From the first time I heard of Pignic Pub & Patio’s unique concept when it opened a few years ago, it struck me as kind of weird. Briefly, it’s a bar with multiple grilling stations outside where customers can grill meat they bring or purchase on site. Cooking at home isn’t really in my wheelhouse—I embrace the dishwasher role—and when we go out to eat, part of the reason is to have someone else take care of it all. Eating out is one thing, home cooked meals are another, and aside from some Asian places, cooking for yourself at a restaurant is atypical. I never bring meat when I go to a bar. Nevertheless, I’ve been curious. Having worked nearby for many years, and glad to see something breathe life into a handsome historic house in downtown Reno, I have long wanted to visit Pignic, so my wife and I decided to stop in for a drink before dinner on a recent Sunday.
After passing a group of young patrons enjoying beverages and board games out front and running a short gauntlet of cigarette smoke on the front porch of this grand 1920s home, my first reaction was disorienting. It’s not immediately clear where to go and I felt like I was going into a private residence, particularly since small groups were having their own little get-togethers in different parts of the property. Some food was laid out buffet style, baked beans and slaw, but it was unclear who it was for. I flashed back to crashing tailgate parties in college for the free food, only this felt a little more awkward.
I found the relatively small bar around a corner. Nearby was a welcome listing of about 20 draft beers, mainly quality craft options along with a few macro lagers. The back of the bar was a chaotic visual array of assorted spirits, wines and decor, ingredients for handcrafted cocktails lining the front. It felt like a snap decision, overwhelmed with stimuli, but a hazy IPA from Tahoe Mountain Brewing sounded good, and our friendly bartender had us served promptly. I wish I had considered a special cocktail, but I just felt like I needed to order something and get out of the way.
We took a corner of the large, otherwise vacant living room to sit with our drinks, familiar reggae playing overhead. I felt perplexed, pondering as people walked through who was staff and who was customer, and what clientele Pignic appeals to. I suppose urban apartment dwellers without a backyard of their own appreciate a communal grill with all the needed accessories and someone else to clean up afterward. Others perhaps want a space to entertain groups. We had to ask for details, and our bartender explained clearly and concisely. It’s not complicated, really. Bring or buy meat—they provide spices, utensils and the like—buy some drinks, grill it up, enjoy. We sipped our drinks while appreciating the old home and period decor, then decided to call it a night. We’ll play shuffleboard next time, maybe.
I never considered the missed opportunity of not naming it Pignic Bar and Grill until we were leaving. Come on, it’s literally a bar with grills! Still, bar and grill is already defined differently, so they probably didn’t want to confuse people. The “Patio” part of the name is apt, however, with plenty of outdoor space to be enjoyed, whether you grill or not. I still wrestle with the punny “Pignic”—even carnivores like me don’t always want to be reminded of the animal your food used to be.