A former chef at Berry Park in Williamsburg takes his act across the river with the opening of Picnic, a sunny East Village restaurant specializing in Midwestern comfort food with a classical French pedigree. Chef Nicholas Nostadt spent his school days at the French Culinary Institute—whose hallowed kitchens also turned out rock stars like David Chang and Wylie Dufresne—before taking a turn behind the flat top at the popular Brooklyn bar. His cuisine at Picnic lives somewhere between the two, offering hearty comfort food dishes using high quality ingredients prepared in classic techniques.
The Turkey Leg Confit with cranberry BBQ ($18) represents these two ideals, as do the Mussels ($12), steamed in a fragrant brother of hard cider, apricot nectar and dijon cream with herbs and spices. A variety of savory sandwiches includes a Grilled Cheese ($11) made with fontina, taleggio, roasted tomato and basil on olive bread; and a adult version of a Sloppy Joe ($8) with dill relish and grain mustard. After school snacks of Roll-Ups get a makeover courtesy of Mortadella and Roqufort cheese, with Deviled Eggs, Boiled Peanuts and Pickled Veggies rounding out the $5 Snack menu. The restaurant offers an all-American selection of wine plus tap, bottled and canned brews from the States as well.
117 2nd Avenue, (212) 777-3600; picniceastvillage.com