We were looking back through the Brooklyn Based archives the other day and found this post from 2008, called Meals on a Blanket. It was woefully out of date, so we went through brought it into the present (and added new and better snacks). But, we also decided to add a whole new list of a few more spots for outdoor relaxation and libations. Thus, More Meals on a Blanket.
The Historic Picnic
Sweet Spot: History buffs will find themselves daydreaming of picnics past on the grounds of the Vander Ende-Onderdonk house, on 1820 Flushing Avenue at the edge of Ridgewood and Bushwick. The house and grounds are open to the public on Saturdays from 1-5, for a $3 admission fee, and visitors can use the facility’s picnic tables or spread a blanket on the grass when the area is not reserved for private functions. Shoot them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org before making plans.
Perfect Meal: One Yelp reviewer referred to Seneca Garden (601 Seneca Avenue at Grove Street) as “Polish soul food.” Check out their white borscht, perfectly picnic-friendly in a white plastic bottle. Their cucumber salad is popular, as are their deli meats and hot potatoes. If you’re more in the mood for a detox park day, venture instead to Hana Natural Health (24 Wyckoff Avenue, between Troutman and Starr) , where produce, salads, vegetarian and vegan wraps are on offer. You can also pick up vegetarian chicken salad or pre-cooked shumai.
Picnic Cooler: You’ll be spoiled for choice by the selection of delicious Polish beers at Seneca Garden. Zwiec, Warka and Lech are three of their best sellers. Hana’s sells organic Peak IPA and Pale Ale, as well as gluten-free Angry Orchard cider. For something light and spicy, check out Prometheus Springs‘ Capsaicin elixir in lychee wasabi or mango chili.
An Artistic Picnic
Sweet Spot: Creative types will find themselves inspired by a picnic in the Pratt Institute’s Sculpture Park, spread throughout the Brooklyn campus at 200 Willoughby Avenue in Clinton Hill. The park has featured sculptures by artists including Richard Serra, Donald Lipski and Mark di Suvero and was recognized as one of the 10 best college and university campus art collections in the country by the Public Art Review in 2006.
Perfect Meal: Head over to The Green Grape at 765 Fulton Street and peruse their selection of cheeses, or pick up Mediterranean tapas to go at Olea (167 Lafayette Avenue at Adelphi). If you prefer an indoor picnic (ants and grass are not for everyone), check out Olea’s $1.50 oysters and $3-6 tapas between 4 and 7 p.m. Monday-Friday, after a stroll through the sculptures.
Picnic Cooler: When we asked Thirst Wine Merchants (187 Dekalb Avenue at Carlton) to recommend a summer picnic wine, they couldn’t show us the rosé fast enough. It’s perfect paired with savories or lighter meats–think cold sandwiches and chicken. They were particularly enthusiastic about Massaya rosé from Lebanon. A 2011 vintage with structure and body, this is a wine for someone likes vino with character.
Sweet Spot: Once a hub of a thriving shipping industry, Louis Valentino, Jr. Park and Pier in Red Hook is now a popular picnic destination. Named for a New York firefighter who lost his life in a 1996 blaze, the spot overlooks the New York Harbor and affords visitors great views of the Statue of Liberty, Governor’s Island, Staten Island and the Manhattan Skyline.
Perfect Meal: Make your way to the Red Hook Lobster Pound (284 Van Brunt Street) to pick up a taste of New England in Brooklyn. Try a lobster ($16) or shrimp roll ($9) and wash it down with a Maine Root Soda in root beer, mandarin orange or sarsaparilla. Cap off your lunch with a whoopie pie, or head over to Baked at 359 Van Brunt Street for a rosemary apricot or chocolate bourbon pecan bar.
Picnic Cooler: It seems only fitting to drink Sixpoint Brewery’s Apollo summer brew while in Red Hook. It is described by the brewery itself as being “a unique offering for the sun-worshipping ale lover.”
For more suggestions, check out our original Meals on a Blanket, with picnic places in Long Island City, Bay Ridge, the South Slope and more.