Finding a good restaurant to take a date or meet a group of friends or plan a corporate dinner might be easy enough, but it's another challenge entirely when you're looking for a venue to accommodate a massive crowd. Especially if you want to do it the economical way -- which usually means contracting out an event space that provides the food, booze and staff -- but you want more atmosphere than a hotel banquet space and better dishes than a run-of-the-mill catering menu allows.
Enter Kevin Taylor's at the Opera House, 1106 14th Street.
We joined a crowd of 250 in the subterranean space for a wedding this weekend, and though the food may not have been something we'd write home about in a regular restaurant setting, it was head and shoulders above most of the food we've had at an event space that requires you to use its kitchen.
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Our salad was tart and crisp, dressed with a champagne vinaigrette and garnished with freshly-shaved Grana Padano cheese. And though the salmon was slightly overcooked, we were willing to forgive it since the chicken was perfect: supple, moist and tender -- and particularly impressive given that 250 portions were served all at once by a well-coordinated staff. Those meats were plated alongside a rich, savory potato galette, a stack of thin slices of potato layered with cream. Simple, but deeply satisfying.
The cavernous Chambers Grant Salon, which hugs doors that lead into the Buell Theatre, is beautiful, too, with stone-lined walls replete with colorful artwork and historic costumes above wooden floors and beneath a romantic lighting scheme -- no easy feat in such a sizable space.
And the fact that the staff was adept in its ability to deliver 250 dishes in a timely enough manner over a couple of courses is a testament to the venue's professionalism in handling events.
We'd go back for a party, branching out into the stout-braised short ribs or seared diver scallops if we were constructing the menu.