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Friday-Night Rehearsal Dinner for Fifty People


Al Dente
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I'm getting hitched in a couple of months and we're having difficulty deciding on a good venue for our rehearsal dinner. It will be on a Friday night and it includes about 50 people. We have a proposal from the hotel where most guests will be staying, but I think it will less than memorable-- you know, the dried out chicken cordon bleu or sirloin tips with mushroom sauce-gunk variety of meal. We'd rather have good honest simple food rather than mass produced chain hotel fare.

We're hoping to keep this under $50/head all in (perhaps well under) and serve beer and wine only. The guests will be staying right near the Friendship Heights metro stop, so it could be in that area, or somewhere easily metro accessible on the red line. Dupont, Woodley, or Cleveland Park would work. I'd like to keep it casual and fun.

Also, we have a kind offer from a friend in Bethesda to use his house for this shindig, so we've considered having it catered or just ordering a bunch of food from a good carry out place. Moby Dick's has been discussed as an option for a pile of kabobs and so forth.

Are there any brilliant ideas out there?

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I know that Michael Landrum has done at least one rehersal dinner in the past.  (Great story, his grill craps out and he goes to Home Depot and buys a Weber  to cook the dinner.)  You are far enough out that you might be able to get him to do an early seating for you.

Man, that would be the shiznit, but I don't think we could do it early enough. This would probably be around 7pm or so. Plus it's kinda far for these outta towners to find their way. Uncle Clem and Aunt Bea might get too confused in the big city.

Edited to retain my street cred.

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We had ours at McCormick and Schmicks in Bethesda.

It was....interesting...

All the OOT guests were at the Hyatt but the Hyatt wanted $10,000 to do the dinner...

I don't know what the in-laws ended up paying but they were happy with M&S.

I remember lousy salad and indiferrent entrees. And I was either really cold or really hot--can't remember which any more. The guests seemed happy though. (Not as happy as the next day but we had seriously fabu food at the wedding itself...)

My best tip is to type in the address of the hotel in to Yahoo, ask it for the closest resteraunts and start dialing... There must be some place that can accomodate you.

Good luck! (And if you can find a valium prescription to tide you over for the next few months, snatch it up!)

Jennifer

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We had our rehearsal dinner last October at Trattoria Sorrento, a highly overlooked italian joint in Bethesda. It was fabulous. They don't have a private room, but we had a section of the restaurant (split by a wall) for our 60 guests.

I think it ended up being around $30/person (not incl. alcohol), but we had like 6 courses.

Their website: www.trattoriasorrento.com

I don't think they ever advertise, and I never hear anything about the place, but in my opinion it's one of the more authentic italian restaurants in the area. Family owned and run.

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I just had my rehearsal dinner (and corresponding wedding) about 3 weeks ago, and we ended up having it in the Wine Room at Cafe Milano - it may be tough for about $50 a head with alcohol, but they did have some set meals that were under that price point. The room was great because it was completely private, overlooked Prospect and you didn't have to deal with the bar crowd.

We also looked at Les Halles which has a private room off the bar - and might be at your price point. Other places we looked at included Zola (tough staff to deal with), Chef Geoffs (some of the worst food I've put in my mouth), 1789 (a little too stuffy for our group), Butterfield 9 (didn't like the space) and DC Coast (too much $$$).

If you are looking for something a little different - we had a party that week in the private room in the basement of Pizza Paradiso (G'town) which was handled really well. It's kind of a different approach to a rehearsal dinner, but one that could be fun.

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I just had my rehearsal dinner (and corresponding wedding) about 3 weeks ago, and we ended up having it in the Wine Room at Cafe Milano - it may be tough for about $50 a head with alcohol, but they did have some set meals that were under that price point.  The room was great because it was completely private, overlooked Prospect and you didn't have to deal with the bar crowd.

We also looked at Les Halles which has a private room off the bar - and might be at your price point.  Other places we looked at included Zola (tough staff to deal with), Chef Geoffs (some of the worst food I've put in my mouth), 1789 (a little too stuffy for our group), Butterfield 9 (didn't like the space) and DC Coast (too much $$$). 

If you are looking for something a little different - we had a party that week in the private room in the basement of Pizza Paradiso (G'town) which was handled really well.  It's kind of a different approach to a rehearsal dinner, but one that could be fun.

Thanks and congratulations! I'll look into Pizza Paradiso and Les Halles.

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I got married two and a half years ago. We had our rehearsal dinner at Sergio's in Silver Spring. I believe that it was below $50 a person (I did not pay), and the food was quite good. It is right off of the Red Line at the Silver Spring Metro (about a five minute walk).

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It might be a little further than you want, but we had our rehearsal dinner about 2 years ago at Trattoria Da Franco in old town Alexandria. They have a private room upstairs, which can easily hold 50+ people. We had a 3 course meal with 2 choices for appetizers and dessert and 4 choices of entrees. The cost (if I remember correctly) was $28pp before tax, tip and alcohol. We had an open bar, but they can do just beer/wine. The staff was friendly and the food was surprisingly good.

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