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