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High end wedding reception food - Canoe vs. caterers

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Wanted to get thoughts on wedding reception food for downtown Toronto. my fiance and I are planning a wedding reception for ~125 people and are down to selecting either Canoe or getting it catered at an open venue downtown (i.e. Andrew Richards Design building, etc). Can anyone comment on the quality of the food at Canoe vs. the higher end caterers like Couture Cuisine, Presidential Gourmet, Daniel et Daniel, 10tation, etc? I know Canoe is tops for food and wondering if the above caterers come close to food quality. After you add in labour and rentals to the open venues (on top of catering!), the price point is pretty much the same, but we don't want to compromise on food quality for our guests... Thanks in advance!

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  1. 1) Canoe is not tops for food in Toronto. Not even close - but they do have a very nice view.
    2) The caterers you mentioned (the ones I'm familiar with) will provide adequate food, but typically not the quality you seem to be looking for.
    3) Mark Mcewan has a great deal of experience doing high-end catering - he even had a show on the food network for quite a while, doing weddings and the like - but the prices may be exorbitant (totally unsure, though).
    4). If you are truly seeking the best food that Toronto has to offer, you might see if Splendido is able to accommodate you at their restaurant, or do the catering for you.

    Hope this helps!

    4 Replies
    1. re: justxpete

      Thanks justxpete! With respect to Canoe, I meant pretty high quality for wedding reception food, especially since they have the kitchen in place and can provide restaurant quality food for 100+ people, as opposed to catered food from a mobile kitchen in many cases.

      MM and Spendido are great options, but the max capacity for MM at the Gardiner Museum and Spendido are 100 so that's a bit too small for us, unfortunately.

      1. re: luckystarlet

        Ah, well, to answer your original question then, were I you, I would opt for Canoe rather than the caterers you mentioned. In my experience, the food from those caterers in particular would not be on par with the level of cuisine you're looking for. Others may have differing experiences, however.

        Would you not consider having Mark Mcewan or Splendido do the catering? Or does price point then become an issue? They may be able to accommodate varying budgets.

        1. re: justxpete

          I *would* consider Mark McEwan/Spendido, but most of the downtown venues have a list of "exclusive caterers" you need to choose from...these preferred caterers include the usual suspects I mentioned in my OP.

          1. re: luckystarlet

            Ah. Well that's unfortunate. Other than finding a place that doesn't require a "vendor of preference", looks like Canoe, it is! it's not that the food is bad there, it's just not the best. But - were I going to a wedding reception (where food is normally horrible), I would be very pleased with the quality, and the expense that's gone in to the reception, were it at Canoe.

    2. What about George? They can hold a group of your size and have a beautiful courtyard patio for the summer.

      2 Replies
      1. re: JennaBean

        Thanks JennaBean for the suggestion. However, it appears George can't be bought out for a Saturday night event.

        1. re: luckystarlet

          Sorry. I know that Canoe is a good resto, it is just not my thing and I really do not like the "new look" so I have opion to offer on that front. I've used all of the caterers you've listed above and in terms of high-end, IMO, I've had the best luck with 10tation. Be very specific, tell them the type of ingredients you want used, the style of platting and service and I think you should have a lovely meal.

      2. No contest...Canoe! They might not be the best in the city but they are well organized and lets face it the food is still stellar. My fiancee and I are getting married in the summer and had terrrible time dealing with D&D and 10tation. I would NOT trust them at all!!! We have a much smaller party and are holding it at the Gilead Cafe...maybe you should look into the Gardiner where he does his big weddings. We also love George but if doesn't it doesn't work.

        1. I would also throw auberge du pommier in the mix. The dinning area is gorgeous and serene. I really like the food there and the service has always been good.

          1. I had the same list of caterers when planning my wedding and ended up going with Jamie Kennedy at the Gardiner. We had around 110 people and while it wasn't cramped, I think 125 may be a little tight in there. The food was fantastic and was beyond my (and my guests) expectations. They were very flexible when we asked for additions to the menu (which were also very reasonably priced). JK created a menu and offered suggestions that were both interesting, but still familiar enough for a lot of our picky-eating guests.

            I've been to events where D&D and 10tation catered, and were happy with both of them. For my own planning, D&D were much more responsive and willing to create custom menu items. We ended up with the Gardiner since we loved the space, but if we went to another venue, we would've chosen D&D.

            Another place we briefly considered was Malaparte, which is catered by O&B. The venue wasn't finished when we were planning, so we passed on it, but I've had good experiences with O&B - solid food and service.

            Good luck!

            4 Replies
            1. re: klf

              The feedback so far has been great - thanks everyone, I knew I came to the right forum! So far I've had a fantastic response from the representatives at 10tation and Couture, while D&D didn't even respond to my inquiry.

              What we're trying to figure out is getting the best value for our $$$, as these are not bargain options (which we're ok with).... This came as a surprise to me, but once you add in all the costs associated with venue rental, staff, and food related rentals with a caterer, it ends up being more expensive than Canoe! We get that it may be difficult for a caterer to achieve really high food standards at an outside venue, but what we DON'T want is to pay more money for food that is going to be significantly inferior.

              The view from Canoe is impressive, and would be a great experience for our out of town guests.

              klf, as I mentioned, Gardiner is a bit too tight for us, but I've heard wonderful reviews for it.

              1. re: luckystarlet

                Based on the weddings I've been to, I've never found D&D and 10tation to be superior to Canoe in food. I never looked into Canoe for our wedding since our dates were booked up, but if they are less expensive than what the caterers are charging, then I'd go with them.

                And you're right: the view is hard to beat!

                1. re: luckystarlet

                  @luckystarlet - You just read our minds with your question. My fiance and I are currently going through the same contemplation. We worked out the approx numbers and Canoe seems to be more affordable than booking an open venue in Toronto and then using one of there "preferred/exclusive" caterers.

                  My fiance has had food catered by Oliver & Bonacini before and he said it was delicious. I've also had coworkers who have eaten at Canoe during winter/summerlicious and have really enjoyed it.

                  Food is one important aspect of our reception as well. We were thinking of eating at Canoe sometime soon to get a feel for the vibe and the food. We've never been there before.

                  When I was looking into Daniel et Daniel, I read how they have an over-the-counter restaurant. I know it may not nearly be as good as when they cater, but I've read really great reviews. I also have read their service is great, but I can't speak for myself.

                  Anyway, good luck with finding a place! I'm glad to see that my fiance and I are not alone when it comes to these kinds of wedding decisions! lol

                  1. re: rayandtess

                    We've been to Canoe for dinner and it was a really nice dinner out. Food was yummy and service was great. It was really busy so at times they were a bit slow, but the staff had a great attitude and for the most part we were well looked after the whole night.

                    With Canoe, we have no doubts that the food would be top notch for a wedding (not debating its food quality as a restaurant - that's for another thread!) and we are skeptical that the same quality can be achieve at an open venue by most caterers.

                    Also, because Canoe is an actual restaurant, you can pre-select two or three entrees and your guests can choose from the list the day-of. We really like that a lot and would prefer not to have guests pick their entree when they RSVP several months ahead of time.

                    That said, you have a lot more flexibility with your food choices with a caterer, whereas Canoe has a certain style that they adhere closely to. So if you're looking for food that's really unique or has a cultural element to it, a caterer could probably accommodate better.

                    Also glad that we're not alone in the process!!