The Fourth of July is an ideal time to take a break from your overly air-conditioned office and dine in the great outdoors (if the weather holds, that is). Good thing many local eateries offer prepackaged picnic baskets. Take a break, get some fresh air, see some fireworks and eat a sandwich near some squirrels. Four of Boston’s great picnic providers explain how to do it in style, but call fast — a few of them like 24 hours notice.
With a cured-meat selection second to none, a full spectrum of cheeses and a wine or two for sale, Central Bottle doesn’t need a prefilled basket to be the ideal picnic depot. What their picnic rentals offer is the chance to fill the wicker with a proud tradition of picking products perfectly. Central Bottle is confident enough in their decision making to only sell one brand each of chocolate, olive oil and bread. “Selecting a perfect basket was easy,” said owner Liz Vilardi. “We’ve been selecting things for 14 years.” For the prefab basket, they’ve selected the perfect traditional salumi picnic, including local cheeses, a saucisson sec, a baguette of that best bread and bar of best chocolate.
$75, requires 24-hour notice. 617-225-0040, 196 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge
The Artisan Bistro at The Ritz-Carlton
Ritz-Carlton executive chef Andrew Yeo said this year’s baskets feature redoubled efforts for locavore cuisine. That includes beef wraps with beef from Maine’s Archer’s Angus Farms, locally-sourced produce and the picnic menu’s top seller, Foley Seafood mini lobster tacos. Each souvenir picnic tote bag comes with two sandwiches, salads, sides and desserts chosen from two menus – an $85 for two selection of regular sandwiches or (ahem) ritzier $125 package of open-faced ones. And don’t forget Fido: a $50 “Rover” add-on gets pups an assortment of goodies from Pawsh Dog Boutique.
$85-$125 for people food, $50 for dogs, requires 24-hour notice, 617-574-7176, 10 Avery St., Boston
Beacon Hill Bistro at The Beacon Hill Hotel
Beacon Hill Bistro will put any and all of its menu into its picnic baskets. Executive Chef Lucas Sousa suggests you let them pack you something refreshing, like his chilled cucumber fennel soup or strawberry rhubarb salad. Or, for the bold, try something you can only do from a bistro steps away from a Boston Common picnic ground — a raw oyster picnic. “It’s not something I would do if I was traveling too far,” he said. “But who doesn’t love oysters?”
Menu prices, requires one hour notice, 617-723-7575, 25 Charles St., Boston
Tasty Burger’s new picnic delivery service may only be operating out of its Harvard Square location, but Cantabrigians would be wise not to brag. Savvy Southie residents have been getting unofficial Tasty Burger picnics delivered to the L and M Street Beaches for just over a year. What the new service offers is a spiffy souvenir tote bag to haul other picnic necessities. Is your country-fried Blue Collar Burger the picnic from a Monet painting? No. Is it just as delicious? Yes. “Picnics are different things to different people,” said Tasty Burger Co-Owner Brian Reyelt. “For some people it’s a baguette, cheese and salumi. For me, it’s a Gorgonzola burger.”
$11 per person, minimum two people, 617-425-4444, 40 JFK St., Cambridge