Chicago Picnic suggestions
Hi... I am trying to put together a romantic picnic for a very special occasion. I was thinking of going with Fox & Obel's pre-made picnic basket for the food -- anyone have experience with these?
But more importantly, where to have a picnic that we can enjoy wine with it?
I thought I had arranged rental of a private rooftop, but the owner has not responded to my email so I am now trying to come up with a backup plan.
I love the rooftop idea, but after several weeks of searching, I can't find anything besides the non-replyer.
Any help would really really be appreciated!
Pastoral on Lake Street also offers excellent picnic baskets:
Pastoral, of course, is close to Grant Park. They draw crowds (so I don't know how "romantic" they would be), but many Grant Park events (concerts, jazz fest, fireworks) offer good accompaniments to picnics.
I was really excited about a Fox and Obel picnic basket for a concert at Ravinia a few weeks ago and after picking up several of the vegetarian baskets for my friends and I, we were really quite disappointed.
The vegetarian basket consisted of a small fruit salad, a small caprese salad, and three types of bruschetta, which were essentially three pieces of hard bread and what amounted to a teaspoon each of three bruschettas. Maybe there was a cookie involved. It in no way resembled a meal, so if you wanted it to be a meal, then you would have to prepare some supplements, so I would advise you to just save your money and skip it all together. (We picked it up on the way to the train station and actually felt the need to stock up on supplements at the 7-11)
As far as picnics go, if enormous crowds don't detract from your idea of romantic, an evening of wine, music, and a candle-lit picnic at Ravinia might be a good choice!
There's nothing better than a romantic pic nic for two. I throw one together at least twice a month during the warmer months. From the casual pic nic to the more formal, there's Ravinia, Priztker Pavillion, The beautiful garden/park behind the Lincoln Park Conservatory, the grass along The Buckingham fountain, and the peninsula at Belmont or Montrose Harbors. Keep in mind that alcohol is prohibited at the public venues and parks, but rarely ever enforced...except for the loosely monitored lawn at the Pritzker Pavillion.
I will say though, that although the premade pic nic basket from Fox & Obel's is quite cool, you will have just as much romance without it.
My menu, if homemade, usually consists of grilled chicken, a mixed salad, and guac., wine, etc. For premade, I often stop by the Middle Eastern Bakery on Foster in Andersonville for freshmade Garlic Hummus, taboulleh, kibbe, lentil soup, babaganouj, and cold fava bean salad (oh, and the hot pita is fantastic too). A complete takeout meal from Zad on Broadway, Greek Islands, The Flying Chicken, Las Tablas, etc, is great too. The possibilites are endless!
I recommend Northernly Island, for a lovely view of the city and plenty of privacy. As long as there is no concert that evening at Charter One Pavilion, you won't believe how close you are to the city but without the city noise.
The UIC campus has a couple of unobstructed views of the city too, from the near west side. The BSB building at Harrison and Morgan is my favorite, it's got one terrace that looks right into the city.
I second the Lincoln Park conservatory grounds too.
No pic nic basket required. You can be plenty romantic without it! I pic nic for two at least twice a month during the summer months.
From the formal to the casual, here are a few great venues with great atmosphere and picturesque views;
The amazing garden at the Lincoln Park Conservatory
The garden/lawn surrounding Buckingham Fountain
The lawn at the Pritzker Pavillion (alcohol is loosely monitored here)
The lawn at the Petrillo Band shell
The lawn along the concrete penisula at both Belmont and Montrose Harbors.
As far as the menu goes, your options are endless!
Fox and Obel: a few take-out items
Whole Foods: a few take out items
I often get take-out from one of the many great ethnic restaurants in the city like; Zad on Broadway, Babylon on Damen, Greek Islands, Koon-o-Kabob, Las Tablas, Vicerory of India...endless possibilities!
For homemade, I keep it simple with pre-grilled steak or chicken, fruit salad, guac, veggies, etc., lots of options really.