For 23 years, The Picnic Café has been serving “the world’s best chicken salad” (according to one loyal and well-traveled customer) and a full menu of lunch items from 4334 Harding Road, an address in the HG Hill Shopping Center that it shared for almost all of that time with Belle Meade Drugs. When word came that the shopping center (and Hill’s) was approaching its expiration date, tenants scrambled to find new digs. The drugstore moved to White Bridge Road and partnered with Martha Stamps, who opened Molly P’s on one side of the new pharmacy and gift store a few months ago. When Picnic’s roommate moved out, Bernice Denton, Queen of the Estate Sales, temporarily moved in. It’s not the first time the two have shacked up, says Picnic owner Kathy Bonnet; for three years, Picnic Express—a mini version of the Café—operated out of Denton’s Village Marketplace on 21st Avenue South.
Since Belle Meade Drugs moved in March, Bonnet has been looking for another location. One day away from signing a lease on a store in Belle Meade Plaza, she heard that the Laundromat building, in the same parking lot, was becoming available and she struck a deal. Bonnet is thrilled, she says, that she only has to move about 50 feet across the parking lot, though her mailing address will now be 4320 Harding Road. She takes possession on Oct. 16 and will have until Dec. 31 to get rid of the washers and dryers, gut the building and re-create The Picnic Café, with the same number of seats but a kitchen more than twice the size of the current one. She expects to open Jan. 2. Hours will remain the same: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Though Picnic doesn’t cook breakfast, it does accommodate about 20 or so members of a men’s breakfast club every morning of the week. —KAY WESTGreat Scott
Scott Alderson and fans of his food are still waiting on the chef’s next culinary assignment, but in the meantime folks can find the Billy Bob Thornton look-alike at the front door of Radius10. The recent and fairly sudden departure of original GM Brent Howard had chef/owner Jason Brumm placing a 911 call to his old pal, and Alderson (formerly of 6°, Saffire and Layl’a Rul) is now assisting his former sous chef by overseeing the front of the house. There is plenty to oversee these days, since Radius10 recently began serving lunch (11 a.m. to 2 p.m.), added a new tapas menu for the bar and patio, and will soon be turning some unused space into a private dining area, hopefully in time to book holiday parties. Meanwhile, from his perch in The Gulch, Alderson can keep an eye on the Union Station Hotel, which is in the midst of a multimillion-dollar renovation, including a redesign and revamp of the corner restaurant space last occupied by Arthur’s. The new owners have yet to announce what restaurant concept will occupy that prime location, though Alderson is considered a strong candidate. —KAY WESTHeated competition
Salsa varieties from sweet to smoky hot and everything in between could be found at this year’s Chili Pepper Festival Salsa Contest at the Nashville Farmers Market. Nashvillians Stephen Clyne and Bryan Rahn teamed up to take home the crown, with a zesty concoction that featured onions, tomatoes, garlic, lime juice, jalapeño and the secret ingredient—white vinegar—all blended in a food processor. Rick Ousley’s “Ousley Ouch Salsa” came in a close second. —JACK SILVERMAN