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Dinner for 150pp that celebrates a sense of place?

I'm trying to pull together a list of options for a banquet location that could do about 150 people on a Saturday night.

The catches are as follows:
- ideally it should be accessible by public transportation
- could be Boston or Cambridge
- is not a hotel banquet hall
- can accomodate a little speechifying (so it can't be too noisy)
- has chow-worthy food

This is for a gathering of performing arts professionals and will cap a 3 day conference in Boston. Traditionally, this event is designed to celebrate locale, history, quirkiness, and identity of place. One example of a previous event was a banquet in a reclaimed factory/distillery for a city that was rooted historically in that industry. We'd like to use this as an opportunity to showcase some aspect of Boston's identity or history.

I think ideally the organizers would love to work with a location that's a restaurant, or has its own kitchen facilities, rather than renting a large hall and also organizing caterers, but all suggestions are welcome.

My personal goal is to help make this an event that is in an interesting space AND has good food. Boston's a great food & drink city, I'd hate for my colleagues to come here and have rubbery banquet chicken.

Any brilliant ideas?

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  1. Season to Taste catered a fabulous 150 p wedding banquet at the Epi Center for my son's wedding. Very cool space, superb original food and wonderful service.

    1 Reply
    1. re: cassis

      Caterers love EpiCenter's loading dock and kitchen, but "Historic Boston" it ain't quite - although it is LEED Platinum certified.

      And agreed, whcn it comes to catering StT is well-loved (if pricey) for good reason.

    2. I don't know if its possible but the ICA would be a lovely facility in which to throw a shindig.

      1 Reply
      1. re: teezeetoo

        ica does have its own staff/food provider for events. the food is ok, but the setting is lovely.

      2. Depends on you budget, but I really enjoyed a holiday party at the MFA. Both the food and atmosphere were great. The Boston Public Library is another option. Again on the pricy side.

        1. Not sure of your budget, but I'd hard pressed to think of a place more unique (albeit probably expensive), and potentially meaningful to the arts community, than the Gardner Museum.

          Alternatively, Les Zygomates has done a great job of maintaining the original Leather District architecture, has very good food and has several party areas that can be configured differently (with sliding walls) to accomodate different party sizes.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Science Chick

            this number of guests would be a buy-out for les zyg. could be spendy for a saturday.

            op: curious as to budget?

          2. What could have more of a Boston sense of place than the Boston Public Library?

            They do have their own caterer (The Catered Affair) so you'll have to turn to others who have attended events to judge the food.

            There are some positive comments in past posts here.


            1 Reply
            1. You could also, once again depending on budget, check out the Hampshire House. A family member attended a function there and really enjoyed it. I can't imagine that it's cheap, though!

              1. you'll want to get the list of historic venues (call the State House operator). In addition to spots already mentioned The Cyclorama might interest you, and the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center(CMAC) which is in the 19th c. old Camb. Courthouse. you might also want to look into the Charletown Navy Yard's various options.

                1 Reply
                1. re: opinionatedchef

                  Thanks to everyone for responses thus far -- it's a good jumping off point, and you bring up ideas we haven't yet explored.

                2. Museum of Industry in Waltham great function spot... Waterworks Museum Chestnut Hill, Constitution Museum Charlestown,..

                  1. Forgot the Cyclorama and the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center (CMAC) 2nd street easy T access (very inexpensive to rent) is a nice place also... Most places has a preferred list of catering companies

                    1. The Elizabeth Gartner Museum can handle this, I've been to many a reception there. They offer a great tour and the garden is a great setting for the venue.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: treb

                        I'm sure you must mean Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, which I suggested above...

                      2. great ideas so far, but i will add the roofdeck at the taj. yes a hotel, but the food is good, and the deck overlooks the public gardens.

                        1. The Peabody Essex Museum sprang to mind, but it may be a bit too far afield for your crew; certainly, it's linked to the Boston area's identity and history.

                          Another excellent space tied to the area's mill industry is the American Textile Museum in Lowell. Again, a bit afield, and it depends on how married you are to showcasing the history of Boston versus other considerations.

                            1. Carrie Nation recently opened and they have a beautiful back room. It is right near the state house and Park Street.