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In Search of Awesome Philly Wedding Caterer

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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.

                  1. My wife and I got married last year at Bartram's Garden (a lovely old botanical gardens with an 18th century stone barn), and used Diversity Catering. They were PHENOMENAL, and I've referred many more friends to them. We worked with Ken, who was incredibly personal, and really "got it" (in terms of what kinds of food we wanted). He helped us with every aspect of the wedding, from food down to the actual ceremony. Our guests had a great time, and we got TONS of compliments on the food, staff, and organization (all thanks to Ken). If you're planning your wedding here in Philly, you have to at least give them a call.
                    http://www.diversecatering.com/index....
                    good luck!!!

                    1. I would like to piggyback on this thread as I also recently got engaged and will be looking for a good caterer for a Philly-area wedding. We're still very early in the planning stages and I know absolutely NOTHING when it comes to anything wedding related. I'm just a typical guy who likes good food, basically. In my estimation, the only things people talk about after the wedding are how good the food and music were, so that's what I'm going to focus on. Thanks for any suggestions!

                      1. We got married at the Cescaphe Ballroom in Northern Liberties. It is a great space and the food was fabulous. Instead of doing the ceremony and then reception we did the following. 1.5 hours of cocktails and heavy hors devours followed by everyone being seated in ballroom. Once everyone was seated, we got married right off of the dance floor on the steps. After reception, the dinner and dancing began. I have also been to some nice weddings in the burbs and more mansion like settins such as Merion Tribute and Appleford where you bring caterer in. Feastivities does a great catering job. Check out the partyspace website for lots of ideas on local venues.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: lillotis

                          My husband and I were married at Top of the Tower this past April, and we can’t imagine a better wedding! We had a complete Top of the Tower experience. We had our rehearsal dinner with a seated meal on the 51st floor on Friday night and then had both the ceremony and reception on Saturday evening. Everything went off without a hitch. The staff was amazing throughout the entire process. We had everything we needed, wanted, and more! They answered any questions promptly and made me feel completely comfortable. It was great to work with people who you feel like you can trust from the initial meeting.

                          Our guests are still talking about the wedding. The food was AMAZING! I highly recommend going with stations to provide variety for your guests. The unique floor plan and layout keeps things interesting and your guests will love being able to utilize the entire 50th floor.

                        2. Almost a year later, I want to give an update. We did end up going with Feast Your Eyes catering, using the Mask and Wig Club in center city as our venue. We picked FYE because we had a fairly specific vision about what we wanted for our wedding, and FYE was very accommodating. Because we live in Seattle, we didn't have much time to spend in Philly interviewing caterers and doing tastings, so we picked FYE on good faith alone and did a tasting with them only during a brief Philly visit, which was a very positive experience. We did tasting stations (menu is attached) and everything was delicious. I personally was a little overwhelmed by the whole experience of getting married, so sadly can't comment on how the food tasted at the actual wedding, but we have been getting tons of compliments about it! Everyone had a different favorite dish- the korean tacos and the salmon were especially popular. Lini, our event coordinator from FYE, also did a phenomenal job. Not only did she coordinate the food, but she basically coordinated the whole wedding. I didn't have to worry about a thing, and she made sure things kept moving.

                          As a venue, Mask and Wig was a lot of fun. The space is a bit quirky and it meant mixing up the wedding timeline a bit to allow for some space reorganization, but it was worth it to have a unique, spirited and fun venue (that required minimal decoration).

                          Also, we had our rehearsal dinner at Zahav, and that was truly memorable. It was an overabundance of food (they basically served us most of the menu), all of it delicious. The lamb shoulder was a particular standout to me (rich and tender, with a great crust), but everything truly was great. I am glad that this restaurant is continuing to put out great food 3 years later.

                           
                          1 Reply
                          1. re: jerseytomato

                            We were married at the Phoenixville Foundry. It was incredible, but a bit expensive. Our caterer, on the other hand, was even more delightful and less expensive.

                            We used Provence Catering and Pamela spoke with us at length and then came up with a menu that she thought we would like based on our preferences. We enjoyed this so much more than the standard list of items to choose from. We also did it buffet style with multiple stations. Here are some examples of items we served:

                            -Prime filet mignon encrusted with pesto roasted until rare offered with a kalamata demi glace.
                            -Slow roasted Peking duck, scallions and hoisen sauce wrapped in Oriental pancakes.
                            -Ground lamb seasoned with fresh herbs, blended with goat cheese, collard greens and toasted pine nuts wrapped in puff pastry, baked until golden

                            We had a total of 17 items served, and they brought everything for the bar but the alcohol (state law forbids it). It also came with coffee, "cookies and milk," a customizable cake and fruit.

                            There were around 125 people and we paid less than $110 per person.

                            I highly recommend Pamela at Provence
                            http://www.provencecatering.com/