Picasso’s Grill, located in the Publix shopping center on County Line Road, is busy putting the final touches on a menu that is designed to make Valentine’s Weekend of 2016 most memorable. Remember, guys, this is Leap Year, (when old Irish tradition allows a woman to propose to a man) so be prepared to be swept off your feet by your feminine companion as well as the food. Turn around is fair play, too, during a holiday where “all is fair in love and war,” so let the games begin!
Picasso’s is also in the process of rolling out a brand new menu, but for the purposes of this article, we are going to highlight the Valentine’s menu.
There will be three new appetizers, and I can speak from experience that it is easy to have a trio of Picasso’s appetizers function as a complete meal. The first is a seared Ahi tuna filet, carefully placed on a sliced cucumber, topped with shaved ginger, scallions, and finished with a Ponzu sauce. Ponzu is a citrus soy sauce traditionally used in Japanese cuisine. For Wasabi lovers, there will be wasabi encircling the dish, artfully presented.
For something a tad heartier, you can choose beef short ribs served over a homemade cheddar grit cake, and topped with Bolognese sauce. Bolognese, (pronounced bolone-YEZ-uh) is a beef reduction sauce with a touch of marinara, vegetables and cheese. The cheddar grit cake makes it truly Southern.
Last on the special appetizer list is the artichoke stuffed with three cheeses: cream cheese, goat cheese, and asiago.
Talking with Picasso’s owner, Matthew Crawford, about the Valentine’s entrees made my mouth water, and I was a “goner” by the time we got to dessert!
My all time favorite meat is lamb, something we don’t typically see a lot of in the South. Picasso’s is going to offer a French rack of lamb, individually portioned “cooked to perfection,” Matt says, served over a roasted rosemary potato, with honey glazed carrots, and for a garni, mint jelly.
For seafood lovers, an ample portabella mushroom is going to be stuffed with generous lumps of crab, fired in the oven, served with Ratatouille and smashed, fried mozzarella.
If you are more of a traditionalist, there will be prime rib with all of the trimmings including fresh horseradish, homemade au jus, and a twice baked potato. If you are feeling adventuresome, there is hardly more of an elegant entree than duck à l’orange served in a Grand Mariner sauce, which is the last of the entrees to round out the special menu.
As lovers of Picasso’s are well aware, the fresh produce and meats are procured as often as possible from local sources, and everything is made there at the restaurant. Supporting our local economy is very important to Matt and his wife Michelle, who started Picasso’s in Athens in 2012 before moving to the larger location in Madison last fall.
Then we came to the desserts. All of them will be home made, and I think it will nearly possible to experience “death by chocolate” if you don’t exercise some restraint.
There will be strawberries dipped in dark and white chocolate. The sorbet will be made from blood orange, raspberries, and strawberries, and will be served with some fancy French cookies, which of course will have some chocolate on them as part of the experience. Matthew decided on a triple chocolate trifle, topped with Bailey’s cream.
If having the chance to celebrate the holiday on Friday the 12th through Sunday the 14th is not enough for you, on Sunday morning and afternoon of Valentine’s Day itself Picasso’s will be offering what they are calling a “Lover’s Brunch.” All kinds of romantic sounding and delicious items will be offered, starting with French Kiss Toast, chicken and waffles, eggs Benedict, (either made with the traditional Canadian bacon or wild salmon), with mimosas and Picasso’s signature Bloody Mary, which is nearly a meal in itself.
I can truly say that a great deal of thought, work, and creativity is going into this Leap Year Valentine’s celebration, and while I was there observing the “artist at work,” Matthew received a call for a very large reservation for the event. Word is getting around quickly in regard to the “local treasure” that is Picasso’s Grill, and I would strongly recommend that you make your reservation soon.
Picasso’s is a place that is family owned, family friendly, a place that is like “Cheers,” and, in short, one which will make you cheer on Valentine’s Day in 2016.
12060 County Line Road, Madison, AL 35756
Hours: 11-11, Tue-Sun, 3-11 on Mon
Facebook: Picasso’s Grill
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner