You Decide: Is Picnic on 57th More Than Just a Generic Midtown Deli?

Picnic on 57th

Got this email from Lunch’er Nicholas last week:

A while back you made a very brief mention of just a out of bounds “Picnic on 57th” (57th just east of Lexington). Well it opened on Monday and I tried it out today. The place looked like a generic Deli walking in but i was hungry and running out of time on my lunch hour so i settled on their “Boneless Wild Berry BBQ Rib Hero” (that’s how it was written on their chalk board…no description otherwise….yes it was a gamble). Well… imagine my face as the sandwich guy (who had clearly never made the sandwich before) began assembling the baguette with (mostly) boneless BBQ riblets (shortrib i think), then roasted corn, grilled onions and finally french fries. He even had to incredulously ask the other sandwich guy if it really meant french fries! It was $8.50 before tax. I’ve attached a cell-phone photo for you…

Picnic on 57th

I admit its not the best quality photo. Overall I probably wouldn’t recommend the sandwich unless you like your BBQ on the sweet side. I also would have liked everything to be warmer (which may be something they will work out over time but they’d probably heat it up for you if you asked).

There are a few things on the menu I think you might find interesting for your northeasterly readers…. Bahn Mi (“Pork, Pate, pickled carrots, daikon, cucumber, jalapeno and cilantro on a warm baguette…7.50″) and … on their Grill Menu… the Reuben Dog (“Hebrew national Frank, Corned Beef, Sauerkraut, Melted Gruyere & Spicy Mustard … $4.50 fries not included)

I’ll give them a try again in a week or so to see if any of the kinks have been worked out (if only to try that Reuben Dog). I appreciate that they are trying to do something different in an area where so much is the same old same old.

Unable to resist banh mi in any form, I headed over at the end of last week to check the place out and discovered what looked to me like a completely generic Midtown deli.

Picnic on 57th

I asked the guy behind the counter what’s in the banh mi.  He said pork, and pointed to some pickled carrots in the assembly station.  I asked what about pate?  He looked at me like I was crazy and said “no”.  I walked out.

Could be opening jitters, and that BBQ thing with french fries looks interesting.  But to me it seemed like just another crappy deli.  What do you guys think?  Anybody been to Picnic on 57th yet that has anything good to report?

Picnic on 57th btw. Lex+3rd


  • They are across the street from my office, and, yes, they are simply another NY deli, but on the upscale/expensive side. Closer to a Toasties then a Smilers. One of the things that did intrigue me, but not enough to buy, was a wedge of Iceberg Lettuce, about 4 strips of bacon, blue cheese dressing and a biscuit for 5.95.

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    unfortunately, I’ll still have to try the banh mi…

  • that rib sammie doesnt look very appetising to me. I hope it was at least tasty for $8.50…it doesnt look very filling.

    Id rather have street meat.

  • Zach, Sorry for sending you on a wild Bahn Mi chase.

    The sandwich was filling for the price but the sauce was too sweet(for me). I’m a mustard bbq kind of guy.

    I’m still intrigued by the Reuben Dog idea (just figured i’d wait a week to try again)

    ….in the meantime…any suggestions for northeasterly lunches is always appreciated (other than El Rey del Sabor)

    ps. “Nicholas”?

  • Nick— I know it is a generic deli, but the rosemary chicken at Toasties is awesome. they bake a whole garlic clove in there, plus you get 2 average sides, all under 10.00. The serving of the chicken is gigantic! If you need a re-hash of places that were reviewed north east, there are a few.

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    just had the banh mi… and actually it isn’t that bad.. but you can’t go into it thinking you’re getting a banh mi.. just think of it as a sandwich with a hint of banh mi… but for what it is.. not too bad.. i was expecting a horrible sandwich.. but got a decent sandwich..

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    Picnic 57 is churning out a variety of high end food like no other in the area. I can not vouch for their sushi, sandwiches or soups but their featured foods and saleds are on par with Mangia on 57th and the current loss-leader introductory lunch deal of $8.95 for a protein plus 2 sides is a ridiculous value. No way they can continue to offer this type of quality for that price point. I spoke briefly with the owner on Friday and he confirmed this is an introductory price hoping to build volume, which has not happened yet.

    Im currently eating cucumber salad, brussel sprouts with pancetta and a slice of wild caught striped bass seared on one side and moist in the middle. Just to name a few things offered today (and there are at least 3x more offered): Mahi Mahi with endvies, grilled or blackened salmon, Skirt Steak Chimichuri, Orechietta w/sausage, giant pork chops with great looking cross hatches, asian chicken salad, broccoli rabe and spinach

    I’ve worked in the area for 12 years and have tried everywhere. There is nothing remotely close to their level of diversity and quality. The even have Inko’s Mint tea which I love and can barely find in nyc.

    The staff is just so-so but for a point-and-choose lunch at this caliber for under $10 (after tax), I don’t really care.

  • stevenp – You have a new target.

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    Some of the worst fries I’ve ever eaten, and service was so slow I had time to write 2 chapters of my new book on how to not run a deli in midtown!

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