This weather practically demands a picnic. But having the time to make the entire spread is often more dream than reality. That's where some of L.A.'s top restaurants step in with takeout picnics to order. OK, you didn't make everything yourself. Get over it. What's important is being outdoors and spending time with friends and family. Just don't forget the napkins — and real silverware. And especially don't forget the corkscrew.
Suzanne Goin makes it easy at Tavern. Order the Cheese and Charcuterie Box for Two. You get a selection of three cheeses, some prosciutto and assorted Spanish and Italian cured meats, almonds, walnuts, olives and such, plus a beautiful epi baguette and special butter. She's got a couple of other choices — the Brentwood (slow-roasted salmon with cucumber yogurt, pasta with roasted tomatoes and ricotta, Blue Lake beans, and berries with crème fraîche) or the Young Frenchman (basically a jambon beurre on ficelle or triple-cream cheese with watercress and apple on the same bread, along with succotash, watermelon salad with feta and cookies).
Bouchon's chef de cuisine, Rory Herrmann, steps it up with four summer picnic menus from the basic Le Petit Picnic — with choice of sandwich (get the tuna Niçoise on ciabatta), a cookie or macaron (definitely the macaron!) and bottled water — to the Basket Bouchon, complete with charcuterie plate, pâté, cheese, hummus and a choice of salads. Best bargain? The Basket Artisanal with charcuterie, cheese, marinated olives, bread and water for $22 per person. Add on a box of six mini-macarons for $16.50 and you're off. (For pickup, park in the public lot next door free.)
235 N. Cañon Drive, Beverly Hils, (310) 271-9910, http://www.bouchonbistro.com. Summer picnic menus, $14 to $48.
Clementine, the soulful Century City bakery, offers the most options, depending on your appetite. The Double Dip special gives you two dips with crostini and crudités. There's a Spanish Tapas Plate that includes cheeses and cured meats, a Grand Aioli with summer veggies, steamed fingerlings, hard-cooked eggs — and a garlicky aioli. You can get classic sandwiches and a vast array of salads. There's also a build-your-picnic option: Choose one entree (grilled jumbo shrimp? cold meatloaf?) plus any two salads. Pick out one or more of owner-baker Annie Miler's enticing desserts, maybe the banana caramel parfait.