If there is one thing that is clear in my relationship with Terry, it’s that we love to eat! Our first date consisted of a four-hour long, 10 course meal at Pazo . Text messages exchanged during the day while at work typically involve who is going to grab what on the way home for dinner. Our Friday nights consist of weekly trips to the seafood counter at Safeway to pick up either shrimp, lobster tails, tuna, or salmon … then we head home, cook up a feast and relax with a bottle of wine. On Sunday nights, we normally cook up another big feast and have friends over for “family” dinner. It’s one thing that I love about our relationship … we both love to cook and eat (and thankfully both enjoy running and exercising off all the food we eat!).
That being said, you can imagine how excited we were about our search for the perfect caterer for our wedding! Our venue made it slightly easier on us, in that they have a select list of about six or seven caterers, one of which we must use for our wedding. I started at the top of the list, and did my typical wedding Google research. I read wedding reviews, checked out each caterer’s website, looked at sample menus, and finally … pricing. Some caterers have sample pricing listed on their websites, while others offered no information, leaving me a bit worried about what the bill would cost. I emailed each caterer, explaining the location of our wedding, size, type of menu we were going for, etc. They each got back to me with sample menus, some pricing information, and most importantly … the willingness to schedule an appointment so that they could wine us and dine us!
We started with Linwoods Catering. I had heard wonderful things about their food, and actually know the woman who runs the wedding catering part of the restaurant. She had Terry and I meet her at Linwoods one night after work, which turned out to be a very nice, elegant restaurant (which I never knew). We started with a caramelized onion and veggie pizza, which was delicious. Then we ordered dinner … I had the sea bass, and Terry had lobster stuffed ravioli. To say the food was amazing is an understatement. It was unbelieveable. Definitely one of the top five meals I’ve ever had in my life (Yes, I have a top five meal list.) After dinner came the money talk. We went over sample menus, pricing, etc. Linwoods prices things out a little differently than I expected. They charge per staff member needed at the reception PLUS per guest. There was a list of items they charge upfront before even getting to the food pricing. We went home, did the math and determined that although the food was incredible, it was just too far out of our price range. I highly recommend Linwoods to any bride and groom who have a higher budget for food (or for their wedding in general). I’m am confident in saying that you will not be disappointed with their food!
Our next caterer appointment was with The Classic Catering People. I get the picture that they are a bigger wedding catering company, and we were assigned our “wedding consultant,” who met with us over lunch to discuss our needs and wants for our wedding. We had a nice arugula salad, followed by a plate of assorted appetizers/hors d’oeuvres, a classic Maryland crabcake as our main course, then a plate of assorted desserts to finish up the meal. Their food was great, although didn’t come close to the meal we had at Linwoods. Our wedding consultant was very nice, went over everything with us in detail, and offered plenty of time for me to whip out my wedding planning folder and ask my many, many questions. The Classic Catering People were more of a “one-stop shop” when it comes to wedding catering, which I definitely liked. Instead of chagrining per staff member required for our wedding, they only charged by plate, then had a few additional charges (as most caterers do) for renting an oven at the venue, delivery, set-up and breakdown. Their prices were much more reasonable, but their food was mediocre. We just weren’t WOW’ed.
And so the search continued …
A couple caterers I emailed, who will remain nameless, replied with somewhat of a discouraging and brash email. They gave us their basic price range for their wedding catering services ($115/person-$150/person), and basically told us that if that is in our price range, then they could meet with us. I was a bit turned off at their unwillingness to even talk to us or consider what we are looking for in a wedding caterer. After their unwelcoming email, I quickly moved onto the next …
The third caterer we met with was Zeffert & Gold. We had heard good things about them from a couple of recently married friends who had used them. I spoke with them multiple times on the phone, exchanged several emails and reviewed a TON of sample menus (seriously, they have so much to choose from!) before finally deciding on a time to meet and taste their food. We met with Iris, who was absolutely delightful and such a pleasure to talk weddings with. I felt like we really hit it off with her from the get go. She has been in the business for several years, has won tons of wedding catering awards, and really knows the industry. She was a great source of information, not only with regard to food, but to wedding planning in general. She gave us plenty of advice, recommendations, and suggestions which was much appreciated, as we were still in the early stages of our planning when we met with her. Aside from how helpful and knowledgeable Iris was, the food was delicious. We started with a plate of assorted hors d’oeuvres, followed up by a light summery salad with goat cheese (my fav!) and a citrus balsamic dressing. For our main course, we had skirt steak with a chimichurri sauce, rockfish over risotto, and grilled asparagus. I felt like we could have sat there for hours with Iris (in fact, I think we may have), and I left Zeffert & Gold feeling like we had found our wedding caterer!
The last caterer on the Evergreen’s required caterer list was Watson Caterers. I did my typical vendor review research before emailing Tracy at Watson to set up an appointment. To be honest, I wasn’t super excited about our meeting with Tracy, as I had such a great feeling after meeting with Zeffert & Gold and felt like we had already found our wedding caterer. Watson’s was the last on the list though, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to go for one more tasting (we do love food afterall) before making the final decision on our caterer. Terry and I met with Tracy on a Friday night after work for a delicious dinner. As with all the other caterers we started with an assortment of hors d’oeuvres including lumps of crab served over small pastry shells, portobella mushroom quesadillas with gouda cheese and caramelized onion (to die for), seared tuna served on a rice cracker with wasabi mayonnaise, cucumber canapé, and finally lobster with mango and basil served on a skewer. Everything was amazing! Our salad course consisted of mixed field greens with mandarin orange slices, grape tomatoes, local goat cheese and an orange vinaigrette. I am typically not a salad person, and can honestly say that this salad was incredible. We were gearing up for the main course … and judging by the quality of the food so far, we knew it was going to be amzing. Our main course was an Argentina skirt steak with a chimichurri sauce, rockfish with tomatoes and capers in a light white wine sauce, grilled asparagus and orzo with fresh parsley (extremely similar menu to what we had the Z&G). The food was absolutely wonderful. We left our meal blown away (and so full!).
We had narrowed it down … Zeffert & Gold or Watson?
The next couple weeks consisted of a ton of negotiating and tweaking of menus. Terry and I are lawyers, so negotiating is a way of life for us. It’s what we were trained to do 🙂 Emails went back and forth between Z&G and Watson … revised menus were exchanged … offers were made. We laid it all out on the table, weighing the pros and cons of each vendor before Watson threw us a gamechanger, offering us an incredibly reasonably priced deal, well-under our catering budget … so good that we just couldn’t pass it up. We signed the contract, sent in our deposit, and it was official … Watson was our wedding caterer! I am so excited to have them on our “team” and am extremely confident that they will do an outstanding job on June 1st.
Hors d’oeuvres, salads, small plates, main courses, desserts … yikes. After all the delicious meals I had over the course of deciding on a wedding caterer, how would I ever fit into my wedding dress? Stay tuned next month when I talk about the most amazing part of my wedding planning … SAYING YES TO THE DRESS! –Molly Eagen