by Tara Nurin - 221 Reviews - 105 List
Just as with real estate, the foundation to an exquisite private party is location, location, location. The site where you choose to host your fabulous affair forms the basis for most of the party's components: ambiance, dress, drink selection, quality of the catering, ease of arrival, etc? Of course, as one of the nation's pre-eminent cities, Philadelphia has no shortage of spaces (including The Academy of Music, left) for group functions. Here are some diverse options to help you get this party started right. The guest list is up to you.
Updated: December 08, 2009
With an impeccable reputation, a sleek function room that directs guests through the dining room and a second-floor lounge that overlooks the bar area, this Georges Perrier Italian steakhouse could easily impress guests who might wish to ensure that as many people see them here as possible. However, if the hosts are planning a more private affair, an entire banquet room is available for rental for weddings, conferences and the like. The catered food and drinks would come directly from the restaurant's pedigreed kitchen, and the private entrance could help keep the paparazzi at bay.
Although Peter Woolsey's pocket salon just off the main dining room was built for the notion of receiving patrons for his humungous family-style French family dinners, he's always happy when he can book it--and the adjoining flora-filled courtyard--for a private party of up to 50, when both spaces are used. Order one of those traditional family dinners for your party (three levels of meal are offered), and chances the centerpiece 17-foot farmhouse table will be so laden with foie gras, fromage and mousse that you won't even think to ooh and ah over the mighty table that was carved out of 130-year-old beams from the building that houses the restaurant.
The space behind these heavy wooden doors has been called by so many names over the years that a current reference to this prominently located facility sometimes registers nothing beyond a confused stare. These days, the historic former Rittenhouse residence is serving its time as a private club and a mansion at the ready to be rented for colossal private functions. With three floors, six rooms and five bars, it can now house parties with any number of different configurations and moods. Rent one room or the whole she-bang... just have the names of the last five businesses on the tip of your tongue to respond decisively when your perplexed friends ask, ?Where?"
While the Kimmel Center is considered one of the city's grand dames when it comes to hosting dazzlingly expensive events in any of its theaters or gathering spaces, hostesses with Baroque tastes choose to book the neighboring Academy of Music ballroom when they call the Kimmel Center's function staff. Gilded walls, glimmering chandeliers and an aura of 17th century opulence add grace to events held at this former opera house, now reopened for private events after a hiatus.
This pretty dining room that's accented with marble floors and gauzy curtains can be sectioned off into two different rooms for a multi-course Indian sit-down feast or a cocktail party with passed hors d?oevres. Perhaps the most Twitter-worthy option, however, is to rent the bar area, which, given its location outside the main restaurant, would pass as an outdoor cafe if it weren't in the lobby of an apartment building. From this position, guests can mingle with each other while they order international wines directly from the bartender or relax on the cafe-style furniture, or they can catcall to the apartment residents checking their mail--not that the demure South Asian owners of the restaurant would appreciate that.