A holiday tasting at the Grandview Yard venue was a delight for the taste buds.
Planning a fall or winter wedding in 2018 or 2019 and still need a venue? Well, if the intimate holiday tasting event held last night at the Grand Event Center is any indication of its large-scale capabilities—and we’re sure it is—then we have a recommendation for you.
Held to showcase the Grand Event Center’s seasonal menu and a number of local vendors, the event impressed us—editor Emma Frankart Henterly and sales rep Kyle Nussbaum—on just about every level. Four craft cocktails from Watershed Distillery accompanied the multicourse, small-plate menu, which also featured macarons from Honeyed Confections. Other vendors included Petals & Leaves, which designed the stunning centerpiece; BBJ Linen, which provided a lovely velvet tablecloth and pretty napkins, as well as the china; and Event Source, which supplied the gorgeous chairs.
The event began with a well-balanced charcuterie and cheese board, accompanied by assorted crackers and breads. The butlered hors d’oeuvre—which was described as a “tomato soup capsule”—was both imaginative and delicious … not to mention gorgeous to look at.
The dinner itself started with a unique salad featuring poached pear, chestnut confit, shaved celery, grated Point Reyes blue cheese and a champagne vinaigrette. It was paired with a twist on the aperol spritz featuring Watershed’s vodka. The spritz was refreshing and tasted a bit like orange Crush, in the best way possible. It carried us through the first two courses of small plates: a duck confit spring roll with black garlic sauce and a bison chili empanada with lime sour cream. Despite jumping between two very different cuisines, both were well-executed. The only thing that kept me from going back for seconds, in fact, was the daunting length of the remaining menu.
It turns out that that was the right move. After devouring two phenomenal espresso-crusted lamb lollipops and a few butternut squash ravioli with sage cream and brown butter, our belts were feeling the strain. (Worth noting is the fact that I can’t stand squash in any form, but I actually loved the ravioli, which had a housemade authenticity and execution that’s hard to match.) Around this time, Watershed served up its second cocktail: its bottled Old Fashioned with a twist of orange. I normally steer clear of pre-mixed drinks, but Watershed’s was perfectly balanced.
Next came so-called “small plates” that could easily stand on their own as entrées, paired with a delicious gin drink. Of the three—a chicken feta Florentine roulade with tomato ragout; a cauliflower “steak” with coconut curry, basmati rice and crispy chickpeas; and seared scallops and lobster with sunchoke puree and saffron vanilla sauce—I think I was most impressed by the vegetarian dish. The chicken and seafood were excellently prepared (the scallop dish featured a perfectly extracted whole lobster claw), but as an avid carnivore, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed an entirely vegetarian plate.
Wrapping up the meal was an assortment of mini macarons; all were delicious, but I ignored the straining button on my pants to grab a second peppermint dark chocolate one. They were paired with a coffee drink featuring Watershed’s signature nocino liqueur, which I had never had and now must buy immediately.
The entire evening was lovely; in addition to the amazing food and drink, I was impressed with the level of service we received. Waitstaff were friendly, gracious and unobtrusive—basically, everything you’d want in service staff at your wedding. In fact, my only complaint for the night was that there was perhaps too much amazing food; the urge to grab seconds or even thirds of the first few courses, which were passed family-style, was almost too powerful to overcome.
We left, full and impressed, with a hint that these tasting dinners—which are reserved for local bloggers and members of the press—may become recurring. We should be so lucky.