It’s now become far more prevalent for our New Jersey and New York City wedding couples to customize their wedding catering choices with a large selection of food items that their gluten-free and vegetarian guests can enjoy. Brides and grooms have read horror stories on wedding websites, wedding blogs and wedding message boards about weddings at which dietary-restricted guests could only pick on a small number of foods. They certainly don’t want that for their own wedding guests, nor do we. Read more…
wedding menuParty Planning, Rehearsal Dinner, Wedding Cocktail Party, reception planning, wedding dinner party, wedding menu, wedding planning | author: By Mary McGill, Banquet Manager, Ram’s Head Inn
Wedding guests look forward to the dessert hour with great anticipation. Even as they savor your gourmet wedding menu, they’re looking forward to your spectacular wedding cake, decadent dessert buffet, and sweets stations. Great desserts make a fabulous wedding unforgettable, as the last taste of your grand wedding impresses your guests tremendously.
Here are the top trends in wedding desserts to inspire you:
- Individual dessert plates: Each guests receives his or her own plate arranged with a trio or collection of fresh-made desserts, such as a crème brûlée, amaretto cheesecake, flourless chocolate cake and a chocolate dipped berry. Another combination may be chocolate mousse, cheesecake with raspberry sauce, and berries. Read more…
If you think that kids’ menus at weddings consist of just chicken fingers and mini pizzas, think again. Today’s kids actually enjoy more adventurous foods in their everyday lives, so they’re perfectly happy with most of the items on your fine cuisine wedding menu. Perhaps with the exception of the raw seafood bar, and of course with parental supervision over kids’ food allergies. (Which is why we suggest placing food ID cards by each of your cocktail party menu items and carving stations.)
Here are some of the top trends in kids’ wedding menu choices:
- Sushi. Since many parents prefer cooked sushi choices over raw for their kids, arrange with your wedding caterer to provide displays of cooked-item sushi choices.
- Crab cakes, salmon cakes, lobster cakes, cod cakes…in sizes big enough to require two bites, not small balls posing choking hazards for kids.
- Hummus and pita bread
- Pastas with classic or creative sauces
- Sliders, either as burgers or pulled pork, and we’ve seen requests for veggie burger sliders for the kids’ choices as well as the adults.
- Macaroni and cheese is always a hit with kids.
- Mashed potato and mashed sweet potato bars let kids create their own creamy ‘sundaes’ with their choices of toppings.
- Chicken tenders with a trio of kid-friendly sauces.
- French fries cut in spiral styles or with unique flavors.
- Mini pizzas topped with a variety of combinations, from four-cheese to vegetables to tiny bits of sausage.
- Crudites and cooked vegetables served with fun flair at cocktail party stations.
- Fruits cut into kid-friendly shapes, such as smiles, stars, and cartoon characters. Read more…
Winter wedding catering focuses on seasonal foods in warm, creamy, comforting textures and rich flavors that turn your wedding reception into a fulfilling feast. Here are some of the top trends in winter wedding catering: Read more…
When budget wedding guides say to ‘cut out the carving station’ as a way to save money, they’re talking about weddings that are planned in non-bridal locations, and self-catered. At an upscale wedding reception venue, carving stations are included in the entire wedding catering package. So you can very well include a carving station, or two, in your cocktail party plan. Read more…
While some wedding couples are planning ‘green weddings,’ a great many of our New Jersey wedding couples are focusing on their wedding menu’s green salads. In one of the freshest wedding catering trends, a new focus lands on the salad course, with couples requesting gourmet mixes of greens, vegetables, nuts and cheeses. The salad course is no longer an afterthought as couples design their menus. Brides and grooms who come to the The Manor are just as interested in creating unique salad courses as they are in designing their cocktail party menus, their sit-down dinners and their dessert hour menus.
The salad course has long been designated as a refreshing ‘palate-cleanser,’ giving guests a delightful plate of fresh, organic salad greens, crisp raw vegetables and vinaigrette after they’ve enjoyed heavier, perhaps creamy or cheese-based appetizers at the cocktail hour. In past years, at many wedding venues, salads were comprised of simple, basic iceberg or Romaine lettuce with a slice of tomato and several cucumber rounds, topped with vinegar and oil, or a classic Caesar salad. Now, the gourmet trend in wedding catering is to choose more adventurous, more unique salad elements, creating layers of more sophisticated flavors.
In short, the salad course has emerged as a new spotlight feature of the wedding menu. Wedding dining will never be the same again.
Here are some of the top trends in creating an ‘inspired salad course’ to create a more elegant dining experience:
- Add color to your greens. A plate of freshly-picked mesclun greens creates a foundation of light and dark green colors on which your topping elements rest. A tri-color salad of arugula, endive and radicchio blends pale and dark greens with the bright reds of the radicchio for a colorful presentation and both sweet and bitter greens blending in a dish with flavor depth.
- Add sweetness to your salads. Here at the The Manor in West Orange, one of our most-requested salads is an arugula salad with red onion, mandarin orange and sliced almonds, with the sweetness of the orange adding a burst of flavor in each bite. Sweetness may also come through the dressing, such as a berry vinaigrette, or cubed mango, apple and other sweet fruit toppings.
- Add crunch to your salads. The top trends in crunchy gourmet salads include croutons, almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and pine nuts, among other nuts.
- Add unique vegetables to your salads. New Jersey tomatoes are often a Must in a fine garden salad, but the new trends in crunchy garden salad bites include beets, cauliflower, asparagus, and snap peas. Mushrooms have burst upon the salad scene as another top trend in toppings.
- Add seafood to your salads. A tiny cluster of fresh lobster meat or crab placed on top of a salad is a new secret ingredient to elevate the salad into a gourmet course.
- Add cheeses to your salads. Guests appreciate the attention to detail when a server offers to shave fresh Romano cheese over their salads, and slices of fresh mozzarella, parmesan or crumbles of feta or goat cheese add the perfect topping and taste to a salad.
- Get creative with vinaigrettes. Our salad dressings include red wine vinaigrettes, raspberry vinaigrettes, and balsamic vinaigrettes. The trend in salad courses is to lighten up the dressing calorically, skipping heavier, creamy dressings in favor of lighter, fresher, fruity vinaigrettes.
Your wedding makes a fabulous first impression when guests are approached by smiling, white-gloved waiters presenting them with spectacular hors d’oeuvres on silver platters. As sensational as it is to welcome guests in VIP-manner, the true measure of a successful wedding cocktail party is the variety and pleasing gourmet tastes of hand-passed hors d’oeuvres.
Here at the Pleasantdale Chateau in West Orange, as well as at our sister wedding venues the The Manor, the Highlawn Pavilion and the Ram’s Head Inn (the latter located in Galloway, New Jersey), we finesse our cocktail party fare to include the top appetizer menu trends originating from the world’s best regional and cultural fare, organic and imported food trends, and our own chefs’ sophisticated palates and advice on which tastes pair perfectly with others. Any fan of Top Chef knows that dishes need to coordinate, to pair well with one another, to make sense in a presentation. Our New Jersey wedding couples come to us with impressive culinary wishes and experience, and we hear equally from bride and groom about their preferences for their wedding cocktail party hors d’doeuvres list.
Here are the top wedding hors d’oeuvre trends for your wedding’s sensational start:
Hot Hors D’oeuvres
- Offer five or six hot hors d’oeuvres at the cocktail party, no matter the season.
- Offer exotic flavors such as Moroccan chopped chicken salad on garlic toast and Thai curry samosas with tamarind dip.
- Offer unique twists on meat appetizers, such as hangar steak on brioche crouton with a shallot marmalade or an andouille sausage en croute.
- Offer unique twists on non-meat choices such as fontina cheese, asparagus tips and mushroom Panini.
- Include gourmet cheese options such as hors d’oeuvres made with Camembert, Fontina, and Brie, since wedding guests adore palate-pleasing bites of tasty cheeses they might not buy for their own meals and parties.
- Seafood appetizers are a top trend, including wedding classics such as Maryland crab cake, scallop Rockefeller and sautéed shrimp – again, crowd-pleasers to guests who may not prepare gourmet seafoods for themselves.
- Risotto dishes are also a top trend right now, with lobster risotto requested often by our New Jersey wedding couples.
Cold Hors D’oeuvres
- Offer tasty cold bites served on ceramic spoons, such as our red snapper ceviche with pink grapefruit and cilantro.
- Offer creative seafood salad spoonfuls or toast-toppings, such as a crab salad with apple and chive.
- Tartlets are easy-to-enjoy appetizers, with guests enjoying cheese flavors such as our artichoke, goat cheese and black olive tartlet.
- Hand rolls and vegetable sushi hors d’oeuvres please guests who enjoy fresh and healthy appetizers, and the trend is for unique twists on hand rolls – such as our smoked salmon and avocado cream cheese hand roll.
