Picnic. That's a word that evokes a spread of food on a long table in wonderful weather from spring to fall. There are even some hearty souls that would rough it in cold weather as long as the day is sunny. Alternatively, you can just make your way over to PicNic Winebar in the Riverside/Leslieville part of Queen Street East. You'll find yourself in a room that's modern but rustic and as open as the outdoors. Sturdy blond teak wood chairs alongside several low and high top tables surround the pe
rimeter of the room but it's the lengthy communal 'picnic' table that dominates the room.
The congenial manager, Matt Simons, told me, "We try to source all of our products from local suppliers. Most of our cheese comes from The Leslieville Cheese Shop, our bread comes from The Brick Bakery, just around the corner, and we source local produce as well." Accordingly menus for lunch and dinner change quite often. Lunch is short, sweet and uncomplicated. Paninis in varieties such as Pulled Pork with Brie ($8) or the New Delhi ($8) made with Naan bread, tandoori and a side of lentil salad, are popular. Daily salads, soup and quiche round out the other lunch options.
The young chef, Yoann Casadei from Lyon, France, made his way to Montreal before settling here in Toronto. With the varied selection of wines, from New World to Old, I wanted to know how Yoann aimed to work with the list. I had enjoyed an Argentinian Malbec with my platter but then I begin to imagine this dark, brooding wine with a large hunk of roasted meat. "I did a large roast of Berkshire pork just recently," Yoann said enthusiastically, "but the classic stews are requested a lot more these days". The current evening menu includes Cornish Hen, Skate, stew of the day and light bites like quiche or panini along with The PicNic Platter for either lunch or dinner. There are desserts made daily and tempting dessert wines on offer including ports and sweeter styled sherries. Even though this is a wine bar, Matt has single malts, Cognacs and Armagnacs on the list too. Now that's a fine end to my kind of picnic...
FIVE STARS: (Extraordinary) A one-of-a-kind, world-class experience.
FOUR STARS: (Excellent) Superior. Memorable, high-quality menus and/or savvy service.
THREE STARS: (Good) Solid places that beckon with generally appealing cooking.
TWO STAR: (Fair) Just OK. A place not worth rushing back to. But, it might have something worth recommending.
ONE STAR: (Poor) Below-average restaurant.
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