Name of restaurant: Picnik
Concept: A single-hog-origin sausage and craft beer restaurant and bar in Old Town Pasadena.
Chef: Eddie Ruiz of Corazón y Miel, in conjunction with Michael Puglisi of Electric City Butcher.
What dish represents the restaurant, and why? The grilled Malaysian sausage topped with pickled red cabbage and sauteed market peppers. It's a juicy pork sausage made with a little citrus, chile and shrimp paste. Its subtle Southeast Asian flavors are absorbed by a baguette.
Runners-up? Lamb-based Merguez sausage with sauerkraut and sauteed onions, Puglisi adds a little extra love in the form of flavorful lamb fatback to give it extra juiciness. If looking for something a bit lighter, Ruiz's house-cured sardine sandwich with fennel slaw is the thing to get. The fishiness is tamed and the filets are meaty. The fennel slaw topping the fish is refreshing. Vegetarians get it just as good with a meaty portobello mushroom flavored with a Texas-style adobo BBQ dry rub. If not in a sausage mood, Ruiz's sous vide pork shoulder (crisped up with a little duck fat in a cast-iron skillet) is waiting. It's served rustic-style, with grilled bread, a pile of cornichons and tangy whole grain mustard so you can go to town with it.
Appropriate for: Post- or pre-shopping lunch or dinner with friends or the entire family. Juicy sausages are affordable here and seem to make everybody happy.
Service: It's a counter-service setup, everything should be good as long as you make sure your number sign is up high and facing the kitchen.
Uh-oh: The Kennebec fries are In-&-Out style, meaning they are cut thin and don't have a crisp exterior. Some people are known to not like this style; if that is your case, stick to the creamy, tender potato salad.
What are you drinking? A chilled pint of Modern Times Lomaland Saison, a relatively new brewery that has a cult following for their esteemed beers. The light funkiness of the unique yeasts found in this ale go nicely with the umami factor of all the sausages and sandwiches.
Info: 168 W. Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena. (626) 793-8008