Food & Drink: Theme Party

Wow your guests with the perfect food and drink pairings for spectacular local venues

Just as you wouldn’t wear linen slacks and flip-flops to a black-tie affair, or a ball gown and five-inch stilettos to a relaxed backyard barbecue, you wouldn’t serve messy, difficult-to-eat items like spaghetti and meatballs at a mix-and-mingle wedding reception, or casual (albeit tasty) pulled pork sandwiches at an elegant seated affair. Whether you wed at a rustic ranch or posh resort, your reception menu should mesh with both the style of your event and the atmosphere of your venue. Pimm’s Cup and smoked salmon lollipops? That scenario screams urban cocktail party at a gallery or loft. The whole nine yards, including a top-shelf full bar and duo of lobster and beef? A glitzy golf club sets the scene.

But there’s no need to fret about making a food faux pas at your upcoming event. To make things easier, we picked five fabulous reception themes and tasked area caterers and restaurateurs with imagining innovative and delectable food and drink ideas, all matched with the best local venues.

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Urban Cocktail Lounge

Posh bites and couture cocktails are the ingredients for a memorable evening mixer

Eat Tasty tray-passed morsels served on a skewer, by the spoonful, or in a cocktail glass look cool and are easy to eat. Think soup and ceviche shooters, and meat and veggie satay grilled on site and served with an assortment of chutneys from The Blended Table Catering and Events. Or smoked salmon lollipops, skewered French meringue beet macarons with goat cheese, and martini glasses full of tomato confit with micro basil fennel salad and Parmesan crisps from Culinary Crafts. Comfort food goes high class with Done to Your Taste Catering’s gourmet grilled cheese stations and mashed potato martini bars with all the fixins: herb butter, sour cream, chives, cheese, and bacon.

Drink The Blended Table’s Colour Maisch says instilled beverages such as rosemary-infused vodka and limoncello cocktails are popular, as are traditional drinks like the Manhattan and Pimm’s Cup. And what’s a celebration without a little bubbly? Serve mini bottles of Champagne with festive straws.

Book Culinary Crafts’ new downtown venue, the Tasting Room, has indoor and outdoor spaces for intimate events. Pierpont Place and the Salt Lake Hardware Building offer industrial-chic atmospheres. Salt Lake’s 15th Street Gallery and Park City’s Kimball Art Center and J GO Gallery are smart, sophisticated settings.

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Elegant Downtown Brunch

A sumptuous spread of gorgeous morning munchies

Eat “People love breakfast foods but rarely take the time to prepare them, so brunch is a nice way to indulge,” says Dianne Theurer, director of catering at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. She recommends food stations set up throughout your space to avoid long lines: an omelet buffet station, sweet and savory crepe bar, carvery and hot entrée station with cheese blintzes and potato pancakes, and dessert buffet with strawberry shortcake and fresh-baked pies. Culinary Crafts’ Mary Crafts favors chef action stations cooking up egg salad sandwiches with smoked salmon on grilled polenta bread and French toast bites with Nutella and whipped cream. Done to Your Taste Catering’s eggs benedict sliders and apple-smoked chicken sausage skewers make delicious passed appetizers.

Drink Herbal teas, coffee, and Champagne cocktails are musts. Done to Your Taste uses Utah peaches to make Beehive State Bellinis. For teetotalers, Theurer suggests fresh juices and frappes (fruit, sherbet, spritzer water), and a hot cocoa bar.

Book Fine hotels like The Grand America and Hotel Monaco, and historical venues including the Joseph Smith Memorial Building and McCune Mansion make brunch feel extra fancy.

Harvest Season in the Great Outdoors

An abundant family-style feast paired with local beer, organic vino, and country cocktails

Eat Kick off a bountiful meal with satisfying starters. Rachel Heimer at Brown Brothers Catering suggests hand-passed roasted heirloom tomato and Drake Family Farms’ goat cheese bruschetta, and bamboo cones filled with Bohemian Brewery beer–battered Beehive Cheese curds and a spicy aioli. Serve dinner family-style and let guests rub elbows as they dig into large platters of Done to Your Taste Catering’s cedar plank grilled Utah trout and Cuisine Unlimited’s braised boneless beef short ribs in adobo sauce with sweet potato puree. End the night with French vanilla cake iced with Cuisine Unlimited’s Utah pear and Poire William liqueur buttercream, Done to Your Taste’s caramel apples and root beer float shots, or Brown Brothers’ bacon-maple doughnuts with warm, honeyed milk.

Drink Fill large tin tubs with bottles of local micro brews and hard ciders. For vino, Done To Your Taste recommends organic wines from California’s Bonterra Vineyards. Heimer mixes up Utah blackberry and rosemary Manhattans and Utah peach and mint mojitos served in Mason jars.

Book Heimer and the gals at Done to Your Taste both like High Star Ranch in Kamas, while Cuisine Unlimited’s Maxine Turner loves the Conservation Garden Park in West Jordan.

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Society Party at the Golf Club

An elegant, traditional plated dinner and a full bar

Eat Grand, formal affairs call for multicourse meals with traditional dishes. Begin with butler-passed hors d’oeuvres on the club’s patio or driving range. Then move into the formal dining room and start with a classic salad—at Thanksgiving Point Golf Club that’s an iceberg wedge with blue cheese dressing—
followed by a seafood or meat-and-potatoes entrée. Choose pesto-rubbed wild salmon with tomato and crab risotto and Pernod sauce or rosemary roast rack of lamb and lobster tail with fingerling potato hash at Park Meadows Country Club. Select split lobster tail and Yukon gold mashed potatoes or grilled filet mignon with wild mushroom and bleu cheese
duxelle and vanilla bean bordelaise at Thanksgiving Point.

Drink Big bashes are all about full bars (beer, wine, cocktails, and sparkling wines). Park Meadows’ Eric Karshner advises choosing a selection of three to four wines that pair well with the courses being offered and setting up satellite wine bars in addition to the main bar so guests can easily fill their glasses.

Book Talons Cove Golf Club in Saratoga Springs, Cedar Hills Golf Club near American Fork Canyon, and Entrada at Snow Canyon Country Club in St. George are all available to the public for events.

Intimate Dinner Party

Indulge in a restaurant’s finest for a small wedding
or rehearsal dinner

Eat In downtown Salt Lake City, Sapa’s hand-carved tea houses imported from Vietnam are ideal settings for special meals. The restaurant’s menu includes Vietnamese, Japanese, and Thai favorites like pork crispy rolls, lemongrass chicken, curry shrimp, and coriander seabass, as well as sushi. In Park City, feast on hearty fare such as short rib shepherd’s pie and pan-roasted mountain valley trout at Talisker on Main. Executive Chef John Murcko’s fresh seasonal entrees, including zucchini and summer squash blossoms with golden raisins and saffron couscous, have made this 1920s-style eatery a favorite spot among locals and visitors. After dinner, treat your guests to a chocolate tasting in the restaurant’s wine room.

Drink At Sapa, sip on 22-ounce bottles of Kirin Ichiban beer or cups of cold Snow Maiden sake. At Talisker on Main, let Talisker sommelier Sean Marron select a celebratory sparkler for cheers-ing and the perfect pinot for your shepherd’s pie.

Book Sapa’s three tea houses seat as many as 30, 22, or 14 guests. For larger parties, rent Sapa’s full garden which can accommodate 190. At Talisker on Main, reserve a big table in the main dining room or buy out the entire space—the black-and-white checkerboard floor and tin ceiling set the tone for a swanky supper.

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