Thursday, February 7, 2008

Guest Post by Ayngelina: It was no picnic in the park

Thanks Kaori for the invitation and I also agree that the CSA was the worst job ever. Perhaps you’ve forgotten that my boss would screech my name from inside her office while I sat out in a maze of cubicles. Fortunately, being only 5 feet tall (with shoes on) the cubicles were tall enough that I could leave my desk, walk away from Elvira and no one was the wiser.

Last weekend I went to Picnic Restaurant for lunch with some girlfriends. I didn’t pick the restaurant. Although it seems amusing to have a restaurant with picnic comfort food, I tend to shy away from gimmicky themed restaurants. Particularly in my neighborhood where the young and eligible reign, these types of restaurants are for those who just recently graduated from East Side Marios and feel grown up now that there is no all-you-can-eat menu.

Picnic Interior

*Picnic Interior

Picnic is definitely style over substance. The interior is actually quite nice with vibrant red walls covered with mirrors and red pleather upholstered picnic tables. We sat down to a regular table and the pleather on my seat has already split. For a restaurant that isn’t even a year old that isn’t a great sign. Its predecessor, MEATing also run by the Eatertainment Group, didn’t last very long at this location so perhaps they are wary of investing too much in decor this time.

We order drinks as we review a very sparse menu. When the espressos arrive there is no spoon so we call the waiter back to ask for one. He apologizes and brings back a large, dirty soup spoon and we need to call him back and ask for a clean one. Two things puzzle me: 1) why did they splurge on the illy espresso cups and did not get appropriate sized spoons 2) why do they have waiters that don’t know they are supposed to check the flatware before handing it to a customer.

Antipasti Platter at Picnic

Two of the girls decide to go with the antipasto platter ($16), picking two cheeses, two meats and two fruits accompanied by bread. The presentation was lovely and they were generally happy except for the mushy olives which appeared to be far past their expiry date.

Bland Potato Salad

Not sure if that would be enough for two, they also ordered the potato salad. They seemed happy with it but I found it to be extremely bland, devoid of any seasoning. Although one pointed out the mustard seeds, all I could taste was mayonnaise.

Grilled Cheese?

My other lunchmate went with the grilled cheese sandwich with 3 cheeses for $8. We were surprised when they came out with three cheese “burgers.” I’m not sure where the grilled part comes as they seemed to be warmed in an oven - definitely not grilled. She didn’t have the heart to complain after she had already sent back the Garden Salad with Crispy Greens ($8) which was filled with old browning iceburg lettuce.

Garden Salad with Crispy Greens

I had also ordered the salad and asked if the crispy greens were a spring mix and our waiter nodded and said it was a salad mix. I also asked if I could have prosciutto on it to make it a heartier salad and assured him I would be willing to pay more. The salad was decent, contained more romaine than iceburg than the salad taken back and only a few brown leaves. They were generous with 4 cherry tomatoes, a couple of croutons and a few olives. I will give them credit for not charging me for the prosciutto, otherwise definitely not worth $8.

The restaurant was fairly empty over lunch, which is unusual for the area. After more than a few months in this location I guess the gimmick has worn off and it will close before the summer. I did wonder if I should have ordered the mac and cheese with truffle oil or one of the other brunch dishes but I’m not sure they would have been much better considered they couldn’t get the simple food right.

Picnic Restaurant
2411 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON

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