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Dinner for 400-500, Summer of 2010


foodandreason
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A colleague of mine is organizing a conference to be held next summer in Gaithersburg, MD. This conference usually has a dinner one night. Apparently the culinary expectations are rather high; the previous conference organizers have managed to put together something with decent food (it's recently been held mostly in Europe). Here are the constraints:

  • 400 to 500 people
  • Between $40 and $100 per head
  • Located near Gaithersburg or DC (traveling downtown could be fun; traveling to somewhere out in Virginia, probably not so appreciated)
  • Seating arrangements which are not inconsistent with a keynote being given
  • Good food

Any ideas?

The ever-popular Smoky Glen Farms has been suggested, but it isn't exactly good food.

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One problem I know friends have had planning big events in Washington is that, other than hotels, most places large enough charge a significant rental fee since this is, uh, Washington. Also, there are not the variety of independent rental spaces like they have in New York available.

I don't know how they do it, or how expensive it is, but your friend could check with either the American Indian museum or American art museum at the Smithsonian because they both have fabulous food at their cafes and events. Also, the Newseum is known as a place for good events with good food. The Corcoran as well...

Wonder if the lobby at the Old Ebbits Grill could handle 500 seated? It's not haute cuisine but they seem to handle large groups well.

Also, for $100 person a head I wonder if some of the top chefs in Washington wouldn't cater if an appropriate space could be found.

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New Fortune, a Chinese restaurant in Gaithersburg, can seat up to 500 for banquets. Their dim sum is first rate, but I haven't been there for a banquet to know how good a job they do for a crowd that large.

There ARE Chinese weddings there nearly every weekend, for whatever that says.

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New Fortune, a Chinese restaurant in Gaithersburg, can seat up to 500 for banquets. Their dim sum is first rate, but I haven't been there for a banquet to know how good a job they do for a crowd that large.

There ARE Chinese weddings there nearly every weekend, for whatever that says.

I just went to one there this weekend. It was pretty decent. I would say that most of the food was above average for most local Chinese places, but I didn't have anything that I found really memorable either - a lot of the dishes seemed pretty underseasoned. But I think it depends on the menu. This meal was very heavy on the seafood, and I think it might better with more land animal type dishes. The server for our table was very cranky, but the others seemed pretty nice. The two dishes that I liked were the roasted chicken, the lobster, and the cold jellyfish.
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Thank you very much for the suggestions. I think at the moment we are leaning towards the idea of renting an interesting space and then finding a caterer as well. Apparently the National Zoo has a pavilion that they'll rent out; and then maybe BBQ from Rocklands, which apparently can do that site.

The suggestion of New Fortune, however, is very interesting, as that would be much closer to our conference site. That is something which may be worth exploring.

Thanks much!

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