Gourmet Picnics Make Summer Special

Any food can be a picnic, but Valley restaurants can design the perfect outdoor meal.

Face it—a picnic can be any food you can shove into a bag. But when it comes to summer picnic baskets, most sophisticated eaters strive to be smarter than the average bear.

This is especially true when headed somewhere like the world-renowned Hollywood Bowl, where you’d hate to find yourself enjoying “Carmina Burana” conducted by the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Gustavo Dudamel with your hand in a bucket of desperation KFC.

It’s possible to come up with a perfectly delightful portable meal with nothing but determination and a Ralphs Club card, but for those who need more help, here are a few ways to go:

Easiest:

Toluca Lake’s Olive & Thyme offers three Picnics for Two from $45 to $55 per person. Ranging from charcuterie and sandwiches to organic roast chicken, each meal includes disposable plates, napkins and cutlery, plus non-alcoholic beverages and dessert. Call 818-557-1560 or email [email protected] 3821 Riverside Dr. 

Studio City’s Village Gourmet Cheese & Wine also offers set-menu picnics for two in French Country, Tuscan, All-American, and Cheese and Fruit picnic varieties. $46.95 to $48.95 for two. As at Olive & Thyme, you may also make your own menu choices, and the store will pack it up for you. Give them a few hours notice. 4357 Tujunga Ave., 818-487-3807

Sherman Oaks’ The Bistro Garden packs picnics for one for $39 to $65 with two hours notice. The most expensive one is a seasonal seafood platter. 818-501-0202

Easy: 

Also in Studio City, Artisan Cheese Gallery will help you turn their three- and five-cheese plates into a complete picnic with your choice of salads, sandwiches and jumbo cookies including chocolate chunk. Prices vary, but picnics with utensils come packed in pretty reusable shopping bag. Owner Shelley Janson and her staff will help you pick an appropriate picnic wine. Shelley currently recommends Demetria Rosé from Santa Ynez Valley. 12023 Ventura Blvd., 818-505-0207

Some assembly required: 

Studio City’s Joan’s on Third (an offshoot of the one that’s actually on Third Street over the hill) promises to pack you a picnic with proper utensils, but you have to make your choices from the menu. 12059 Ventura Pl., 818-201-3900

And since The Sauce can’t be everywhere, please add your picnic basket suggestions in the comments for our next trip to the Bowl (or wherever summer may take us).

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