Dee and I had dinner last night at Picnic, and it was the usual excellent result. Well trained and helpful staff, excellent food, and modest noise levels.
We had an early seating, as the house was full later in the evening. Christine had mentioned that soft shell crabs are in, so that's what I needed.
A starter plate of brie, parmigiano slices, croutons, olives, honeyed walnuts, dried cranberries. Great flavors.
I had an arugula salad which included shreds of the Parmigiano, poached pear slices, and a peppery olive oil and hint of lemon dressing. This was very good. Dee had an artichoke dip with wedges of pizza crust. Usually served with spinach, the house was out, so we did without. This had excellent tastes, with garlic, peppers, artichoke, etc emerging from a cave aged Gruyere base.
Dee had the venison, which was superb. Very generous serving with four pieces, perfectly cooked to medium rare. Great fragrances, esp on a night threatening rain. I ordered the soft shell crabs, which were two large, thin battered crabs lightly sauteed in white wine, garlic and oil. Not overly engineered or deep fried, but moist and tasting of the sea. I immensely enjoyed them. Served over a bed of haricot vert and wild rice.
We drank a Ch. des Capitans Julienas (2004) which went well with meal. I've been making an effort to work through my older Beaujolais, and this was the last of the 2004s. We didn't order dessert, but the cappucino and coffee were a fine ending to the meal.
The bill came to $90, pre-tip, which I thought was eminently fair. Michelle did an attentive and unobtrusive job watching the table, and there was evident cooperation among the FOH staff. Noise levels were fine, and didn't affect the ability to converse at a suitable level even though the place had about 50 of the 60 seats filled. I've noticed that before, and it's a rare treat in many restaurants.
Joint dinner - Christine mentioned that she's had discussions with other chefs about joint dinners, where she and the other chef would cook together in each restaurant. Bringing different approaches to menu design and composition, etc. Her initial conversations have been good, and she may have announcement(s) soon.
Wine dinner - Also, she mentioned that she would be happy to host a wine dinner during the week, and help in the creation of a special menu. Picnic has done several and they've shown off the cuisine. Friday and Saturday nights tend to be more difficult because the house is running full out, and any special menu would need to be integrated into the extensive regular menu and chef assignments.
Note to travelers using the Fair Lawn Avenue bridge from the south and west: The bridge will be closed for repairs beginning May 31 for an indefinite period of time. Plan accordingly. We've found that I-80 to NJ 20 north to the Fair Lawn Avenue bridge to the restaurant is very direct for us. Taking Route 4 to Plaza Road and then north has more congestion, lights, etc but that would be the best alternative, I think. I don't think Morlot Avenue would be much of an improvement, eitherWebsite