starr does the catering, One downside is no AC, so not good for summer weddings but otherwise, it's beautiful.

                1 Reply
                1. re: shana459

                  Unfortunately the website for the Horticulture Center says it is not available for booking at present.

                2. I attended a wedding at Trust (3rd and Arch, aka the "real world" house) recently and it was a beautiful setting. They don't have their own caterer and while they have some they recommend, you can bring your own. The one I went to used Birchtree Catering. Their apps during the cocktail hour were awesome. But there were some issues with dinner and bartending that would give me pause to recommend them.

                  If I were getting married these days and looking for a caterer, I would check out Jose Garces' Group.