I’ve been doing a lot of takeout dining in the past couple of months, and I’m content with that. But I have one big problem with takeout: Unless I choose from a handful of restaurants within a five-minute drive from my house, my takeout dinner is likely to be lukewarm or worse by the time I get it on the table.
The solution is obvious, especially in summer time: Let’s have a picnic! Select a restaurant with a park nearby, grab your meal and hustle it to the nearest shady glen. Breakfast, lunch or dinner is served!
On the surface, this seems easy. Louisville is a city of parks, so there’s likely to be some public facility, large or small, within a few minutes of any eatery in town. But I’m picky. I want a picnic table, and I want it in the shade, preferably with a scenic view. I want to be able to get to that table quickly without a time-consuming hike from the parking lot.
This narrows the quest, but I still got scores of useful suggestions when I asked about eateries near parks on social media the other day. Just about every place along Bardstown Road in The Highlands is close to Cherokee Park, for example, but making a straight line to the nearest picnic table may be a challenge. Tyler Park might be a quicker pick.
In Schnitzelburg, tiny Emerson Park is a two-minute walk from Monnik Beer Co. and just about as close to the neighborhood’s many other eateries. River House and KingFish are an easy walk from the riverfront parks. The excellent fare at Galan’s Meat Market & Deli and other West End restaurants invite a quick trip to Shawnee Park. South End spots including the restaurants in Colonial Gardens plus Iroquois Pizza are a short walk from Iroquois Park.
And so it goes. It shouldn’t be hard to find a restaurant and park combination that’s just right for you. A light bulb went off over my head when I remembered that Oskar’s Slider Bar, a favorite, is just a couple of minutes away from George Rogers Clark Park.
A batch of Oskar’s delicious sliders stayed good and warm in their individual foil packets during the short trip, and we found an ideal spot under a big shade tree. For the record, Oskar’s is currently offering socially distanced patio tables and dining-in in addition to curbside service, but I was ready for a picnic.
The online menu is easy to use: Click “curbside” at the top of the page and briefly describe your car. We didn’t even have to phone in when we arrived: They saw us coming and brought our bagged meal right out.
There’s a choice of 13 sliders, all $3 or $3.50, plus an $8 lunch box with a choice of two chicken salad sliders, beet salad and lefse (Norwegian flatbread) chips. About 20 sides, including fries, meatballs, salads and sauces, are all under $6 apiece; most of the salads are only $2 for ample portions.
We enjoyed four sliders and two salads, quenched with a water bottle we brought ourselves; but, in retrospect, a few more sliders would not have been amiss. They’re tasty and fairly proportioned for the price, but it would have been easy to make room for more.
A corned beef ($3) slider was an impressive flavor treat. Two thick slices of juicy, properly fatty, bright-pink corned beef were topped with a smaller ration of fresh, gently sour kraut sprinkled with caraway seeds. The combination of flavors worked perfectly, and we’d have gladly eaten a half-dozen more.
We would have had to leave room for a few more halloumi cheese sliders ($3), too. This mild but pleasantly earthy goat and sheep cheese from Cyprus is traditionally grilled, a treatment that affords it a seductively crisp, sweet caramelized crust. Brushed with sesame tahini and topped with tart pickled red onion, it was a memorable treat.
The Minnesota Fish Fry ($3.50) features a delicious but undersized square of mild, flaky white cod, crisply breaded with crushed rye crackers and fried, topped with a dab of creamy slaw. It was a treat, but two or three bites finished it off. We’d have loved more.
Oskar’s veggie burger ($3) is a twin of the Grind Burger Kitchen veggie burger, a house-made patty fashioned from a healthy mix of chickpeas, lentils, quinoa and other veggies dressed with a slice of plum tomato and spicy tofu sauce.
Kale salad ($2) was built on roughly chopped raw kale, tossed with roasted pumpkin seeds and pickled red onion and lightly dressed with a sweet-sour smoked-onion vinaigrette.
Swedish Beet Salad ($2) was an unusual and really interesting item: Small cubes of beet and apple were mixed together with a creamy dressing until the beet juices colored the dish a uniform bright pink. The mix of crisp and crunchy apple and tender cooked beet with a chopped scallion garnish made a fascinating texture combination and a dash of cayenne added a gentle but attention-getting kick of heat.
Our picnic for two came to an affordable $17.49, plus a $10 tip because you can’t just kiss off a tip as a percentage on numbers that small.
Oskar’s Slider Bar
3799 Poplar Level Road