Myt wife's 30th birthday is coming up end of January and I'm trying to find a place in Northern NJ for a party for her. We haven't lived here long, and I also have never planned a party this big and don't have an unlimited budget, so I need some suggestions. BADLY need suggestions.
Here is what I know I'm looking for:
- Very good to great food
- Space for 20-25 people
- We live in Madison and would like to do it near us--towns we're thinking of would include Madison, Chatham, Morristown, Bernardsville, Summit, Montclair, Millburn. I'm open to other suggestions. The challenge is that I just don't know many good restaurants around here yet.
- Should be easy walking distance to a train for easy access for friends coming from NYC who won't have cars.
Here's what is flexible:
- Budget: I haven't decided if this will be a big sit-down dinner in the main dining room of a restaurant where everyone contributes to the final bill, or if it will be a private party in a reserved room where everyone mingles and I just get the check at the end. I feel like in the latter option, I'm almost obligated to get the check, whereas in the former scenario it's easier to get everyone to contribute. The reason I lean toward the former is that, simply put, I really can't afford to pay for dinner for 20-25 people at a great restaurant. So, this is the biggest sticking point. I would rather go to a great place that everyone could afford to go to if they all contributed and where we would have a meal to remember, than to go to a mediocre restaurant where at least I knew I could afford the bill. Are there nice restaurants where I could reserve a table for 25 and get a separate room and still have a sit-down dinner? If everyone contributes, I want to keep it to $40-$50 a head (including alcohol if it's not BYOB). If I have to pay for the whole thing, I've got to get cheaper than that. I can't afford to spend a couple thousand dollars on the party, as much as I would love to.
- cuisine: I'm open to a lot of different kinds of food. My wife is a little picky, but we can always work around that. I guess I'm imagining something with family style platters
- BYOB: In many ways I'd almost love a place that is BYO so that I could just bring a couple cases of wine and everyone could drink to their hearts content without worrying about a staggering liquor tab, but I'm open to suggestions.
Can anyone help? I thank you in advance for your guidance.
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