Parks are free real estate when it comes to social distancing, and many restaurants have seized on their proximity to green spaces by putting together picnic baskets that can be taken to-go.
Here’s who’s doing picture-perfect picnics in Toronto.
Though we can’t hang out in this classy east-end bistro, you can still get chef Alex Austriaco’s comfort-food-inspired menu to go. Aviator is offering rotating picnic menus that change on a weekly basis. Recent entries include a fried chicken box with sweet chili basil sauce and biscuits, a teatime picnic with scones and sandwiches and a kid-friendly “teddy bear picnic” with fruit salad, Wowbutter sandwiches and gummy bear cupcakes. Add-ons like beer, wine and lemonade are available. For the latest options, check @aviatordanforth. 1458 Danforth, aviatordanforth.com
The Roncy specialty food store is known for its fresh pasta – but unless you wanna whip out a camp stove in the middle of the park (probably not encouraged by the authorities) their ready-to-go picnics, available for order online, are probably a better option. Picnic packages with beer ($60) or wine ($85) include two salads, two sandwiches and hand pies, all in an insulated tote. Online pre-orders are heavily encouraged – if your really need to grab one same-day, give them a call. 325 Roncesvalles, alimentarito.com
The Junction spot’s take on a to-go picnic ($35/$62) offers a variety of breads and spreads, including flatbread, crostini, eggplant caponata and curry chicken, plus halloumi skewers, blondies and ginger-honey watermelon. Great Lakes and Oast House brews are available as add-ons. Email email@example.com to order. 3070 Dundas West, @dirtyfoodto
Dish Cooking Studio
The Little Italy cooking school is pivoting to picnic snacks during the pandemic (say that five times fast). Their to-go offering features a collection of snacks, including red pepper romesco dip, baba ghanouj, white wine-poached smoked salmon rillettes, chili-fennel olives, pepperettes, veggies and crostini. The whole shebang serves up to four people. 587 College, dishcookingstudio.com
Of course, there are some picnics where sandwiches just won’t do. Edulis, a spot off King West known for its upmarket, seasonal cuisine, is doing “picnic at home” weekend meals available in advance for limited pre-order. Suitably for Edulis’ ethos, the menu changes from week to week – but the most recent offering included duck sausage with hakurei turnips, lettuce with tarragon dressing, poached asparagus with BC spot prawns, and a handful of extras. Wine and a la carte cheeses are extra. Pre-order at exploretock.com. 169 Niagara, edulisrestaurant.com
Mahjong Bar & Bar Mordecai
The Mahjong Bar bodega is now fulfilling its destiny as a bottle shop and a pickup point for picnics. Their new $25 package includes Bar Mordecai’s finger sandwiches (cucumber, egg, smoked salmon, etc), fresh fruit, and dessert squares. Pre-orders are suggested (firstname.lastname@example.org), but limited grab-and-go quantities are available. Available for adding on: Charcuterie kits and homemade sandwiches, plus cocktail kits, low-intervention wines, beer and ciders. 1276 Dundas West, @mahjongbar
This modern patisserie, a quick jaunt away from St. James Park, has introduced two- and four-person picnic baskets. Each person gets to pick from a list of sandwiches, from tuna salad on baguette to roasted veggie and goat cheese on focaccia rounding things out are salads, fresh fruit, chips, cookies and Sloane iced tea. The baskets are currently only offered Friday and Saturday email email@example.com to pre-order. 60 Adelaide East, @xobisous
Culinary Creative Phoenix
This one’s an event, so you’ll want to get your pre-orders in: On June 28 and July 12, a slate of Toronto chefs will be pairing off to create unique comfort-food picnics, complete with wine pairings. Some of the talent involved: Missy Hui and Craig Wong, Suzanne Barr and Rob Bragagnolo, and Miriam Echeverria with Victor Barry. Profits will be split between Sustain The Line, which pays hospitality workers to prepare meals for front line staff, and Black Health Alliance. culinarycreative.ca/phoenix