Not sure if you’ve heard, but if there's something that gets our hearts thumping, it’s a new venue space. Especially one that is only an hour away. Yep, Orange County just got a really cool new neighbor. Meet The Harper, a unique indoor-outdoor venue set in the heart of Costa Mesa. This venue is worth singing about. Brought to you by Steve Fortunato, the brains behind one of LA’s most popular venues, The Fig House, this exciting new venue project is just as impressive. Steve is the founder and CEO of the Hospitality Collaborative, a family of brands which houses catering companies Room Forty and Pharmacie along with venue spaces The Fig house and now The Harper. Similar to its counterpart The Fig House, designed by famed interior designer Emily Henderson, The Harper also has a star studded lineup of designers, architects and landscapers.
The TVR team headed up from San Diego for the grand opening event along with our media cohosts and our go-to wedding and event site 100 Layer Cake. The minute we walked towards the doors, the team started having some major ohhh and ahhh moments. We were greeted by a modern facade flanked by towering olive trees. Some of our very favorite things.
The secret sauce lies in the fact that this dream team has already owned an operated successful venue space, The Fig House. So… what does this mean for you? It means that the team here isn’t going to nickel and dime you on all of the extras. They totally get how frustrating it is to buy into a venue, to later find out that you have to pay for chairs, tables, decent lighting, furniture and more. It adds up, folks!
At The Harper you will find beautiful brass sconces, chic chandeliers and white quartz countertops in the bathrooms. But the cherry on top is that you get ridiculously pretty in-house tables and chairs for up to 250 guests, security, a bathroom attendant and lounge furniture included in the price! This isn’t any ol’ furniture, either. Interior designer Cliff Fong (principal of Matt Blacke Inc. and Galerie Half) and his stellar team assembled all of the pieces so you are in a sense getting your own interior designer for your wedding.
The art on the walls was even pulled from Portia de Rossi’s art collection. Your art aficionado guests are going to be bowled over by this touch. Nothing spells lovin’ like a venue that has fabulous decor details with awesome stories behind them.
If you are a professional event planner or couple who is getting married, we know that quite a bit is stewing in your proverbial pot by now.
We also know that one thing that can make or break a gathering is the catering team. They are your right hand during the time of the event. A good right hand will know the venue like the back of their own hand. A good team will obviously serve up delish bites, but it goes well beyond just serving up fantastic fare. They know how to navigate a kitchen to serve the food on time (hangry guests avoided). A good team will clean messes up as soon as they happen, they will help move furniture and chairs and remember that Uncle Bob doesn’t like the duck paté appetizer. This brings us back to Steve and his dream team at Room Forty, the preferred onsite caterer and Pharmacie Events Co the in-house bar program.
Both companies offer a from-scratch approach to creating a truly over-the-top dining experience. The goal here is to deliver a full, all-inclusive hospitality experience. If you don’t want to have a hotel ballroom wedding, but want that same level of service, that’s what this team is delivering.
Not only are they a stellar team with the most creatively dreamy food presentations you may every lay eyes on, but they call The Harper home. They basically live there, they know the nooks and crannies and have the whole venue-meets-catering-meets-cocktails combo down to a science. No dinner party faux pas with these pros.
Our lucky Venue Report team got to try out some of the featured fare. You know, the pretty yummy things. It was sophisticated enough to please the fancy folks and fun enough for your free-spirited friends to enjoy.
Some of the seasonal savory dishes included:
Cheese & Charcuterie
Assorted housemade cured mediterranean meats and carpaccio, market vegetable crudite with antipasto and sourdough crostinis. Served with salsa verde, local olive oil and a mustard trio.
Hors D’Oeuvres Activation Station
This was a TVR team favorite. Not because it the kombucha ceviche, rock shrimp and shishito pepper tasted delicious, but because the presentation of the vegetable ash creme friache and red pepper foam is kind of like a mini art show.
Nachos in the Gutter
Another fan favorite. Your friends are going to go gaga for this one. The Room Forty team roams around the event with giant 5 foot brass rain gutter overflowing with the most delectable nachos ever. Housemade chips are topped with liquid cheese, heirloom tomato salsa, pickled jalapeño, crème fraiche, chicken confit and braised pork for the win.
Tray Passed Desserts
The team at Room Forty are dessert wizards. Seriously though, they roll around with this thing called “Room Forty Campfire”. They are these mysterious smoke-filled glass cloches. When the s’mores master takes the glass top off of the plate, a waft of hickory smoke fills your nostrils. As the smoke clears you will the most delectable s’mores made with parfait, graham soil, chocolate coffee ganache and bruleé housemade marshmallows. #YUM.
There is an extra special art piece of art hanging at The Harper. See if you can spot the mule affectionately named ‘Geraldine’ who has become somewhat of a mascot at the venue. Our team took turns snapping photos in front of her as we enjoyed our Geraldine inspired cocktail. Another secret tip is that after you are done drooling over the navy blue interiors of the cozy grooms lounge, you must push the library wall to see if you can find the secret passageway (hello, Hogwarts). It leads directly into the dreamiest light-filled bridal changing room you will ever lay your eyes upon.
With two garden spaces we drank our crafted cocktails with a major shot of scenery. The overall design sense channels the romance of a European countryside accented with slight urban and contemporary features. Our TVR team was getting some major Puglia Italy vibes, as we sat on the charming cafe tables surrounded by mature olive trees and white pebbles dotting the landscape designed by SALT Landscapes Architects. J’adore.
After a night of mingling with Southern California’s event pros screeching with excitement about the newest venue addition to the scene, we couldn’t wait to share this new space with you, our dear readers. There is something so very special about gathering with the local community in a new space that will envelope so many future celebrations and important moments in life. Because beyond the pretty decor and the cool food, that's what this is all about. Coming together to celebrate, to gather, to dine, to drink, to create memories, to laugh, to dance and to cry.
For those of you planning weddings, memorable gatherings, private events, and visual productions, The Harper is waiting with open arms to welcome you for both intimate and grand gatherings. It certainly gets our stamp of approval.