I read with great interest Jill D.'s thread a week ago questing for easy party food... but we had even less time than she did to run around town and put together stuff for my birthday party, which was yesterday. Last Wednesday, at wit's end, I went into Bi-Rite for my meatloaf sandwich on rye and realized that they have catering. Eduardo, their kitchen manager, was a little harried because they had just about reached their limit on holiday orders, but he was very helpful nonetheless, and I snuck my order in under the wire. And all of it was tasty, maybe not as ultimate as some of your better caterers in town, but fine fare, and quite reasonable too.
We had shrimp with cocktail sauce, a little flabby but better than if they'd been too dry; lamb skewers with a minty dip which were gone in a flash; chicken drumettes that were vaguely sesame-flavored, a little bland but moist; ahi tuna sashimi chopped up with Asian pears in cucumber cups--a big hit; goat cheese and sun-dried tomato crostini; lots of their wonderful grilled vegetables with romesco sauce; beet salad that was perhaps the least successful item, neither the beets nor their marinade being especially flavorful; and crisp green beans tossed with roasted peppers, sliced almonds, and truffle oil that kind of acted as an earthy potpourri permeating the entire house.
It came to about $12/person, and would have been less than $10/person had we not ordered way too much of the beets and green beans (one area where I wish Eduardo had given me more guidance). Everything was presented on nicely-dressed platters, it was all ready on time, everybody thought everything was yummy, and all in all it was a breeze.
So a thumbs-up to Bi-Rite!