The Picnic House has an awesome large airy space between Park and Broadway at 728 SW Salmon Street. It takes its theme of urban picnic and brings it to life in its atmosphere. The decorative elements here combines the classic touches of the natural outdoors (a huge wooden picnic table including chairs of logs and moss simulated on some walls, and the wall behind what appears will soon be a deli area has a scene of tree, river, and forest animals), all while also lining the walls with printing blocks and touches of vintage 1920s Parisian chic with the fabric of the lounge and bar stools and various wall art and fixtures, interplaying all these various textures to add an air of romance and hint of antique treasure. A bear head with a bowler hat and monocle perched and presiding above the bar embodies all of these with a dash of whimsy. It’s not often that I find a place that presents such style and character in its atmosphere- and yet this place is also brand spanking new, only soft opening this past month. They haven’t even had their official grand opening yet.
Started with $4 happy hour crostini topped with ricotta and drizzle of honey, as well as soups of summer corn, alsatian onions with caramelized onions and bacon, and also one of sweet pea, radish & green pistachio cream with extra virgin olive oil. The pea soup was the best of these appetizers with its layering of greens with just enough richness to thicken the soup without feeling heavy. The corn soup was a bit more bland dominated by the onion with hint of corn- I wonder if they forgot the bacon, which I had expected crumbled on top to counterpoint with salty crunch.
Both salads were good, but in different ways. The mixed greens with fresh berries, toasted cinnamon honey almonds and house made ricotta with a pickled blueberry vinaigrette had a tart freshness to it balanced by a touch of sweetness from the cinnamon honey. The arugula, roasted corn, spring onion and roasted tomatoes with avocado in a grilled lemon dressing on the other hand offered a piquant peppery contrast with each tomato giving a little burst of ripe sweetness here or there.
The dessert was one of the best chocolate cakes we ever had, a chocolate sour cream bundt cake with chocolate ganache that was served slightly warm, with rich milk chocolate in every soft moist bite.
The Picnic House also offers sandwiches, although I haven’t tried any yet, but that is mostly the extent of the menu- lots of small plates to nibble on, a few soups, sandwiches, dessert, and slightly overwrought cocktail creations menu (I’ll be back for the sandwich and proof of the cocktail menu) as well as large assortment of bottled beverages both non and with alcohol- geared towards a lighter meal, or ones you can put in a picnic basket. Everything seems to be of high quality bistro fare you’d find hope to find in the romantic Paris you would drop by in your neighborhood route- homey and smart and elegant all at the same time. Here and there you see a call back to their theme with an actual picnic basket, as well as signage letting you that these straw baskets, fully stocked with plates and silverware and glasses and even a blanket, can be rented by the day + filled with food.