Stand-up sal­ads

At restau­rants where fla­vor, tex­ture and ‘wow’ fac­tor count, go­ing green has its re­wards

Austin American-Statesman - - FOOD & DRINK - By Mike Sut­ter and Matthew Odam Amer­i­can-States­man staff

Res­tau­rant sal­ads get no re­spect. Not that they de­serve it. Most of them seem like morn­ing-prep clock­work, ex­er­cises in shop­ping and as­sem­blage rather than the mea­sure of a top-flight kitchen. There’s too much of an ‘I could do this at home’ fac­tor. But re­ally? Could you re­ally? Sure. Raid the store, the mar­ket, the neigh­bor’s gar­den. Buy Ro­maine, leaf, Bibb. Get radishes, toma­toes, herbs, ap­ples, car­rots, olives, av­o­ca­dos, pe­cans, pep­pers, le­mon. Sort through the cheese. (How do these fla­vors go to­gether again?) Buy chicken, salmon, duck. Grill it. Roast pep­pers and beets. Prep the veg­gies. Rus­tle up bread, muffins, chips. Make dress­ing from scratch. Re­mem­ber where you put the pep­per grinder.

There. Three hours and $47 later, a first­class res­tau­rant salad.

The sal­ads in this story bring to­gether sur­pris­ing fla­vors, col­ors and tex­tures. They in­cor­po­rate the bounty of sum­mer. And they show that even in the hottest kitchen, a salad can earn a lit­tle re­spect just by play­ing it cool.

ON THE COVER clock­wise, from top left: an Ital­ian Chopped Salad from Leaf on Sec­ond Street in Austin; an Heirloom Tomato Salad (toma­toes, moz­zarella, basil oil, basil and greens) from the Grove Wine Bar and Kitchen near Austin; the Mexi-Cobb Salad from Chuy’s on Barton Springs Road; Thai Chicken Salad at East­side Cafe. (Pho­tos by Mike Sut­ter and Matthew Odam)

Mike Sut­ter pho­tos

Matthew Odam

Clock­wise from top left: The Thum­balina Salad from Jef­frey’s, the Ap­ple Buzios salad from Rio’s Brazil­ian Cafe, the Wa­ter­melon Salad with grilled shrimp from the South Congress Cafe and the Farm­ers Mar­ket Salad with grilled salmon from An­nies Cafe and Bar.

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