SITE: CARNEROS BISTRO & WINE BAR AT THE LODGE AT SONOMA
ADDRESS: 1325 Broadway, Sonoma, CA 95476
WEB SITE: www.carnerosbistro.com
VISUALS & VIBE: The restaurant takes advantage of its wine country surroundings by featuring an all-Sonoma County wine list, focusing on wine tasting and using seasonal local produce and products. Flanked by an aromatic herb garden, the off-white rustic building provides a view of the surrounding vineyards through large shuttered French windows.
EVENT AREAS: The cozy Fire Pit Patio accommodates 45 guests, keeping them warm with both a central fireplace and heaters. The intimate Vintage Room offers space for 14 people dining at a long wooden table; a private garden patio is available as well. The Herb Garden Patio is an outdoor patio next to the chef's garden with space for 12 people. For those not interested in al fresco dining, the main restaurant has a 180-person capacity and is available for buyouts.
WINE AND DINE: One signature offering at Carneros is the “Three Bites” appetizer sampler, consisting of three small preparations. For example, one event showcased Dungeness crab salad with ginger and blood orange, roasted beets with Sonoma goat cheese, and roasted mushroom tartlette with Pinot Noir-black olive sauce. Beverages paired with these dishes were champagne, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.
SIDE DISH: In addition to consuming the food and wines of Sonoma County — including fresh herbs from the resort's garden, artisan meats and cheeses, and organic produce — small groups might participate in theme dinners devised around a specific wine and its complementary fare, educational menus or an “Iron Chef” team-building exercise involving two teams required to whip up dishes from a mystery basket of ingredients in a set amount of time.
SITE: OAK STEAKHOUSE
ADDRESS: 17 Broad St., Charleston, SC 29401
WEB SITE: www.oaksteakhouserestaurant.com
VISUALS & VIBE: Located in downtown Charleston, S.C., near the historic Charleston Battery where the first shots of the Civil War were fired on Fort Sumter, the 150-year-old building's former life as the South Carolina Loan and Trust Bank Building makes for unique restaurant features. An old bank vault discovered during renovation now serves as a wine cellar. With century-old exposed brick walls, 22-foot-high ceilings, renovated fireplaces and the original pocket doors from the 1840s, diners are immersed in the old building's authentic historic ambiance.
EVENT AREAS: Three floors and five dining rooms make up the event areas of the Oak Steakhouse. The first floor and bar hold 32 people in the comfort of cozy chocolate-colored banquettes. On the mezzanine, diners enjoy a view of the downstairs entrance and bar; the semiprivate event space accommodates 28 guests. The third floor features three dining rooms with modern chandeliers, intricate one-of-a-kind “wine lockers” and fireplaces. The entire building is available for private events accommodating approximately 150 people.
WINE AND DINE: Classic steakhouse fare is united with Italian and Southern influences in dishes such as sauteed local flounder with butter-poached lobster risotto, braised leeks and roasted chanterelle mushrooms, and wedge of iceberg lettuce salad with creamy Gorgonzola dressing and crispy pancetta. Bacardi rum, club soda, lime juice, pineapple juice and fresh mint make up the Cuban mojito.
SIDE DISH: Site of dinners for both the American Cancer Society and the Charleston Food and Wine Festival, Oak Steakhouse has unique attributes, including private wine lockers. Upstairs, the front dining room with its view of Broad Street is a popular choice for rehearsal dinners and business functions. More-boisterous groups may enjoy the mezzanine's semiprivate event space, which looks down on the high-action first floor.
ADDRESS: 26 Little W. 12th St., New York, NY 10014
WEB SITE: www.stkhouse.com
VISUALS & VIBE: In conceiving the look of this two-month-old modern steakhouse, the design studio Icrave wanted to break away from the traditional look of such restaurants and so used more modern, less masculine elements in its decor. For example, in lieu of a conventional fireplace, a 10-foot-tall lavender-glass fireplace keeps guests warm. Other carefully chosen decor elements include exotic woods, smoky glass walls, leather banquettes, crocodile-textured tiles and purple hues.
EVENT AREAS: Three floors of event space, plus a soon-to-open rooftop, make up the event space at STK. Both the main dining room and third-floor banquet hall accommodate 200 guests. Private dining rooms on the second floor have naughty names from famous burlesque stars, such as the Tempest Storm and the Do May, with seating ranging from 20 to 60 people. Additionally, the 3,000-square-foot nightclub Tenjune is downstairs.
WINE AND DINE: The obvious menu item is steak, from naturally raised cows, available in small, medium and large sizes with sides such as Parmesan truffle fries. Not-so-obvious menu items at an event might include skewers of scallops, bacon and caramelized grapes, skate with ponzu and shiitake brown butter, and caramel popcorn balls.
SIDE DISH: The new restaurant has already played host to high-profile clients such as Goldman Sachs, the New York Rangers, Moet Hennessey and Credit Suisse. A little bit of Hollywood glamour was recently seen on the main floor; scenes were filmed for the upcoming movie “A Girl in The Park,” with Sigourney Weaver and Kate Bosworth.