For a little while, the CA board had a spat of posts asking for help with wedding venues, catering, etc. Let's face it, the popular wedding resources rarely cater to anyone who cares about food (my rants about that are for another place and time). Mr. Geeky and I recently made it official and we did our best to make it about food. I'm hoping this thread might turn into a collective resource that people can look to and other San Diego CHers who'd like to review their own wedding food can throw in their $.02.
(Mods: this is about San Diego sources, but if the topic needs to be cross-posted, let me know)
Caterer: The French Gourmet
We didn't have a lot of choices, but TFG is on most of the caterer lists of any venue that has a preferred caterer list (we saw enough venues to know this). If anything, working with them taught us that caterers have strengths and those strengths are where you're going to have most bang for buck. Every other caterer answered the question, "What do YOU do well?" with "Whatever you want us to do... we can cook any cuisine." Frankly, I feel that answer is bullshit. Sure, anyone can attempt any cuisine, but they probably can't do all of them well. The French Gourmet is owned by a Frenchman who is also head chef... so we went with a French bistro menu served at 3 stations. And yes, contrary to everything I was told... I ate at my own wedding. In fact, I tried almost everything.
-Steak frites with a mushroom demiglace (for anyone who had to have a sauce). The frites were lightly flavored with truffle oil, garlic, and topped with sprinkle of parmesan and parsley. Side of mixed greens salad with pears and raspberry vinaigrette.
Execution: Flatiron steaks seared at the station, on a flat griddle, to any requested doneness. The fries were perfect and went fast enough that they never had time to become soggy. I didn't get a chance to peek at their kitchen, but I believe the fries were fried on site. Salad was fresh and a nice accompaniment to the steak.
Execution: Tomato/seafood broth spiked with saffron and white wine served on top of a toasted baguette slice and with fish, scallops, shrimp, and mussels. The broth was kept a little too cool, but the seafood was really fresh, good-sized (i.e. no wimpy bits of bay scallop), and more baguette slices with rouille (aka French aioli) on the side. Extremely flavorful and well-prepared.
-Risotto with roasted vegetables on the side (we'll call it a deconstructed ratatouille for the sake of the French theme ;))
Execution: Yes, we know risotto's not French, but we have a lot of vegetarian friends and picky kids... this dish was simple and filling enough to satisfy a wide range of palettes. The risotto was a little too dense and not creamy enough, but it was flavorful (choice of saffron or pesto) and rich. Veggies were good... not over-roasted. Presentation at this station was probably the prettiest, with blasts of color all over.
Dessert: Ice Cream Bar
Execution: We didn't go with them for the cake, but they did provide an ice cream bar. Beautiful setup... we had strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate ice creams. For about $2/person, they threw in a TON of toppings. The usual syrups, cherries, and sprinkles, plus crisp meringues, too. It was a smash. The kids nearly trampled the adults getting to it and it was a fantastic price. Well worth it and a smidge non-traditional, which made it an unexpected touch.
If anything, reviews on the web were a little spotty on the service, but I can honestly say that TFG went above and beyond any expectations we had. Their staff was warm and professional... casual enough to fit with the cozy ambiance that we were aiming for, attentive enough that everyone felt like they were taken care of. I'd say my only complaint was that they were a little too efficient at whisking away dishes... everyone was losing half-consumed dishes and drinks they meant to finish. They arrived on time, set up efficiently, cleaned up on time and even helped other vendors get out of there so we could meet our time limit (one hour for breakdown). They left us a TON of leftovers... more than we thought they would. Would I recommend them? Hell, yeah... with us, they balanced the need for good chow with the efficiency required to execute a good event.
I'll serial post on the rehearsal dinner, beer, and cake.
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