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"Formal" foodie lunch near brooklyn city hall!

My bf (oh wait, now he's my FIANCE!) and I are planning an Oct cityhall wedding in Brooklyn. We will have a really small ceremony and then a larger lunch with extended family before heading off to our cocktail party/reception with the whole gang.

We were not initially planning to add lunch, but now we realize that we probably won't be eating anything at the party itself and it would be a good idea not to be starving. We will probably be 15-20 people and we do have one person with a shellfish allergy. We contacted Brooklyn Fare to see if they would do a private lunchtime event, but no dice.
It would be most ideal to find someplace similar to that, especially since they have experience with a tasting menu that takes place for a specific time (I believe theirs is two hours,) which would be awesome for planning/transportation purposes and photographer purposes.

Any ideas?! Our cocktail venue is in cobble hill so we're not trying to trek out to Billyburg or anything- sticking in the area from Park Slope-->Ft Greene-->DUMBO-->Downtown is a must.

We also thought about Colony, but neither of us have ever eaten there.

Edited to add- by "formal" I mean reasonably nice and well-served. Everyone but us will be in cocktail attire, not tuxes or anything.


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  1. Lunch and your party size both make it tough in that area. Many of the places in the area are not large enough for you.

    Perhaps you can try to call Battersby/Grocery/Saul and see if they would open early for a private party.

    Colonie is very good. but they don't do lunch either.

    other random thoughts (I assume from contacting Brooklyn Fare that cost is not a major concern):

    Prime Meats is worth checking out, but it's a good bit down court street. Mile End is close and good food, but probably too small for your group.
    I haven't been yet, but Runner & Stone is getting some decent press on lunch.
    Seersucker seems to be open to private parties based on their website.
    Bocca Lupo has a decent selection and can probably fit you.

    2 Replies
    1. re: MK11201

      Thanks for the responses!
      Prime Meats may be an option, but I have had some really mediocre meals there lately which kind of turns me off to giving them business on such a special day.
      We did go to runner and stone a few weeks back (about 3 days after they opened) and had a pretty good meal, and they do have that private downstairs area so that might be an option.
      Battersby might be a great choice, especially since they seem used to the tasting menu format (which we would do for ease and time reasons.) I haven't been to Battersby yet but the man has and he loves it. That might be our next call!

      So excited to hear any other suggestions as well.

      1. re: CarmenR

        Ganso is also worth a look. I've been there a few times. it's solid, nearby, reasonable, and delicious.
        check out the reviews on chowhound if you're not familiar with it.

    2. I think that Queens will handle 15-20 people for lunch. The decor is not very hip, but the food is quite good, particularly the specials. Also don't discount Archives, the restaurant in the Marriott at Brooklyn Bridge. Certainly not adventurous dining, but the food is surprisingly decent.

      Note that if you were doing this a year ago (or hopefully a year from now), I would have strongly recommended the River Café. So if you have a 1st anniversary lunch gig, I'd suggest keeping it in mind.

      1 Reply
      1. re: bobjbkln

        To CarmenR: Queen, not Queens, if you want to contact them. I haven't been there in years, but I did have a good lunch there the last time I went (which might be as much as 10 years ago). It's a sort of old-school-formal Italian-American restaurant in feel - white tablecloths and such, but not high-end-style formal, if you get what I mean. Maybe you know the place, anyway.

        Congratulations on the wedding!

      2. a few ideas:

        we love colonie. great food and very good service. i'm not sure they are open for lunch though.

        what about rucola? or frankies 457 (they have that awesome back brick house and outside area)? or chio on columbia street (they also have a big outside area)?

        some other ideas: brucie, runner & stone, or the good fork in red hook?

        frankly, none of these are even on the same playing field as brooklyn fare; not sure you would find something even comparable in the NYC area except perhaps 11 Madison Park or Per Se.

