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Nicoise Salad in the Metro Area??

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  • MLP Mar 25, 2006 05:27 PM
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It seems that I get the same craving around this time of year...

Does anyone recommend a really fresh and excellent Nicoise Salad in the DC/VA/MD area?

Now, I realize that there is the traditional and non-traditional meaning...
Canned or Fresh Grilled.
I really don't mind about the tuna as long as it doesn't taste like an over-processed canned fillet or worse over-cooked. In addition, I look for an excellent dressing, fresh anchovies and/or excellent baby green beans. Another plus is perfectly soft potatoes (again, red or white I don't mind)
I look for the perfect blend of FRESH earthy greens and a nice salty water sea-blend. oh, and an egg that won't bounce... ;)
Anyone know of a new or recently changed menu that includes the salad that you would recommend?
Thanks in advance!

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  1. Just to clarify: traditional salada nissarda is a salad of vegetables with olive oil. Packed tuna and hard boiled eggs are commonly added. The vegetables should be according to the season, but a popular mix would be tomato, cucumber, onion, olive, green pepper, fava, artichoke. Never green bean, rice, potato, lettuce.

    I have not had a good version in years, and I hate the version at Johnny's Half Shell.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Steve

      There is much bombast and posturing on this subject (but would we expect anything less from a discussion of a "traditional" French preparation). Some purists agree about no potatoes or green beans. But my copy of Larousse, and Julia, both call for them. Olney (Simple French Food, considered by many as definitive) cautions against slavish adherence to composed salad formulas and suggests playfullness and use of whatever is on hand. It seems to me that, given the evolution of this preparation, they ought to be OK. I suspect that's what the OP had in mind.

      That said, I'm not sure where one could reliably go to get a good one. Places like Les Halles probably have it on the menu but the quality is a crapshoot. If I had such a jones I'd call Gerard (202-737-4445) and ask him if he'd put a nice one together for me. He might be so taken with the request that he'd do something really special. Bistro 123 in Tyson's would be another possibility.

      1. re: johnb

        It is on the Les Halles menu, and it's eh--passable. It's a grilled filet version, and while the dressing is nice, the veggies on their own weren't well-seasoned.

        Hm. Now you've got me craving one, and I don't know where to go either!

        1. re: johnb

          Most nicoise salads I have had lately include green beans and potatoes---including the multiple versions I have had throughout France over the years.

      2. I had an excellent Nicoise Salad a few months ago at La Chaumiere (spelling?) on M Street in Georgetown. Very elegant and delicious. The only drawback was the person at the table next to us smoking.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Lisa H

          My absolute favorite is at Bistro Bis on
          Capital Hill (15 E St.) which is called the MARCHÉ DE TOULON salad - an assortment fresh market vegetables and provençale salads with rosemary aïoli. Fabulous.

        2. I think the Les Halles version is perfectly passable. They used to use canned tuna, but have been serving seared fresh tuna lately (w/o increasing the price). I think it's a steal for lunch, especially considering the pretty decent french bread that's served with it.

          It isn't like being in France, but it definitely satisfies my cravings.

          1. I am restarting this thread in hopes there is a new place in the DC area.

            Again, I'm not particular about "traditional" or "non-traditional" meaning:
            - grilled vs. canned tuna
            - type(s) of olive (nicoise would be nice but a mix or something close works)
            - vegetables or lettuces used (although I do enjoy potatoes and green beans)
            - fresh anchovies, preserved or none

            However, I am particular about one thing; the dressing should be a close approx of the traditional style. (vinegar, Dijon mustard, lemon, salt/pepper, etc.) Thanks!

            1. I had a really good nicoise salad this weekend at Cafe Bonaparte in Georgetown. It is fresh tuna served rare. It was really delicious. They have an herbed yogurt-based dressing which was a nice, unique touch.

              My other favorite place to go for nicoise salad is L'Enfant in Adams Morgan. Sitting outside with this salad and a beer is pure joy! L'Enfant's version is more traditional with good quality canned tuna.