South Congress Cafe: Wa­ter­melon Salad

4700 S. Congress Ave. 851-9300, www. south­con­gress­

Austin American-Statesman - - FOOD & DRINK - — M.O.

You’re walk­ing down Congress Av­enue on a mur­der­ously hot sum­mer af­ter­noon. The

Capi­tol blurs in the heat waves on the hori­zon. You be­gin to won­der when the desert added cute vin­tage shops and food trail­ers as you long for respite from the ra­di­at­ing con­crete side­walks. Duck­ing into the South Congress Cafe, you’re im­me­di­ately greeted by a blast of cold air as wel­come as the res­tau­rant’s sooth­ing white table­tops. The only dish ap­pro­pri­ate for the op­pres­sive oc­ca­sion — the Wa­ter­melon Salad ($10) — catches your eye, and you re­al­ize that pic­nics weren’t just meant to be ap­pre­ci­ated al fresco. The bright red cubes of sweet melon atop mixed greens pro­vide an im­me­di­ate burst of fla­vor, their juices adding to the bright, re­fresh­ing le­mon-mint vinai­grette dress­ing. The light bite of red onions keeps the fruit from over­pow­er­ing your palate like a sug­ary soda. Both the sweet and spice, along with the wa­ter­melon’s coarse tex­ture, are mel­lowed won­der­fully by a soft, chunky feta cheese crum­bled lib­er­ally. I like to add grilled shrimp ($7 ex­tra), be­cause its sweet, charred crunch en­hances both the tex­ture and fla­vor of the salad, mak­ing it the per­fect culi­nary sal­va­tion from the Texas heat.

Mike Sut­ter

East­side Cafe adds crunchy cab­bage to its chicken salad as well as toasted peanuts.

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