When you ask the creative team behind Jeffrey’s, one of Austin’s finest and most stylish dining establishments to share their ideas for the makings of the perfect spring picnic, don’t expect anything ordinary. Think martini bar cart service…from a red Radio Flyer wagon or melt-in-your mouth raspberry macarons filled with strawberry jam and rose water chantily cream served on Heath Ceramics dishes. Executive Chef Rebecca Meeker and Creative Director Ryan Smith guided us through a dreamy day at the park and shared helpful tips on how to elevate your next picnic outing. And on the subject of picnics, Austinites should join Team Camille Styles this Saturday night at the Waller Creek Pop-Up Picnic, a community-wide picnic in the park for an exciting cause for the city. We hope you enjoy these tips for bringing some special details to your next frolic in the grass, and as always, the most important ingredient for a successful picnic is being with the ones you love most!
photography by nicole mlakar
Our picnic models (and real life couple) Daniel and Claire relax under the sun before the picnic begins. Jeffrey’s Executive Chef Rebecca Meeker says her ideal picnic would take place on a Sunday afternoon on Hog Island north of San Francisco. She elaborates: “Eating oyster on the half shell, salmon rillette with tarragon mustard on a baguette, drinking Chateau Simone out of GoVino glasses while sitting on a Mexican serape blanket and playing horseshoes on the beach.” Can we come?
Staley and Jordan haul their picnic fixings from the car to the park in a red Radio Flyer wagon. Ryan Smith, the Creative Director for all the McGuire Moorman restaurants, suggests bringing along a portable record player. “The older and more beat up it is, the better,” he says. “Think records like early rockin’ Etta James, S.E. Rogie, John Lee Hooker, Rolling Stones and Minnie Riperton.”
What’s on Jeffrey’s picnic menu? Foie gras and duck confit terrine served with grapefruit marmalade and brioche toast (pictured). Meeker suggests some other items to complete your spread—oak grilled Kobe beef tenderloin served with fennel and green garlic gribiche, chilled lobster and potato salad topped with rosemary and poppy vinaigrette and charred carrots with green cardamom caramel.
Heath Ceramics are always one of Smith’s favorites, but he also suggests using custom Homer Laughlin plating and cheese/charcuterie knives from Laguiole as elegant vessels for you picnic treats.
It all begins with the blanket. In Austin, Smith recommends JM Drygoods for a plethora of stunning, imported textiles and always loves the selections from Pendleton, the Hill-Side and Indigo Fera. Special touches as simple as bringing along Malin & Goetz or P.F. Candle Co. candles for a candlelit dinner under the stars make a world of difference in creating an atmosphere.
Jeffrey’s worked with hand letterer Carolyn Jane to create this custom flag that will mark the just the right spot for a Jeffrey’s picnic.
Smith played the part of bartender for our day at the park and shared his martini recipe—two ounces of Junipero gin stirred ice cold and poured into a chilled martini glass lined with Doulin dry vermouth. Serve with a lemon twist.
Smith transported all the mixings for an on-the-go martini bar reminiscent of the restaurant’s old school martini cart that travels from table-to-table in the red Radio Flyer that he then set up on a silver tray.
One of Smith’s duties as the Creative Director, in addition to selecting all the music played in each restaurant and much more, is designing the staff uniforms. He is pictured wearing Jeffrey’s bartender ensemble. “We wanted that refined, classic fine dining/luxury hotel service look but wanted to modernize it and add some humor,” he says. “A white blazer seems so definitive of hosting an elegant cocktail party or evening for guests, and we modernized with making a single row double-breasted coat.”
Smith found inspiration for the Jeffrey’s uniforms from Robert Redford’s costumes in The Great Gatsby, the bartender costumes in the film, The Shining, and “any and every thing featured in The Royal Tenenbaums.”
When it comes to dressing for the day, Smith suggests having fun with it. “Think about where you are going and dress accordingly. Picnic on the beach? Then, wear a fun floral print dress and leather sandals with a great, big hat and sunglasses (the more eccentric, the better),” he says. “Guys…think short sleeve plaid button-downs, khakis rolled up to the shins and leather shoes (with no socks).”