A Reason to Celebrate

September 1, 2008



By Lisa Lance

If you’re looking for gourmet dining with a seasonal focus, try Celebrations Restaurant and Bar in historic Cape Girardeau. The award-winning restaurant was started by James and Pat Allen in 1997 and boasts “elegant yet relaxed fine dining.”

Celebrations’ event space, the Studio, seats up to 60 guests. Allen said the atmosphere of the space sets it apart, as it features glass walls and a view of a courtyard with trees and flowers. The Allens also own event space two blocks away in Marquette Tower: the Marquette Restaurant and Bar, which can accommodate 150 people for a sit-down dinner, and the Marquette Terrace, which can seat 60 or accommodate up to 100 for a cocktail reception. The Terrace features views of the Mississippi River, the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge and downtown Cape Girardeau.

The menu changes four times a year and centers on fresh, often local, ingredients. “All of our cooking we do from scratch,” said James Allen. “The majority of what we do, you don’t see other people doing.” The restaurant gets its produce from local growers such as Show Me Farms and Farrar Out Farms. Allen said they also work with smaller fisheries to fly fish in and serve it fresh, the day after it was caught.

All regular menu items are priced a la carte, and entrées range from $17 to $31. In addition to Celebrations and the Marquette facilities, the restaurants provide off-site catering. Each event is different, and gets personalized attention with a specifically tailored menu. Allen said he sits down with each event planner and creates a menu based on their needs and budget, with a set price per attendee. Each group also has the option of choosing from a select menu with group pricing if they prefer.

Allen said they always have items such as steak and chicken on the restaurant menu, but modify the dishes with seasonal ingredients. At press time, the entrées on the Celebrations menu included grilled beef tenderloin filet with herbed oven-roasted potatoes and seasonal vegetables for $31, grilled Broken Arrow Ranch antelope with smoked mashed potatoes, red pepper piperade and sweet corn sauce for $29 and pan-roasted salmon with parmesan grits, creamed spinach and crab and chive cream for $23.

Appetizers such as stuffed mushrooms with herbed cream cheese and seasoned bread crumbs range from $4 to $16; salads including the traditional Caesar with fresh grated parmesan and herbed croutons range from $5.50 to $10; and desserts like raspberry and lemon mousse cheesecake with ginger blueberry compote and almond crumble range from $6.50 to $9.

Celebrations is a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence winner, and the restaurant offers wine and beer tastings several times a year. The events require reservations and are normally a sellout, said Allen, but groups may also schedule private tastings. Each event typically takes about two hours. The first hour involves an educational lecture with a preliminary tasting of a variety of wines in the proper types of glasses. Then they bring out food and let the participants explore complementary pairings, sampling each wine again. When planning these events, a group may specify that they’d like wines from a particular region, such as Italy or Spain, and then the experts at the restaurant will choose several wines to taste.

Allen said they have hosted wedding receptions and rehearsal dinners, political fundraisers and meetings for pharmaceutical companies, as well as events for organizations including Southeast Missouri State University, Southeast Missouri Hospital, Procter & Gamble and St. Francis Medical Center.

Holly Lintner, director of development for the United Way of Southeast Missouri, said her organization holds a media recognition event each year, and for more than 10 years it was held in the Studio at Celebrations. Last year it took place at the Marquette Restaurant and Bar, and this year’s event will be held at the same location. About 25 to 40 people attend each year, and they do a special menu for each event. Lintner said the food is fantastic and the presentation is beautiful. “I’ve always trusted James and Pat and I know they know what they’re doing,” she said.

Tim Arbeiter, vice president of community development for the Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce, worked with the Allens when he planned a statewide conference for Chambers of Commerce executives from throughout the state of Missouri. The event included a sit-down dinner for about 60 people with pre- and post-dinner activities. Arbeiter said they were able to stay on budget and also gave a great dining event.

The Chamber typically hosts four to six events each month and Arbeiter said they try to use different venues. He noted the Allens go the extra mile to meet the needs of each event, whether it’s setting up the room differently for a special situation or providing access to technology. “They provide a no-stress way for us to do events,” he said.

With a combination of fresh, seasonal food, three different facilities to choose from and individualized attention to help each event run smoothly, Celebrations Restaurant and Bar and the Allen’s venues in Marquette Tower have much to offer in Cape Girardeau. MM&E

(Lisa Lance is a contributor from St. Charles, Mo.)

For more information, visit www.celebrations-restaurant.com or call James or Pat Allen, Owners/Proprietors at 573-334-8330.

At a Glance

Type of Facility: Restaurant

Group size this facility is able to accommodate: Up to 150

Number of private dining rooms available: 3

Special Features/Amenities: Tailored to each event. Marquette Terrace features views of the Mississippi River, the Emerson Bridge and downtown Cape Girardeau. The Studio at Celebrations features a view of the courtyard.

Are group rates/discounts available? Yes

Is the facility disabled-accessible? Marquette Terrace and Marquette Restaurant and Bar are disabled-accessible

Price Range: $17-$31

About the author

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