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Ready to host an event that takes the basic idea of the classic picnic and elevates it into something extraordinary? Here at Robert Ryan Catering and Design, we love to turn your dreams into reality. Whether you’re having a corporate event, a family reunion or a wedding reception, an upscale picnic is a fun way to bring everyone together. After all, who doesn’t love a picnic? We’ve put together a great menu of drinks and dishes perfect for an outdoor party to be remembered.

Wet Their Whistles

As your guests enter, you can welcome them with delicious infused waters, with flavors like raspberry and pineapple, cucumber and mint, lime and basil, and strawberry and kiwi. A “signature” cocktail, like an Aperol Spritz, made with Prosecco, Aperol and club soda, is perfect on a warm day. If you have the outdoor space, setting up a variety of lawn games can be a great ice-breaker and give guests something to do during the cocktail hour.

Wow With a Summer-Inspired Cocktail Hour

A raw bar can be so much fun to design and display! Inevitably, a gorgeous raw bar will elicit oohs and ahhs from your guests when they see it. One way to do this is to set up a six-foot chilling table with a wooden frame, fill it with cracked ice and seaweed, then place a variety of seafood on top. Options include jumbo shrimp, stone crab claws, mussels on the half shell, little neck clams and oysters on the half shell. Classic cocktail sauce, hot sauce, tarragon remoulade, mignonette sauce, summer peach salsa, horseradish aioli, lemon wedges and oyster crackers are among the toppings you can pair with the seafood.

Stations Dinner Menu

A variety of food stations can keep a nice flow going among the guests, so no one has to wait in long lines. Besides the raw bar, we recommend three loosely themed stations. We designed the following menu for a recent event, but remember—anything goes! That’s one of the best things about an upscale picnic: There’s no right or wrong way to do it.

Station One

We used wooden serving boards to display a tempting array of charcuterie items, including Serrano ham, pepperoni, Genoa salami, Capocollo, sweet and hot soppressata, Manchego cheese, Stilton cheese, sharp Cheddar and smoked Gouda, plus a whole wheel of Auricchio cheese. Bread is key for charcuterie items and cheeses, so we set out baguettes, ciabatta, sliced breads, black olive and rosemary crackers. Toppings like strawberry-fig preserves, apricot chutney, Dijon mustard, raw honey and mustard are ideal accompaniments. Other tasty appetizers included antipasto with marinated mini-mozzarella balls, Kalamata olives, roasted garlic, charred red bell peppers, and provolone cheese with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Station Two

In a nod to traditional picnic foods, we loaded this table with upscale twists on favorites like chicken salad, barbecue and watermelon. We offered a baby spinach salad with sliced strawberries, feta cheese and toasted pecans with a fresh basil vinaigrette; chicken salad with red seedless grapes and toasted almonds on a croissant; watermelon and heirloom tomato skewers, drizzled with citrus vinaigrette; cucumber cups filled with dill crème fraîche; and whipped herb goat cheese on pumpernickel toast. A creative mac-and-cheese slider, with guacamole and blackberry jam, and a jerk chicken slider, with chipotle barbecue sauce, were delicious additions.

Station Three

Here we took an out-of-the box approach while sticking to the picnic theme. Guests loved these healthy and tasty dishes: Pineapple-mango gazpacho soup shooters; zucchini roll-ups with ricotta cheese and fresh herbs; black-eyed pea and quinoa salad with grilled summer vegetables; bulgur wheat salad with artichokes, crimini and trumpet mushrooms; and pan-seared diver scallops with fresh corn salad. A traditional Angus beef burger slider, an apple wood-smoked bacon and melted Cheddar cheese sandwich, pulled pork barbecue sliders with coleslaw, and brisket sliders, pleased the meat-lovers in the group.

Save Room for Dessert

It’s always fun to offer a “build-your-own” dessert station, and what’s more of a picnic crowd-pleaser than strawberry shortcake? A rum-soaked pound cake, served in a miniature clay pot, came with toppings like mint sprigs, pirouette cookies, fresh whipped cream, chocolate shavings, crushed graham cracker and fresh fruit such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, kiwi, peach and pineapple. Don’t forget the whipped cream!

You and your guests will never look at picnicking the same way again!

Ready to start planning? Schedule a consultation with one of our event managers today!

Robert Ryan Catering and Design plans and executes over 400 events each year, boasts a five-star rating on WeddingWire and has received WeddingWire’s Couple’s Choice/Bride’s Choice Award seven years in a row. Learn more about Robert Ryan Catering & Design and tour our venues. Subscribe to our e-newsletter for exclusive offers, up-to-date news and recipes from our executive chef.

Kim MacKinnon

Photos: Michelle Durinzi, Robert Ryan Catering & Design[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]