Each summer, droves of city dwellers and suburbanites alike leave the comfort of their (hopefully) air-conditioned abodes to enjoy eating alfresco with their loved ones in one of the wonderful parks and green spaces the city has to offer.
Spice up your love life and increase your score on the spontaneity meter with these three gourmet basket providers.
Gourmet on the go
After graduating from the Culinary Business Academy, personal chef Linda Werner started up her own business. In addition to her meal delivery service and dinner party catering, she also puts together high-end picnic baskets on request.
For $175 (which includes tax, delivery and pickup), she’ll whip up an epicurean meal for two with all the fixings. Pair gourmet sandwich options, like the shrimp po’ boy, grilled flank steak, or avocado white bean wrap with chipotle slaw, with your choice of salads (salad niçoise or antipasto salad, to name two).
Nibble on hummus with crackers and fruit salad, and enjoy your choice of oatmeal raisin walnut cookies, vanilla cannoli or cupcakes for dessert.
Werner’s left nothing to chance with this basket. She includes a blanket that can also double as a tablecloth, plates, cups, cutlery and napkins, so that you have everything you need.
To ensure availability, order a week in advance. Baskets can be delivered all over the city, from Etobicoke to East York to North York, so they are easily consumed at the park, at your home or at a party.
Fun and games
Conveniently located next to Trinity Bellwoods Park, the County General has quite the (delicious) reputation for its buttermilk fried chicken and hearty brunch. But one of the biggest draws is its food- and activity-filled picnic baskets.
You can order items from the menu like beef dip (chipotle marinated flank steak, caramelized onions, chicken thyme gravy) and the grilled cheese (smoked Guelph cheddar, caramelized onions, sourdough bread), and the friendly staff will pack them all up for you and load them into a basket.
There’s also a checkered blanket and your choice of games (including bocce ball, croquet and football and Frisbee) to entertain you after your meal.
Although there’s no charge for the basket and games rental, guests must leave a valid credit card at the restaurant until the basket’s return.
936 Queen St. W., 416-531-4447
Park side luxury
Another Trinity Bellwoods fave is H Bar, an unassuming local bar with some tasty options. The simple basket for two ($35) comes with your choice of sandwiches or wraps (including pulled pork, chicken salad and veggie), two sides (like salad and fries) and a civilized number of cookies (six, to be exact).
Or, if you’re feeling a little bit fancy, grab the deluxe basket for two ($50). Instead of sandwiches, this package includes two focaccia flatbreads, two portions of chicken or veggie kebabs, a salad topped with pickled veggies and chips and dip. It’s all capped off with a summer berry pudding, more of those aforementioned cookies and two Franklin & Sons sodas.
It costs $30 to rent the blanket and the basket for up to 24 hours, but you get $15 back upon their safe return. Both packages come with a Frisbee.
859 Queen St. W., 647-352-4227