​Someone holds a picnic basket outside of Dinette Triple Crown. Right, A person sits on a blanket by a lake.

Someone holds a picnic basket outside of Dinette Triple Crown. Right, A person sits on a blanket by a lake.

Most Montreal restaurants offer dine-in or take-out, but Dinette Triple Crown goes one step further with a full-on picnic option. The eatery in Little Italy prepares baskets packed with Southern-style comfort food, like fried chicken and waffles, creamy mac 'n' cheese and buttery biscuits with gravy, that will warm your heart and soul.

Calling ahead on a Sunday morning, their super friendly staff took my order over the phone and confirmed what time I'd want my basket — most can be ready in as little as 15 minutes.

Dinette Triple Crown updates its menu every Wednesday, keeping its offerings fresh. The family option for $80 is a mainstay with 10 pieces of fried chicken, four biscuits, four sides, gravy, and four chocolate chip cookies. This week's sides ($4.25) were fried cornmeal hushpuppies, beans, mashed potatoes and cole slaw. Entrées included 'The Individual' ($21) featuring two pieces of fried chicken, a biscuit and gravy, a side, and a cookie, the 'Big Nasty' ($17), which is a fried chicken sandwich in a gravy-slathered biscuit, and the plate of chicken and waffles ($21). Their popular homemade mac 'n' cheese was available à la carte in a small ($13) or large ($22) portion.

The food menu at Dinette Triple Crown.The food menu changes weekly at Dinette Triple Crown.@sofsilva.mtl | Instagram

When I arrived at 2 p.m., my basket was waiting in their front window. It was topped with a classic red and white checkered picnic blanket. Inside were the two entrées I'd selected, along with a small mac 'n' cheese and a large mason jar of water and a couple of mini jars to use as cups. Two sets of forks and knives were wrapped in napkins, along with some hand wipes. Everything looked expertly arranged and the basket was well-balanced, albeit a bit heavy to carry.

I ordered a few extra ginger beers, made in front of me using homemade syrup and soda, which brought our order to around $80, and my partner and I left with quite the haul. We were told to return the basket, blanket and jars by 9 p.m.

Picnic basket from Dinette Triple Crown.@sofsilva.mtl | Instagram

There was no way to secure the basket to a Bixi, so we decided to walk to a nearby park. Across the street from the restaurant is Parc de la Petite-Italie, a charming green space with picnic tables and lots of tree cover, although not much grass. Jarry Park is a 15-minute walk in the opposite direction on rue Clark, and a personal favourite, so we ventured that way and found a picturesque spot by the water.

We brought two blankets from home for extra cushion, which was a good call since the provided cover is thin. It is the perfect touch to add that classic picnic feel though.

Our meal had generous portions and proved more than filling. The chicken and waffles were a particular highlight with three pieces of fried chicken paired with four savoury cheddar and chive waffles. The chicken was crispy with a peppery seasoning that offset the cheesy saltiness of the waffles. A spicy espelette maple syrup added just the right touch of sweetness.

The mac 'n' cheese also comes highly recommended with a flavourful house cheese blend, corkscrew-shaped pasta that's fun to eat and crispy cheese topping that adds texture. Along with two full entrées, even the small mac 'n' cheese felt like an ample serving.

In terms of sides, the hushpuppies were a fluffy mix of cornmeal and onions, kind of like cornbread but spicier and with a fried crunchy exterior. The biscuit was soft, flaky and buttery, and a perfect way to sop up the chicken-based gravy.

Two people sit on a picnic blanket by a lake.Two people sit on a picnic blanket by a lake.@sofsilva.mtl | Instagram

We also loved the Dinette Triple Crown homemade ginger beer ($4.50) to wash down the meal. It was like autumn in a glass — a mix of apple pie and gingerbread flavours that was refreshing and not overly sweet. Next time we'd probably try an Arnold Palmer ($4.50) to add the flavour of Southern iced tea to the meal.

For those looking for alcoholic options, the restaurant does have a long list of beers you can pair with your picnic, like a beet-based IPA from Boldwin Brewery ($11) or sour wheat beer by Loop ($11). There are also two ciders, the Hemingford for $11 and the Michel J for $9.

Food spread out on a blanket.Food spread out on a blanket.@sofsilva.mtl | Instagram

Overall, the picnic experience couldn't have been easier from start to finish and we ended our meal both full and relaxed.

Dinette Triple Crown seems aptly named and gets three crowns out of three from me for extra friendly service, excellent food quality and great value for a pre-packed picnic. Once you place your order with them, the only other thing you have left to plan is where to enjoy your feast.

Dinette Triple Crown

Where: 6704, rue Clark

Website

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