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Large event in Houston next May

I am organising a drinks reception for a large University conference in Houston next year. Right now we are looking for venues that can hold around 350 people and have something of a wow factor. At the moment the House of Blues and the Grove have been mentioned. At that scale we are not expecting gourmet food but we do like to think we have fairly high standards. I should point out this a British reception so we usually focus first and foremost on getting the drinks right, followed by a cool venue and then nice canapes. Any suggestions of places we might try.
The conference will be at the Convention Centre downtown so not to far afield would be good. Someone mentioned the Petroleum Club but others seemed to think that might be too far away...

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  1. Depending on the dates, what about something at Minute Maid during an Astros game?

    Wait...

    Nah.

    1. Not sure but perhaps the Aquarium downtown could handle the #'s? Might also ck the museum of Natural Science, butterfly or the Contemporary Arts they can handle large events and use a third party company to handle food and beverage. might time this right to get some free entertainment at the Miller Outdoor Theater..

      1. The Four Seasons is not far and could accommodate your crowd. Great food and drinks too.
        http://www.fourseasons.com/houston/ce...

        The Corinthian downtown is a venue, you'd want to locate a reliable bar service. http://www.thecorinthianhouston.com/

        Same with Magnolia Ballroom: http://www.magnoliaballroom.com/

        Also the Majestic, which used to be a movie theatre, then a well sought venue:
        http://majesticmetro.com/

        1. As beverage is the first prioriy, consider the Beer Hall at Saint Arnold Brewery. It accommodates up to 300, and beer is included in the rental price. You would need to arrange catering.

          http://www.saintarnold.com/brewery/re...

          4 Replies
          1. re: chefspop

            Having arranged Texas meals and activities for large groups in the past, I'd suggest you check to see how much one of the legendary Texas BBQ meccas would charge to cater. Foreigners do equate Texas with barbecue, and I think they'd find that fun. I wouldn't bother, though, if all you can get is Goode Co, or some other mediocre company.

            If you're doing any touring with your Brits, they'll also think it's great fun to stop off at Cavender's, or some similar Western store, to pick up appropriate duds for the party, and souvenirs to take home.

            Yee haw.

            1. re: chefspop

              St Arnolds and good barbeque would be a great way to go.

              1. re: jscarbor

                Yes it really would. And even though the OP said "canapes," and some folks might not think BBQ works for that, it really does. You can set out chafing dishes with any or all of the following: sliced brisket, sausage, ham, chicken, pulled pork or small appetizer sized pork ribs, and mini-hamburger buns, or sliced party rounds of white bread. Do some traditional "relish tray" items like pickles, green onions, etc. I'd probably do southern-style baked beans that you can eat with a fork rather than our soupy pintos. And potato salad. Individual banana puddings and Pecan Tassies for dessert.

                You can do a quite nice (and fun) hors d'oeuvres spread with a barbecue theme.

                Would be great to see everyone standing around all decked out in Western Duds eating their 'cue and drinking their beer. Very typical of the region, and festive, and great for photo ops. My own personal opinion, after having been an event planner for a number of years, is that this would be much more memorable and better-received than the standard ol' "drinks and cocktails in a nice venue" - something that you could do (and probably have done) anywhere.

                1. re: Jaymes

                  Maybe catered by Beavers? They do other stuff in addition to bbq but it would be pretty texan ish type stuff.

            2. What about something in a museum? Or art gallery?

              1 Reply
              1. re: jscarbor

                I once did a Halloween party in a wax museum. Are there any interesting, quirky museums in Houston?

                Or just the classy stuff.