Wednesday, May 28, 2008


I decided to gather my West Coast fam together for an intimate dinner to celebrate my birthday. After all, little Preston is a tad too young to shoot-back shots of Grey Goose with his Uncle Wen at Libertine this coming Saturday. I wanted to try someplace that I hadn’t been to, and definitely wanted to keep the dinner as simple and “local” as possible. The logical choice: Piknic in Playa Vista.

Now this wasn’t a “let’s sit on gingham sheets underneath weeping willows” kind of picnic. Piknic is actually a homely spot in the planned Playa Vista community situated where Jefferson and Lincoln meet (right outside Playa/Marina). It is the brainchild of the family who owns the popular (and somewhat overrated) Toast in West Hollywood, and is a fusion of hip/chic style and classic restaurant comfort. We were seated at a table in the middle of the room, and most of the time I felt like I was at dinner at a friend’s house – never minding the bus boys and servers milling about. The small and intimate dining area was dotted with dark wood tables and chairs, giving it the air of a classic NYC bistro, sans the intimidating white table cloths. Frosted plexiglass squares encasing dried maple leaves hung cleverly from the ceiling, which added to the coziness of the little space. It gave off an air of “fall” despite the obvious spring greenery screaming at us from the outside. The natural “Earthy” tones that highlighted the space made me want to curl up in a blanket and watch the Lakers game that was playing in the bar area.

The dinner menu was filled with everything from tasty appetizers to pasta dishes, salads, creative burgers, and some classic dishes (think Chicken L’orange, steaks, crusted ahi fillets). We started off with a spinach artichoke dish that did the job, but was reminiscent of the stuff you’d find at your local Applebee’s (we probably should’ve ordered the calamari, which gets rave reviews). But since I was hungry, it served its purpose. Other dishes that were ordered included: capellini in a light tomato herb sauce with grilled chicken (which totally hit the spot for me), an interesting “mac n’cheese” dish made with orichette pasta (plus grilled chicken, bay shrimp, and Italian sausage –not your ordinary mac n’cheese), miniature sliders with sweet potato fries, and the Randy Steak Salad made with grilled Niman Ranch top sirloin. The mix of dishes ranged from excellent to just “ok,” but in essence the overall meal was nice. The highlight – a tantalizing dessert tray, of which we ordered a white-chocolate walled strawberry shortcake, and a fun cappuccino mousse/cake dessert… a great end to a nice time with family and friends.

While the food didn’t exactly scream “come back and eat me again,” I would probably go back for the ambience and the decently diverse wine list. Eating at Piknic reminded me of being in those nice neighborhoody spots that are found all over the Arlington area back in Northern Virginia, or the Bethesda area of Maryland. Playa Vista gives off a certain vibe that screams “suburbia,” yet you know that the beach is actually just a hop, skip and a jump away. That definitely added to the overall experience. While I may not go out of my way to make reservations in the main dining room, I’d definitely be down for casual eats and drinks at the bar.

All in all, it was the company that made the experience at Piknic really “pop.” It definitely was a nice way to celebrate another year with people that I love.


Piknic, 13020 Pacific Promenade #1, Playa Vista, CA 90094, 310-496-3966

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