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Restaurants

PicNic Wine Bar

Posted by Bryce Daigle / Listed on March 1, 2010 / review policy

Pic NicRiverside's Pic Nic Wine Bar has carved a niche for itself in the east end by serving up carefully sourced charcuterie plates alongside an extensive wine list and simple, thoughtfully executed entrees.

pic-nic-menu.jpgHaving heard good things about their constantly changing offerings, I went down on a recent Friday to check out the current selection. My dining companion and I decided to split the $20 charcuterie plate, which came with a choice of two meats, two cheeses, three condiments, and a basket of crusty bread.

pic nic charcuteriepic-nic-charcuterie3.jpgWe gave our server a few preferences and let her put together a list of recommendations, which turned out to be a good decision. Our preferences amounted to "whatever you think is delicious, plus some goat cheese", and our plate hit both of those important criteria.

Pic Nic assembles some of their charcuterie offerings in-house, but isn't shy about offering tasty, regionally sourced products when available. As such, our plate featured a house sopressata alongside smoked beef from the exotic, faraway land of Mississauga. The sopressata had a spicy (but not overwhelming) kick, and the smoked beef tasted like top-notch beef jerky - boldly salty and smoky, but not dried out to the point of being tough.

Our cheese selection included a mild, firm goat cheese and an intensely earthy Coulommiers that packed the punch of a super-concentrated Brie. Both were good matches for our flavourful charcuterie cuts.

pic nic torontoThe condiment selection offered a long list of extras. We wound up with citrusy marinated olives, intense roasted red peppers, and a sweet red onion jam, all of which suggested that as much effort had been put into the side dishes as was lavished on the meat and cheese choices. In particular, the olives had an addictive salty-sweet quality that was good enough to justify the cost of the whole plate. It's a good thing they don't pack them in jars and sell them for take-out, or I'd be eating a dangerous quantity of olives.

pic-nic-chicken.jpgpic-nic-sandwich.jpgOur first entree, a grilled beef tenderloin sandwich ($16), was almost ludicrously delicious. The beef was tender and medium rare, and smothered in sautéed mushrooms, roasted red peppers and a tangy horseradish jus that kicked the dish from "pub fare staple" to "the kind of sandwich you see in your dreams". Yeah, it's served with an arugula salad with Dijon dressing, but forget about that and just focus on how good this sandwich is. Dang.

The biggest flaw with the beef sandwich is that it sets an unfair standard for whatever you eat next. In our case, the manchego and chorizo-stuffed chicken ($17) was stuck in this unfortunate role. The chicken itself was a little dry, though it was almost rescued by a vibrantly fresh and chunky tomato sauce. Still, I couldn't help but wish we'd ordered two steak sandwiches instead.

Pic Nic's skilfully curated charcuterie plates and incredible steak sandwich are definitely worth the cost of admission. As a bonus, wine fans will also dig their unusually long list of wines by the glass (or bottle). Add it all up along with Pic Nic's warm, stylish space, and you've got one of Riverside's finest dinner spots.

pic-nic-interior1.jpgpic-nic-interior2.jpg

Discussion

14 Comments

LJ / March 2, 2010 at 04:41 pm
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looks yummy
saltspring / March 3, 2010 at 06:08 pm
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??? A wine bar review that mentions nothing about the wine selection???
everlast replying to a comment from saltspring / March 4, 2010 at 08:42 am
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Been here before. The food may be ok, but the wine selection is absolutely terrible.
Wouldn't go back.
Naveen / March 4, 2010 at 12:06 pm
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Can anyone tell me where I can find plates like those featured with the steak sandwich???
S / March 4, 2010 at 05:43 pm
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I had a brilliant plate of food at Pic Nic recently, and the barkeep matched it with a perfect wine. It was like good medicine.
nella / March 8, 2010 at 04:47 am
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nella kitchenware on queen east!! similar or exact same plates...
Karim / March 21, 2010 at 01:15 pm
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Is there an email address or telephone number to contact this place? I live abroad, so an email would be better.
If anyone knows, please forward.
Thanks a lot.
Jenn / May 3, 2010 at 06:11 pm
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I tried calling and emailing for reservations - both were out of service. I guess it closed down...
Madeline / May 4, 2010 at 01:08 pm
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It's still open (647) 435 5298, PicNicWineBar@rogers.com

Great food and charcuterie platters!
Jenn / May 4, 2010 at 11:02 pm
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Strange...that's the phone number I called and it said it was out of service...and that's the email address I used and it bounced back.
Jenn / May 8, 2010 at 08:41 pm
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I'm happy to say that the issue they were having with their phone number & email was resolved and we were able to go tonight. I hope to be back soon! The cheese and charcuterie platter was delish and the beef tenderloin sandwich was awesome (most of which has been brought home for lunch tomorrow!).
chef replying to a comment from Naveen / August 29, 2012 at 09:46 pm
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hi naveen, yes u c can get those plate through northdaletrading.com or canfloydtrading.com if you are in the industry.
they are greaat plates for alot of thing.
hope this helps
C
Geraldine / July 7, 2013 at 03:31 pm
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I did like the style. However, the portion was very small. I had to ask them to add more food into my plate. Even with that, we left hungry. Therefore, we decided to have the rest of our dinner somewhere else. About the food, there was nothing exceptional, even basic. My friend meal was too salty.
About the ambiance, we were the only customer on this Saturday night around 8 pm! About the wine, the price is pretty reasonable ($7-8 the glass).
I don't recommend this restaurant.
Eddie replying to a comment from Naveen / July 23, 2014 at 10:13 am
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the plates are almost certainly from Tap Phong on Spadina (I've bought what looks like that plate for work from there)

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