- Gourmet meats such as tuna tartars and beef Carpaccio give guests an upscale raw appetizer to enjoy (and again calls to the dishes our New Jersey couples see prepared on Top Chef.)
- Pair your hot and cold hors d’oeuvres with gourmet dipping sauces, such as creamy ginger sauce or mango dipping sauce.
- Make it easy for guests to help themselves to appetizers, offering them on ceramic spoons or with appetizer spears or picks.
- Choose colorful dishes, such as those topped with bright green herbs or dots of sauces.
- Have wait staff offer cocktail napkins printed with your married initial monogram as a fine, personal touch to your cocktail party menu presentation.
Chef Robert Albers, Executive Chef, Pleasantdale Chateau
When a wedding celebration lasts long into the late-night hours, our recent New Jersey brides and grooms love to serve their guests an unexpected additional wave of wedding menu items during the last hour of their reception. In the past year, the trend of ‘late-night bites’ has increased dramatically, as a growing number of New Jersey, New York Metropolitan and Long Island brides and grooms experience post-midnight food service at company parties, fundraising galas, and even university formals. Further inspired by shows like Top Chef and upscale wedding reality shows, local brides speak to our illustrious banquet managers and chefs about creating a gourmet, late-night menu that’s served in style.
Here are the top two categories of late-night wedding menu features, as well as some of the foods most often requested by our local tri-state area wedding couples:
Late-Night Snack Bites:
- Hamburger and cheeseburger sliders, with gourmet toppings such as artisan cheeses or marinated onions and peppers
- French fries and onion rings, dusted with gourmet spices and served in ceramic bowls or fair-inspired paper cones
- Mini pizzas, again given the gourmet treatment such as spiced sausage topping and five types of cheeses on top
- Empanadas filled with pork, beef or chicken
- Tacos filled with pork, beef, chicken, beans, fish and rice or vegetables, with gourmet salsa
- Soft pretzels, served with gourmet dipping mustards
- Funnel cakes or zeppole, a New Jersey-favorite snack bite, especially when made with a flavored sugar sprinkling.
For brides and grooms who wish to end their receptions with sweets rather than snack bites, we offer you the top trends in surprise second dessert offerings:
- A second slice of wedding cake, which many of our New Jersey wedding guests say is their top wedding wish…one slice is just not enough.
- The groom’s cake may be presented at this time, as a twist to the tradition presentation alongside the wedding cake, designed in a theme, shape and flavors of the groom’s choosing.
- Chocolate-covered strawberries, bananas, raspberries, cantaloupe and pineapple half-moons, pound cake squares and other dessert tastes, already dipped in a variety of chocolate sauces and paired with fresh whipped cream and berry sauces.
- Tiramisu squares, for a touch of alcohol-tinged sweetness and perhaps the bride and groom’s favorite dessert incorporated into their wedding menu.
- A gelato bar, also a favorite of our New Jersey brides and grooms who wish for a different, richer taste at the end of their wedding reception, with their favorite flavors featured.
- Cake pops and cupcakes are also top trends in wedding menu desserts that our pastry chefs have arranged for our wedding receptions, with a wide variety in classic, creative and even cocktail-inspired flavors.
The key to these late-night wedding menus is formal, detailed presentations, with each slider plated with great care, chocolate-covered berries arranged in artistic designs, dipping sauces presented in modern ceramic bowls, and more. Even with so-called ‘bar food’ bites, we elevate each wedding menu option to its most attractive and most impressive presentation, all to impress your guests and make your night unforgettable from the first to the very last bite.
Michael Mahle, Director of Communications, Pleasantdale Château
A wedding’s cocktail party stations allow the bride and groom to showcase a generous variety of their favorite gourmet cuisines, from European cuisine to Asian cuisine, Italian gourmet cuisine, new American cuisine, Middle Eastern cuisine, and more. As our culture grows more interested in the culinary arts, and as our New Jersey wedding clients come to us with truly thrilling ideas and requests for eclectic, elegant dining paired with fine wines and elite vintage champagnes, we at the Pleasantdale Chateau – as well as at our sister wedding venues The The Manor, The Highlawn Pavilion and theRam’s Head Inn – relish the chance to co-create a stunning lineup of the top trends in cocktail party station fare.
