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Fawning Over 20 Finnicky Foreigners

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Salut! I am a Washington DC Chowhound who seeks help from my Quebecois confrères. A group I organized, The Oyster Foundation, meets annually in June. Our members come from France, Switzerland, the United States and Brazil. In 2003, we went to a resort in St. Michael's, Maryland. 2002 was a restaurant in Paris. We would like to do 2004 in Montreal.

Our requirements are:

*A private room to accommodate approx. 20. A curtained-off area in a large dining room would not be acceptable.
*Good acoustics, since our program includes pre-dinner speeches. This can be in a separate room if that makes better sense. Audio/Visual aids are not required.
*A banquet dinner, partly seafood. A superb chef. A menu with a strong local accent using local products.
*Interesting surroundings -- a good view would be desirable.
*An event manager who will work with me to make sure the menu and everything else are exactly right.
*I do not rule out hotels, but am interested in hearing from private restaurants as well.
*A bilingual staff since a few of us (not me) are more comfortable in French.

Another member of the Foundation and I plan to visit Montreal for a day in the early Spring to look at the likely spots.

Thanks very much for any suggestions you can send my way.

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  1. Here are a few to get you started:

    Anise (104 Laurier West, 514 848-0989, www.anise.ca) can accommodate groups of up to 20. Cooking, decor and service are superb.

    Les Caprices de Nicolas (2072 Drummond Street downtown, 514 282-9790, www.lescaprices.com) has at least one room that can be reserved for groups. Probably the city's best modern French resto. Expensive.

    Chez L'Épicier (311 St-Paul East, 514 878-2232, www.chezlepicier.com) in Old Montreal has a group room (with no view, I believe). Highly inventive fusion cooking that features local ingredients.

    According to its website, Café Fereirra Tratorria (1446 Peel, 514 848-0988, www.ferreiracafe.com) has an upstairs room for private parties. The downstairs has won several interior decoration awards; don't know what the upstairs look like. The excellent cooking, earthy but stylish, is modern Portuguese. Interesting wine list, largely Portuguese with many private imports, and a huge selection of Ports.

    The popular east-end bistro Au Petit Extra (1690 Ontario East at Papineau, 514 527-5552, www.aupetitextra.com) also owns the next-door Lion d'Or, a nearly intact 1920s art deco cabaret, that they rent out for groups. (It might be a bit too spacious for yours.) Cooking is classic French bistro. Good wine list. Affordable.

    Many small restos are open to reserving the entire establishment for groups, especially on weeknights and Sundays.

    Language won't be a problem as all popular restaurants are used to hosting anglophones.

    Please tell us more about the Oyster Foundation.

    2 Replies
    1. re: bftp

      Thank you, bftp (m. or mlle.). That was exactly the kind of response I was hoping for. I have already checked out the web sites you cite and they look very good. I will be calling them and trying to establish contact so that our advance party (of 2) can be properly received during the test run in April.

      I appreciate your question about our group. In a few days, I will send you the URL of our website, which specifies who we are, what we do, why we have coalesced, and what we find amusing.

      1. re: bftp

        Here, "bftp" et al, as I promised, is the information about our little group, The Oyster Foundation. If you want to see where we went in June 2003, check out the section devoted to The Inn at Perry Cabin. And by all means, look at Banquet Menu 2003.

        Although it's not properly documented, in 2002 we went to Le Train Bleu in Paris. That's the picture on the opening page.

        The raison d'être of the organization is what we call the Oyster Papers -- short, informal talks that are designed to interest and entertain the members. If you have the energy and interest to go through some of these, I think the most rewarding are "The Power of Coincidence" from 2002 and "My Two Stooges" from 2003.

        There are other sections devoted to the roster, news of the membership, etc. Some of the entries are frivolous, but we ain't out to save the world when we're on holiday. The members come from three different continents, and they all represent friendships I formed in my perapetetic career, most of them 15 years ago or more.

        As you can see, if you're playing along with this, food and décor are important, but the primary accent is on the company. Thus, the environment for our meeting must be comfortable and we must be able to hear one another.

        I strongly appreciate the suggestions you've made so far, and I look forward to pursuing them and others that Montreal chowhounds may provide.

        Stephen Banker
        The Oyster Foundation

        Link: http://www.moleski.net/oybook/

      2. Le Latini is one of Montreal's top Italian restaurants.I attended a small wedding banquet there in a beautiful room in the wine cellar. Top food, top service, great wines the works, its worth checking out.

        1. While those foodie restos mentioned already would be excellent choices I have to say that I had a private dinner party last night in the "Tea Room" at Queue De Cheval, steakhouse and Raw bar.

          The setting is very exclusive and service is top notch. The place is pricey, but it meets many of your above requirements. Think Mortons, but with a Montreal twist