For Lemon Meringue (2390 Bloor West, at Jane, 416-769-5757 ), sibling restaurateurs Slava Iwasykiw and Sonia Potichnyj considered an available space near the Summerville Market, but the red tape involved in opening a bistro in that snooty nabe became too NIMBY. No problem. The sisters established - with Derek Strachan in the kitchen, who coincidentally worked under the Market's Chris Klugman at Oro - one of the west side's most popular spots. CanStage presents its pay-what-you-can Shakespeare season - this year, Twelfth Night - in nearby High Park every July and August. What better excuse for a picnic, especially considering that Lemon Meringue offers top-notch takeaway?
Start with thinly sliced string-tied pork tenderloin ($3.99/100g) stuffed with savoury spinach, bacon and shallot in a torn baguette ($1.75) smeared with sweet roasted red pepper and raisin chutney, or cornflake-breaded chicken breast replete with Italian pecorino and German Speck ham ($1.99/100g).
Traditionalists will recognize old-school barbecued back ribs ($2.99/ 100g) roasted in maple syrup, mustard and srirachi. Maybe not that last ingredient, but they'll know what to do with the moist towelette that comes with them.
Roasted peaches 'n' cream salad with diced red onion and sweet peppers kicks in with a tangy lime vinaigrette accented with cumin, caraway and coriander. Buttery Old World potato salad gets creamed with hard-boiled egg in mayo and combined with another tiny dice of real - not frozen - peas and carrots sprinkled with freshly clipped dill. Barely cooked spring green beans join strips of multicoloured bell pepper in an assertive sesame oil vinaigrette tossed with black sesame seeds.
Or try perfectly al dente, vibrant green asparagus spears tangled with shiitake 'shrooms stir-fried in sweet soy (all salads $1.99/100g). Finish with tart lemon cookies (95 cents each), a butter pastry disc the size of a Ritz cracker layered with a translucent slice of candied citrus.
Special mention should be made of Lemon Meringue's - or rather, the owners' mom, Elsie's - butter and cognac pâté ($6.95), a smooth, subtle spread that's the equal of any in town.