Our chef Robert Albers has created an extensive menu of delicious dishes within the new trends in station themes, and our brides and grooms choose from among them to customize their event’s culinary experience. Here are the top trends in cocktail party stations to consider for your wedding menu:
- The Fresh Garden Crudités Station – During the past few years, wedding guests have grown increasingly fond of the fresh, crisp vegetable platter, opting for organic, healthier treats within the collection of cocktail party menu options. A crudités station offers elaborately-presented pieces of broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, red and yellow bell pepper, carrot sticks, celery stalks, zucchini sticks, sun-dried tomatoes and a creamy Parmesan dipping sauce.
- Fresh Fruits and Berries Station – Also a popular choice among wedding guests, as well as brides and grooms planning green weddings here in New Jersey, this station features an array of fresh, sliced seasonal fruits and berries such as golden pineapple, watermelon, honeydew melon, cantaloupe, seedless red grapes and strawberries. Guests who must eat in a healthy manner now find themselves delighted at a wedding, not frustrated by an array of fried options.
- Imported and Domestic Cheese Station – In the world of wedding cuisine – as well as gourmet dining influenced by European cuisine as well as the tastes of our domestic heartland and New Jersey farms’ fresh offerings – cheeses are the new It food on wedding menus. If a couple doesn’t have a cheese station planned, they ask for a cheese course within their reception menu. Some of the most popular cheeses featured on our cheese station include aged Gouda, Coupole goat cheese, herbed Swiss, Vermont white cheddar, Brie, Camembert, Farme D’Ambert and Gourmandises, served with seeded flatbreads and chutney.
- Normandy Display Station – A Normandy display station brings a variety of international cuisine to a wedding menu, offering hummus, baba ghanoush and cucumber yogurt dip, charcuterie platter of sliced ham and dried sausages, pencil asparagus with hearts of palm, toasted Israeli couscous with golden raisins and pine nuts, and more. Our wedding couples from Morris County, Passaic County, Somerset County, Hudson County and surrounding regions of New Jersey and Metropolitan New York City have dined in some of the finest restaurants in the world, and they’re quite particular about offering some of the finest cuisines from around the world.
- In a cocktail party menu trend that surprises some wedding couples, fondue is back as a hot trend, with the fondue style being a cheese and ale-based fondue, served with vegetables and apples, spicy sausages and assorted breads.
- Even with a meat-based entrée planned for the reception menu, our brides and grooms often wish to include a carving station. The top trends in carving stations right now include unique types of meats, looking beyond the classic prime rib or pork loin to sushi grade ahi tuna, apple and ancho braised brisket of beef and more. When guests are treated to a unique cocktail party station menu item, they’re all the more impressed with your lavish gourmet wedding celebration.
- Seafood stations remain at the top of brides’ and grooms’ wishlists, with chilled oysters on the half shell, jumbo Gulf shrimp, snow crab claws and other iced seafoods presented to guests.
- Chafing dish menu items give wedding couples their choice of several gourmet cuisine items such as mussels, clams and shrimp in garlic and white wine over orzo, Osso Bucco, eggplant stuffed with ricotta, plum tomatoes and garlic sauce, country escargot with garlic and leeks, and an array of regional specialties, exotic dishes, cocktail party menu items chosen to please kosher menu requirements as well as vegan and other dietary requirements.
- The pasta station’s newest trend in the gourmet sauce our chefs prepare to make it stand out. Our New Jersey home to weddings specializes in Italian gourmet cuisine, and as such our chef’s pasta station sauces include classics like vodka sauce and pomodoro sauce, plus gourmet twists such as Italian sausage and pesto sauce, marscapone cheese and garlic cream, brandy mushroom sauce, seafood sauces, and the creamy, cheese top trend of wild mushroom and sage risotto, or Louisiana crawfish risotto, and more.
- A favorite station among our foodie wedding couples is the Asian station, including a sushi bar where attendants make hand rolls to order, or where guests can feast on chicken teriyaki dumplings or moo shoo duck hand rolls – again, unique dishes that guests may not order for their own dinners on the average visit to a local Asian restaurant.
- Additional cocktail party stations include: smoked fish displays including smoked salmon, gravlox, pastrami cured salmon and smoked trout and more; and a caviar station with several different top-grade caviars, blini, toast points and garnishes.
The cocktail party menu begins the celebration in fine style and with gourmet taste, delivering a new trend seen at weddings – people taking pictures of the cocktail party stations and hitting send to share the beauty and sumptuousness with their networks of friends and family far away. In our digital age, that’s quite a high compliment, among the many you’ll receive for your cocktail party menu collection.
Michael Mahle, Director of Communications, Pleasantdale Château
To make an appointment with a sales manager, please contact us at 973-731-5600.