Although we most frequently home-cook our picnics for the Hollywood Bowl or get boxed picnics to-go (excellent from Bistro Garden) we've been entertaining clients in our box this summer and have ordered from the Patina Group's concession 4 times so far. Here's the verdict: not bad at all (for the most part).
The tables are pre-set with white cloths and napkins, and stainless flatware. Once we got tacky blue oilcloth tablecloths. Salt & pepper comes in paper packets (only the Pool boxes get real shakers). The sourdough rolls are pretty good with a good crust and are warmed. The server will bring additional warm rolls with your mains. The service is very professional - close your eyes and you could be in a top-flight restaurant. They have a well-oiled team of servers and runners, hot items were hot and cold were cold. Everything comes from the same catering kitchen at the east side of the Bowl so the closer you are to the east the hotter your food will be, I suspect. Service began promptly at 7:15 as requested.
The a la carte menu is a little more limited than last year (they eliminated the osso buco) and you cannot substitute from the 3-course menu to the a la carte (I really wanted the salmon tartare duo, cured & smoked, with egg salad and American sturgeon, but no dice). You can substitute mashed potatoes for other kinds. As in a restaurant the check is presented at the end of the meal, and the server will help you dismantle your tables.
Now the chow. You order either by phone or fax by 4:00 pm the day before your show; they don't accept changes after that time. They'll fax you a confirmation which should be read closely. The rotisserie chicken with thyme and garlic and "super" mashed potatoes ($19.75) is very good. Crispy skin and moist and juicy inside. The potatoes are tasty with some chunks, but needed S&P badly. Also came with sauteed broccoli which was al dente but needed S&P. It is the only chicken dish on the menu and one time I simply ordered "the chickern," thinking that I'd get rotisserie, but I ended up with a baked half chicken with an unfortunate dijon mustard sauce; dry and pretty disgusting. The chilled grilled shrimp salad with coriander-corn slaw ($15.00) should be 86'd. Four pretty good sized shrimp are overcooked and very tough. Not too much shrimp flavor. The slaw is very tasty with a good balance between the corn and the coriander. The only thing good I can say about the roasted garlic hummus with marinated olives and pine nuts ($7.75) is that the olives are excellent - both oil and brine cured. The hummus had no discernable garlic and was dry and floury. 8 pita triangles were toasted to very crispy and cold. The caesar salad ($8.75) is excellent, with cold, crisp romaine. Only it's not tossed and you add your own dressing from a little container. The salad consequently is not soggy but also it's not evenly coated with dressing. The dressing isn't as good as your own but still had good garlic and anchovy flavor and is nice and tangy. The oakwood planked salmon with a bacon/apple crust and savoy cabbage ($24.50) is a consistent winner, all but one time served medium-rare as requested. A generous portion. The potato looked like a baked potato without the skin, nicely browned but flavorless. The chicken sausage lasagna ($18.25) also is a winner. Very generous slab of tasty lasagna, served piping hot. Prety good sauce and tasty sausage. I didn't taste the chilled cucumber soup ($7.50) but 3 others did, eating every last drop. The smoked salmon plate with cucumber, heirloom tomato and yuzu ($18.95) is a very generous serving of salmon which is very good and not dried out. The tomato was Cherokee Purple and delicious. Last, but far from least, are the hotdogs ($3.75) available from the concession stand. We got conflicting reports as to whether they're house-made by Patina (unlikely) or Hebrew National (more probable) but either way they're spicy and juicy with a roll that has character. Bring your own squeeze botle of mustard as they only have those frustrating little packets.
Overall, the prices are in line with dine-in prices but if you order water or wine it will get out of hand. Even though it seems a bit pricy for "picnic" dining it *is* very convenient, with competant dishes professionally presented.