        1. By Brooklyn City Hall, I take it you mean the Municipal Building. If you are planning for October, I think you should call River Cafe as I would hope they would be able to reopen a year after Sandy. Most "formal" dining in the area.

          As others have pointed out, your options get limited as many of the better places are not open for lunch. I'm curious as to why you are looking for a tasting menu. By that do you mean you want a more slowly paced meal? There aren't many places in the area that do tasting menus and probably none for lunch.

          So I'll make a some additional suggestions in the area which should be open for lunch. I like Chez Moi a lot. French bistro style food with good service.Bacchus is a bit further away and more casual. If you like Japanese, Hibino is very good. There is a new place further down on Henry that I have not been to yet but heard good things about - Libertador which is an Argentine steakhouse but i don't know their hours. If you are having the wedding on Friday, Char No 4 is open. Clover Club's food is probably too casual.

          1. I second the recommendation for Frankie's, if you can't get the River Cafe. Check out their "stable" building, which fits 20-40 people. (Technically, Frankie's events/catering business is a separate business, so here is the website:


            As much as I love the food at Ganzo, the place is too casual for what you want. I can't see your dressed-up guests sliding into the wooden booths and slurping down bowls of ramen.

            3 Replies
            1. re: parkslopemama

              The River Cafe has been closed since Hurricane Sandy -- The space was all but destroyed. :-/ Here's hoping Buzzy can bring it back better than ever.

              1. re: parkslopemama

                Parkslopemama is right on target. Frankie's back space is perfect for parties, we had one there. Ganso is great for ramen but way too casual and the wooden booths are fixed and would make seating awkward for a party that size I don't believe it's open for lunch yet but I really like red gravy, maybe they would open for a party. Queen is good, old school Italian and definitely open for lunch. One other thought is the relatively new Italian place down on atlantic! I think it's called hopeland. We had a couple nice lunches there and i like the vibe a lot.

                1. re: parkslopemama

                  The River Cafe would be the best. They might open by end of March, they are confident that they will open in April. They are not taken March reservations though.
                  Frankies back room is a good choice. If the weather was nicer they have a backyard that is great.

                2. As many have pointed out, River Cafe (if they're open) is the most formal / fancy choice. The food is solid (if I find a bit overpriced) but the view is... well, hard to beat.

                  Frankie's back room / shack / whatever is another excellent choice... the food might not be as fancified as at RC, but it's excellent and consistent and a sight cheaper. The room is nice as well.

                  Also, many places that wouldn't normally be open for lunch might be willing to do a special service for you, given that you're willing to pay up to Brooklyn Fare level prices.

                  If the weather's nice, the garden at Convivium Osteria in Park Slope is lovely - and if it's a bit chilly that day, the inside is lovely as well, be it upstairs in the main dining room or downstairs in the wine cellar.

                  Some other thoughts - and again, these may not normally serve lunch, but it wouldn't hurt to ask / offer some money their way:

                  In Cobble Hill / Carrol Gardens: Saul, Battersby, The Grocery

                  In Dumbo / Brooklyn Heights: Henry's End (fun for adventurous eaters - they specialize in game meats that time of year), ReBar (lunch menu wouldn't fit the bill, but they could probably do a bunch of their dinner fare for a special event), Vinegar Hill House (or Hillside, their wine bar), Colonie

                  Park Slope: Blue Ribbon Brasserie, Rose Water, Applewood, Al Di La.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: sgordon

                    Thank you (and all!!!) for the amazing recs. Battersby is being kind of...not friendly about the whole thing (we emailed them over a week ago asking if it was a possibility and they responded today that they needed to "check with their staff" to see if it could be done..) so that doesn't leave a good taste in our mouths (pun intended) to make this an easy transition.
                    I didn't think of Al Di La, which is somewhere that we frequent and that my fiance's mom LOVES, so a buyout there may be an option as well, especially since we are thinking of doing it during the time between lunch and dinner.

                    I think we're both still holding out hope for River Cafe, but these other options sound amazing!