This past Friday, we had our tasting at the reception venue. My parents, Dr. Groomy and I headed over around lunch time to sample some menu items and make selections for our reception! We had such an enjoyable time and I am SOOOO excited for our reception…attending the tasting made it feel all the more real to me. I was also excited to show my parents the reception space for the first time. They’ve only seen pictures so far, so it was great to have them experience the space first hand.
We started off by discussing linen options and looking at some samples.
I asked them to have samples in both gold and red (our two main colors), so I could see how linens could dress up and dress down the tables. After mulling over the choices for awhile, we decided to sit and eat first and discuss the linens and logistics afterwards.
We started off with the wines. The house wine for our venue is Grand Cru, and we tried their Chardonnay and their Cabernet Sauvignon. Both were fabulous. Dr. Groomy and I love wine and we have started to develop a more discerning pallet—and I would definitely say that these were two great choices! Unfortunately, Dr. Groomy couldn’t try any wine because he had to go to work afterwards, but I can vouch for how yummy they were.
Next, we tried the salad options.
Fresh Herb Salad: mesclun spring mix and crisp romaine with sweet herbs, grape tomatoes, and rice wine vinaigrette
Spinach Salad: spinach greens with a goat cheese crouton and oven dried tomatoes served with a balsamic vinaigrette and citrus garnish
Bibb Salad: Boston Bibb lettuce, roasted roma tomatoes, toasted pine nuts and shaved parmesan cheese with Italian herbs vinaigrette
Caprese Salad: sliced roma tomatoes, fresh buffalo mozzarella with sweet basil, aged balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil
All of the salads were really delicious, but we especially loved the Bibb Salad and the Caprese Salad. The Spinach Salad was actually Dr. Groomy’s favorite, but we decided not to go with it because goat cheese is such an acquired taste—my dad actually said, “I think goat cheese tastes like a barn!” In the end, we decided to go with the Bibb Salad over the Caprese, as the groom doesn’t like tomatoes. The Bibb Salad was absolutely fantastic: the lettuce was light and slightly buttery, the roasted tomatoes were TO DIE FOR and the whole salad was crisp and delicious.
Next, we moved on to the entree selection. The first two entrees we tried were the pasta dishes:
Shrimp Cavattapi: gulf shrimp tossed in a light pesto cream sauce, zucchini squash, and cherry tomatoes
Wild Mushroom Ravioli: ricotta ravioli with wild mushrooms, truffle cream sauce and a parmesan crisp
You’ll have to imagine what they look like, as we were so busy devouring them I forgot to take their picture! Needless to say, when we were done eating, our plates looked like this:
Both of these menu items were so delicious. The Shrimp Cavattapi, with its pesto cream sauce, was one of the lightest dishes I have ever tasted. The pesto was simply perfect. And the Wild Mushroom Ravioli? Heaven on a plate. The mushrooms were beautiful and the truffle cream sauce divine. You would not miss meat in this dish as the mushrooms were perfect: earthy, meaty, and cooked just right.
After the pasta dishes, we moved on to the meat dishes (meat on a Friday during Lent…bad Catholics! Don’t worry, we all made it a point to abstain earlier in the week because we knew would be eating meat at the tasting):
Tuscan Chicken: one-half chicken, crisply roasted in traditional Tuscan style with rosemary and garlic, served with caramelized Brussels sprouts and roasted potatoes
Hanger Steak: marinated and grilled hanger steak, mushroom potato cake, glazed carrots, and red wine-shallot butter sauce
Both of these dishes were delicious as well, but we especially loved the Tuscan Chicken. I am not a big steak eater, so that was not a big priority for me. It was delicious, and the mushroom potato cake was divine, but in the end it was no match for the Tuscan Chicken. The meat on the chicken was so tender and fell right off the bone when we cut it. The flavors were divine and even the Brussels sprouts were delicious. It was definitely not your average dry “wedding” chicken.
After we were done eating, we discussed the logistics of our event: things like how many bars we’ll be having (answer: 3!), tables needed, and the timing of the evening. Then we went back to discussing linens and after asking our venue’s coordinator what would give us the most drama, cohesiveness, and bang for our buck, she suggested a great idea.
First, this is the traditional place setting (photo taken before we started eating).
But, with Maria’s suggestions, we’re going to up the ante a little and have our tables set like this:
Ivory floor length table cloth, with a light gold table runner (we compared to my swatches and the gold is almost an EXACT match with the bridesmaid dresses). Each place setting will have a gold charger with an ivory napkin folded on top of it, and a menu card (designed by me, of course!) tucked inside. Beautiful, no? (Note of clarification: All of the place settings will still have the same silverware and set up as the previous picture, just with the added additions of the chargers and upgraded linens.)
We decided against doing chair covers, for several reasons:
1) They are expensive, and no one really notices them. We figure we’ll get more oomph with less money by opting to upgrade to floor length linens, use a table runner and add chargers to give the place settings some pizzazz instead.
2) Truthfully, I’m not that big a fan of chair covers in the first place…if you have a lot of guests, and thus a lot of chairs, I feel like chair covers can really overwhelm a space.
3) Our venue’s banquet chairs are actually quite decent and fit with our color palette anyways! Behold:
So, what menu choices did we choose? Originally, we didn’t think we would offer a menu choice. We thought, “We’ll just pick one entree, and if there are special dietary requests or needs from our guests, we will work around that on a case-by-case basis.” In the end, though, after discussing it with our parents, we decided…we just couldn’t decide! So we’re offering a menu choice to the guests, so they can pick exactly what the want. Our preliminary menu is:
First Course: Bibb Salad
Entree: Choice of either Shrimp Cavattapi or Tuscan Chicken
We still have to decide on hors d’oeurves for the cocktail hour and make final selections for our children’s menu, but we are so excited about the adult food. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
The reception hasn’t felt real to me, until we had this tasting. Now that I have seen linens and tasted food and drink, I realize that all this is finally happening. My ideas and plans are all coming to life—and they are going to look good together! We are so excited about everything and can hardly wait to celebrate with family and friends.
Did you do a tasting at your venue? How did you choose your menu items?
*All photos in this post by me.