I'm am (finally!) graduating from grad school this May and am planning a party for friends and family. It will likely be in the early evening at one of the picnic shelters in S. Minneapolis. I'd like the food to be in the vein of either upscale or unique picnic food. I'm thinking we could get hot and cold dishes, as long as the hot are still tasty warm and at room temp. We'll probably have about 50 people including a dozen or so young children and would probably spend up to $500 (we'll buy soda and beer on our own). We'll have a handful of vegetarians so I'd like meat and veggie options, so that excludes BBQ or similar meat-focused cuisines.
I know people have had good luck with Chowgirls Catering, so we'll likely give them a call. I was also thinking of getting platters from Holy Land. In general I'd love any suggestions for caterers that can work in this budget or restaurants that have a good record of catering parties. Ideally someone could come out and set up the food and provide plates, utensils, etc. "Easy to work with" is huge as I'll be finishing my dissertation this spring and don't want to deal with lots of negotiations or decisions regarding the party.