There is no better way to celebrate the warmer weather than by dining outside. No, we aren't talking about patios or your deck. We are talking about laying down that old gingham picnic blanket, layering on the bug spray and going to town on a picnic basket.
Restaurants across the country have sprung into action to put their own special twist on picnic baskets to respond to the closure of their restaurants. Picnic baskets also provide the consumer an option to still support local, whether or not their favourite restaurants are open for dine-in service.
These easy-to-eat packages range from laidback to luxurious.
Au Pied de Cochon's Ready-to-eat Picnic Box
Whether you're in the countryside, at one of Montreal's many vibrant inner-city parks or in your backyard, this picnic box from Au Pied de Cochon is an ideal culinary companion.
This acclaimed restuarant sells per-person picnic baskets ($40 each) with contents that change with what's in season. They are available in limited quantities and for picked up from Thursdays to Sundays. The restaurant's current box offering includes lobster ceviche, laure salad, BBQ duck and fries, asparagus salad and strawberry rhubarb pie. Similar to meals one might have at Au Pied De Cochon, this is an indulgent feast in a box.
Bernard Stanley Gastropub's Picnic Kit (St. John's, NFLD)
Looking over to the East Coast, Bernard Stanley Gastropub in St. John's is offering a down-home picnic box. This picnic for two is ideal for a date night and includes two sandwiches, two salads or two kettle chips, two sodas and two desserts.
Folks can opt for small or large picnic kits at $36 or $48, respectively. As well, on Tuesdays, the pub will donate $1 from any dish sold from their kit or takeout menu to a local charity.
Chancho Tortillera's Backyard Kit (Vancouver, B.C.)
Chancho Tortilleria, one of Vancouver's most popular contemporary Mexican eateries, has created a reputation for itself over the years for its traditional corn tortillas. Chancho wants you to ditch the hotdogs and up your al fresco dining game, so they released a meal kit that is full of Latin American goodness and as good for a picnic as it is on your patio.
Its kit includes freshly-made corn tortillas with carnita or veggie fillings, house-made chips, guacamole, house-made salsas and more. You can choose your protein and your sides–to-go margaritas and micheladas are also up for grabs–making this backyard kit a total crowd pleaser, no matter how picky some of your pals might be.
Orders for kits can be made every day until 7:45 p.m.
Obladee's Care Package (Halifax, N.S.)
This cozy wine bar located in downtown Halifax has been a staple of the city's food scene for years. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the restaurant has transitioned from pouring interesting wines and tasty fare inside their restaurant to creating care packages of their typical provisions for people to take and enjoy outside.
When you place your order, a sommelier selects a bottle of wine for you and pairs it with cheeses for charcuterie. A fresh baguette is added to accompany the meal and finally, the kit is topped with handmade chocolates. Obladee injects as much of the in-person experience as possible into the boxes. Background notes about the items you choose are provided along with your box, just like if you had a sommelier at your table.
An Obladee Care Package costs $55 (some friends to enjoy said package still required).
Patois' Bento Boxes (Toronto, ON)
If you didn't start to salivate at your first glance at these delicious "bento boxes" from Toronto's Jamaican-Chinese fusion hotspot, Patois, then your tastebuds might need a check up. These complete to-go meals offer a wide range of bold flavours in a compact tray. Dishes change slightly from week to week, but the current bento box boasts jerk brassicas, "Trini Mac Pie", pickled vegetables, red beet curry devilled egg, rice and peas and more.
Just remember to B.Y.O.B. (bring your own blanket) before you pick up your boxes and head to the park.
River Café’s choose-your-own-adventure picnic (Calgary, AB)
River Café, an iconic Calgary restaurant on Prince's Island Park known for its locally sourced cuisine, offers elegant picnic baskets every spring and summer.
Although they are not offering picnic baskets and blankets this year as they do in other years, they are encouraging people to bring their own. In addition to this, they have changed some of their packaging to more sustainable alternatives like paper and compostable materials. With local ingredients and environmentally-friendly offerings, this is the perfect basket to enjoy while surrounded by nature. You don't have to stray too far from the River Café to find a spot surrounded by nature to enjoy your picnic.
Available from Wednesday to Sunday every week until the fall, the offerings span from roasted beet and hazelnut salad, house cured charcuterie, sandwiches, desserts and you can even add pre-chilled bottles of wine to make it a balanced meal.
Orders must be placed by 8 p.m. the day before.
Zoe Ford Catering's Backyard Distance Party in a Box (Montreal, QC)
Zoe Ford Catering, owned by Top Chef Canada alum Jo Notkin, has been serving interesting food to crowds in Montreal for years, but this year, they decided to switch it up with their Backyard Distance Party in a Box. This box is served "quarantine style", meaning each guest gets their own individual self-contained tray, just like a TV dinner, but fancied up a bit... ok, a lot. Zoe Ford Catering's first party box includes surf and turf, chimichurri steak, ranch potato salad, Caesar salad and dessert.
Whether you're holding a socially-distanced picnic or backyard party, or just don't feel like making hors d'oeuvres for your Money Heist watch party, this basket has got your back.
Zoe Ford's Backyard Distance Party in a Box rings in at $165 and can serve up to six people.