Al fresco: best picnic spots

Originally published in Buffalo Spree magazine, June 2013 

Sushi at the Japanese Garden

To set the stage for a serene Japanese spread, order takeout from Kuni’s (226 Lexington Ave.,, and make your way to the Japanese Garden, located along Hoyt Lake behind the Buffalo History Museum. Try wasabi shumai, the Sashimi 21—the chef’s selection of thinly sliced sashimi, avocado, and capers topped with yuzu-marinated onions and jalapeños—and a small sushi combo. Don’t forget to order some house green tea.

It will be easy to find a peaceful place to enjoy your dinner at the picturesque garden. Sit on a blanket, s ip tea, and take in the serene surroundings that provoke deep relaxation from even the most impervious souls. Lush greenery and magnificent rockery complement one another and provide an atmosphere of romance ideal for an unhurried evening filled with quiet conversation. Unwind after your meal and listen to the lake, enjoy the shade of tall trees, and watch the ducks paddle softly among the lily pads. After a while, you might forget that you’re in Buffalo, but once you remember, you’ll appreciate the garden keepers’ thoughtful Japanese trappings even more.


Globe Market at Hoyt Lake

Head to Elmwood’s Globe Market (762 Elmwood Ave., for tasty sandwiches and salads to share. Try the house salad, which is loaded with mesclun greens, dried apricots and cranberries, caramelized nuts, and chevre; or the Caprese sandwich, the roast beef on baguette with Brie, green apple, arugula, and horseradish mayonnaise. Glutenfree bread is available, too.

With food in tow, take the short walk to Hoyt Lake, which is adjacent to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and part of Scajaquada Creek. Find a cozy spot on the grass to spread a blanket, and eat at an easygoing pace while you listen to bird chirps mingled with the sounds of park guests playing catch.

If you tire of sitting, take a rowboat or paddle boat out on the water (available for rental from 11a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesdays through Sundays, from late June into September), or simply stroll along the water’s edge on the path encircling the lake. Venture beyond the perimeter of the lake and check out the nearby Rose Garden or let the child in you take over at the playground. When nice weather abounds, you don’t need much else to relish the splendor of Hoyt Lake and Delaware Park.


Bring your own at Niawanda Park

Pack up your bicycles along with a picnic and head to Niawanda Park in Tonawanda, which overlooks the Niagara River. Your nutritious and delicious meal could feature Greek chicken lettuce wraps that can be assembled in a jiffy. At the Lexington Co-op (807 Elmwood Ave.,, grab some bulk raw nuts for a snack, an assortment of berries for a healthy dessert, and some coconut water to keep you hydrated. Then select a small head of romaine lettuce, large heirloom tomato, small red onion, cucumber, feta cheese, roasted chicken, and Greek dressing. Let Lexi’s Kitchen—which prepares the market’s carryout cuisine food—handle cooking the chicken to save you time. When you get home, just chop, wrap, and pack, and you’ll be on your way.

At the park, find a place near the water—either a grassy spot, picnic table, or bench—to have lunch before hopping on your bikes. Adventure seekers can travel farther from the waterfront and explore the Two Mile Creek Greenway, a bike trail that curves down Two Mile Creek Road, which is easily accessed from Niawanda Park. Be sure to head back toward the water before dusk because this vantage point offers a consistently beautiful sunset.

About Nina

Nina lives in Buffalo, NY. An adventurous home cook, she loves to eat, cook, bake & enjoy life. She writes/blogs about food, tweets adventures & other passions.

01. September 2013 by Nina
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