So, if all goes right and the gods of football are kind to us (and it seems that they will be), we're going with venue #3. The price is right, mostly (more on that in a minute), we like the coordinator, we like the room, our guests can stay at the hotel, and it's local to us.
Mr. T, the MOH, and I went to the venue on Saturday for a tasting. I apologize that I don't have photos of the food. I brought the camera, but I felt awkward taking any photos. It was a unique situation to be presented with food and then have two people (the chef and the catering coordinator) stare at us while we ate it. The assistant catering coordinator, Daniel, even wrote down what we said after we tasted stuff. It was really odd.
As a reminder, we have to use the hotel's caterer if we have our wedding there. It's one of the reasons that we can afford the venue fee. So, we had our fingers crossed that the tasting would go well, and mostly it didn't disappoint.
We started with appetizers: a spring roll and a coconut crusted prawn with chile sauce. They were both tasty but I thought having two fried options would be odd, greasy, and heavy. So we're keeping the prawn and looking for another option for a passed appetizer. We'd also have a cheese station set up at a table. Since I doubt I'll get many of the appetizers, I don't really care if I can't eat them all, so cheese is fine with me!
We then tried a salad with mixed greens, persimmons, dried cranberries, nuts, and a blood orange dressing. This was super yummy and the dressing was not too vinegar-y (I mostly don't like salad dressings because all you can taste is vinegar). We approved that one right away.
For the sides, we tried a broccolini. This was yummy but I wondered if it would get wilty on the buffet. We opted to have some broccolini but also some roasted root veggies (beets, squash, potatoes, yams, etc.).
For the starches, we had a butternut squash, which was yummy but ruled out immediately because we're going to have it with the veggies, and we tried a saffron rice, which was just okay.
And finally, the entrees. So, I had requested a pork dish for Mr. T, salmon for me, and a VEGAN dish for our veggie friends, and also so I could eat it. We started with the "vegan" butternut squash ravioli in olive oil with sage. It tasted really delicious, but the ravioli were already hard from sitting out, and they hadn't been waiting that long. Daniel said these typically fare better with some type of cream sauce. Then he broke the news that the ravioli can't be vegan anyway, because there's egg in the pasta. Then, much later, it came out that the ravioli had some cheese in them!! I took a lactaid pill right away, but my stomach still hurt a bit later. Um, hello, how not-vegan could this dish get? So, we're back to the drawing board on that. The chef suggested polenta cakes with a veggie ragout, or a lentil/veggie kind of stew. We haven't decided what would be good yet. Clearly vegan is not this chef's forte, but hopefully we can work something out.
The other entrees went much better--the salmon had a delicious salsa on top, and the pork kicked ass, with a green apple/brandy sauce. That was our favorite thing at the tasting by far.
After the tasting we looked the room over again and Mr. T declared that he liked it even more the second viewing. Daniel seemed disinclined for us to have our ceremony and our reception there b/c of the awkwardness of chivvying our guests out of their seats to clear the reception space. I told him our guests would have to deal, and be thankful we weren't asking them to move the chairs themselves! Really, I think our friends will be low-key about it. Daniel also told us that the chairs they have in-house suck, so we'd be looking at an additional $400 for chair rentals, plus $300 for sound equipment rentals! Lots of little hidden costs started popping up...I guess on the initial visit they just want you to like it, and then they spring the fees on you slowly. We still haven't heard about the budget for our buffet, so I'm waiting to hear back on that one. Cross your fingers for us!!
Daniel also advised against having the bridal/groom party sit at a head table. He told us they had one at his wedding and discovered everyone stares at you while you're eating and it's uncomfortable. I thought that was hilarious. I rather liked him.
After the tasting (which we had to walk to because there was a football game that day, and hence, no parking) we decided we wanted something sweet and walked to a local gelato shop. Mmmmgelato. We talked about our photo-taking options, since the hotel doesn't have a ton. Daniel recommended Faculty Glade on the Cal Campus. I figured we'd end up on campus, since it's right there and very scenic, and also my alma-mater.
So, things are looking good that we'll sign a contract on the venue soon, fingers crossed. And then most of the hard stuff will be done!