Posh picnic food

Michelle Jones, a manager at the very un-Reno Tattum’s, serves up the Hwy 29 sandwich.

Michelle Jones, a manager at the very un-Reno Tattum’s, serves up the Hwy 29 sandwich.

Photo By David Robert

Just above the entrance inside Tattum’s at Juniper Hill is what looks like a science project or some kind of electrostatic generator. Definitely something out of a 1950s science fiction movie. One man’s work of art.

It seems someone had somewhere other than Reno in mind when they designed Tattum’s and named the restaurant’s dishes.

Michael and I split two hot sandwiches: the Zinfandel Lane ($6.50) and the Hwy 29 ($7.95). I wanted hot food, and the descriptions of these two sounded more alluring than their names. Zinfandel Lane was grilled aged cheddar and young asiago on sliced sourdough with oven roasted tomatoes. Hwy 29 was comprised of chicken, gruyere, pancetta, balsamic onions, Dijon mustard and mayonnaise on a baguette.

Each sandwich was served on an 18-inch round woven wicker picnic plate on a piece of wax paper with a side of cold pasta salad with vegetables.

A word about the seating: Just inside the door, as you stand under the electrocution device in the name of art, you have two choices in seating. To your right are five tall, round bar tables, each with two or three chairs. They’re very cute, but a little squished in the corner.

To the left, you’ll find a large oversized (this isn’t being redundant—it’s huge) couch, some matching oversized chairs and a glass coffee table with Tahoe and Oprah magazines displayed for your browsing pleasure. Behind one of the chairs is a table with a display of porcelain penguins and a big sign that the furniture is from Juniper Hill, the upscale furniture store just around the block.

We visited Tattum’s on a sunny Saturday, so early afternoon sunlight was pouring in through the windows behind the living room set and pleasantly warming us. The walls behind the tables on the other side were done in that pseudo-Tuscan look with one painted faded yellow and another rather gray and dark. The difference between those tables and where we were sitting was summer and winter.

Our big wicker plates took up a lot of room on the coffee table, but we watched a party of three try to fit three wicker plates on one of the dinky tables with little success. We lucked out with the couch seating.

The sandwiches were good, especially the Hwy 29 with its balsamic onions. The combination of flavors really pleased us. The asiago in the Zinfandel Lane was unfortunately overpowered by the cheddar.

Tattum’s is much more than just a place to be seen pretending you can afford Juniper Hill furniture: There’s a huge deli with a selection of a great variety of cheeses, pre-made deli dishes, cold sandwiches and salads. You can get a little bit of Napa Valley right here in south Reno.

Tattum’s also offers catering services, including picnic baskets to go. My favorite is the Merry Wives of Windsor ($60 for two people; $20 each additional person). The food is packed in a wicker basket and includes cheeses, seasonal fruits, assorted meats and pates, a baguette, olives, cornichons, mixed nuts, mustard and bottled water and chocolate truffles. Picnic season is just around the corner.