For the Love of God, Don’t Buy Davio’s $95 Picnic Basket
While summer doesn’t officially start till next week, it’s definitely picnic season in the city’s parks and green spaces. Lounging on the grass for some al fresco dining is the perfect way to enjoy a lazy afternoon or break up your workday.
The folks at the Center City location of Northern Italian steakhouse chain Davio’s think so, too: They’re offering picnic baskets loaded up with sandwiches, salads, desserts, and sparkling or still water for two through August. Call an hour beforehand and you can swing by their location on South 17th Street — just two quick blocks from the excellent greenery and people-watching at Rittenhouse Square — to pick up your basket.
Which costs $95.
Allow me to reiterate: lunch for two, from a chain restaurant whose chef hawks frozen spring rolls and quesadillas on QVC, costs just short of a hundred bucks. Service, tables, chairs, walls, roof, and air conditioning not included.
But wait, there’s more: this offer goes from “smh” to “omfg” levels of ridiculous when you realize that, on top of the 95 American dollars Davio’s expects you to spend on the food — options include Caesar salad, a chicken parm sandwich, and berries and cheese for dessert — you have to pay a $25 picnic basket deposit, too. They refund it once you bring the basket back, of course. You didn’t really think you’d get to keep the picnic basket you just dropped a Benjamin on, did you?
For whom is this offer? I can’t conceive of a target customer who would be excited to drop $120 on caprese salad and berries and then schlep two blocks back to the restaurant to make sure they don’t get screwed on the deposit.
Look, no shame if you want to eat at Davio’s. (The Philly Cheese Steak Spring Rolls® sound perfectly crushable — sadly, they’re not included in the basket.) But you could feed five times as many Rittenhouse picnickers for the same price they’re asking by procuring your outdoor eats from one of the awesome independent restaurants within walking distance, like Poi Dog, Baology, Hip City Veg, or any number of solid food carts in the area.
Or, if you want to splurge a little, get a couple rolls from Luke’s Lobster and brown bag some IPAs (a.k.a what I wish I could be doing while writing this post) for less than half the price of this Davio’s racket. Hell, get an outdoor table and eat at Parc and you’ll get more value for your money. You’ll still get to enjoy the weather and people watch, and you won’t even have to sit on the ground.
My personal recommendation for a delicious Italian-inflected picnic in Rittenhouse? Sock away most of that hundo in your savings account and go see the friendly mongers at DiBruno Bros. They’ll set you up real nice with a couple of quality wedges and maybe a jar of fig jam and some olives or fresh fruit and a baguette, which you can then take to the park and enjoy in a leisurely — and financially prudent — fashion. (Metropolitan Cafe, with its selection of excellent local cheeses, is also acceptable.)
And when you’re done lounging in the grass, you and your date can get on with your lives, because you made good choices that mean you don’t have to add “get back deposit for incredibly overpriced picnic basket” to your list of things to do today.