Restaurant Review: A Picnik Fit for the Primal Diners of the Future
South Austin's new healthy-eating trailer
Reviewed by Jessi Cape, Fri., Aug. 16, 2013
Mon.-Fri., 7am-6pm; Sat., 8am-6pm; Sun., 8am-5pm
William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, although visionaries, probably never imagined a food trailer aimed at feeding both the Flintstones and the Jetsons. Picnik Austin is the most recent example of Austin's embrace of conscientious eating. Catering to customers with dietary restrictions and dedication to modern ancestral cuisine, the ultramodern trailer-in-a-box also focuses on futuristic sustainability methods with 100% compostable food packaging.
Bamboo mats, a picnic table, and shade sails rest near the grassy knoll where the tiny eatery's front wall opens to reveal air-conditioned counter service. Specializing in paleo, primal, gluten-free, grain-free, and healthy foods, the small breakfast and lunch menus also source many local, organic, and farm-to-table ingredients. More details of their dietary alternatives are available on their website; nutrient-dense freshness is the goal of every bite.
The Asian pork tenderloin salad ($13) was crispy and vibrant, featuring bell peppers, carrots, cabbage, and mixed greens with creamy orange honey cilantro dressing on the side. The nice portion of ginger apricot pork tenderloin was tender and juicy – a surprise given the salads are premade and refrigerated. One of the specials was pastured chicken and bacon with homemade paleo mayo, boxed with a side salad of mixed greens and berries, and basil Dijon balsamic dressing ($10). Given the heat, even iced coffee seemed intense, but I enjoyed the 16-ounce French-pressed coffee on ice with a splash of coconut milk ($3.50). Missing an opportunity to go local, Picnik uses Olympia Coffee Roasting Company, thereby dampening the odds of my return trip to sample their take on the Bulletproof or butter coffee trends. A vegan snickerdoodle made with almond flour ($1.50) – one of the "Sweet Cheats" on the dessert menu – was just the right balance of chewy and soft, sweet and a little salty.
I guzzled a refreshing 16-ounce bottle of green Fiji juice ($9), made with all organic vegetables and fruits. Because the fresh, cold-pressed concoctions are marketed as a feature, I was sorely disappointed to discover that recently Picnik suspended offering their own juices on tap in favor of California-based Suja Juice. Citing sourcing issues, a better price point, and their commitment to organic produce, their bottled choice is tasty, but my fingers are crossed for a return to house-made, local juices. Overall, everything Picnik Austin offers is palatable and pleasing, but the price points and slight missteps in product choices suggest quite a bit of potential still untapped.