I wish I knew the feeling of being on a picnic more than I really do. The closest I’ve come in the past few years is packing up a cooler with my favorite snacks and heading to a winery for a day of sipping and snacking with friends. And, I must say, it’s quite relaxing. There’s something special about kicking back with friends in a casual, outdoor environment and connecting over delicious food and beverages. Richmond’s newest restaurant, Pik Nik, brings that sentiment to the table, only you don’t have to schlep any coolers or do any prep.
Owner Joe Kiatsuranon says the goal is unique flavors friends can enjoy together in a laid-back environment without breaking the bank. Sounds pretty good to me! He and chef Alex Bailey collaborated to create a menu of shareable small plates. Kiatsuranon is also co-owner of My Noodle & Bar, Yaya’s Cookbook, Sabai, Mom’s Siam, and Mom’s Siam 2.Pik Nik is his first non-Asian venture and is housed in the former Fan Noodle Bar location.
I got to try some early tastes of Pik Nik menu items at the opening last night. The interior of the restaurant was also designed to bring elements of the outside in. There are actual picnic tables, lots of natural wood tones, hanging plants, a comfortable bar that welcomes you to sidle up for a drink or two, and a spacious patio for people watching on Main Street.
The menu starts with a section called “In the basket.” These lighter snacks are perfect for pairing with drinks or noshing while you wait for all your friends to arrive. I was a big fan of the truffle Parmesan popcorn. A classic done right is always a great start.
From there, the small plates go all over the globe, literally. Seared day boat scallop and Panama shrimp with Anjou pear and habanero chutney featured a delicate blend of spices.
Grilled rockfish with curry creme fraiche and caviar was perfectly cooked and inventive. I particularly enjoyed the contrast of the crispy skin with the creamy curry sauce.
Zaragoza braised chicken breast had Mediterranean flavor influences. After consulting our trusty friend Google, my dining companion and I learned that Zaragoza is in fact a town in Spain. A ha!
Halibut ceviche on pineapple with spiced crisped banana chips took me somewhere hot and tropical.
General manager Rob Smith created the cocktail menu and focused on incorporating flavors that aren’t represented on a lot of other menus around town. The Chimborazo features Henrick’s gin, Thai sweet tea, Japanese yuzu juice, and blueberries tied together with fresh basil. I appreciated the fruity notes that were underscored by the more savory flavors from the tea.
The Brown’s Island is an herbal blend of bourbon infused with black peppercorns, rosemary, cloves, anise, cinnamon, and local honey barrel aged with peach-lemon hibiscus tea.
I didn’t get to sample the Libbie Hill, but diners around me were raving about the blend of Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey, homemade ginger simple syrup and yuzu juice served over a honey-ginger sphere with candied ginger.