salad: caesar, cobb, and chopped
Where can I find a caesar where I won't be warned off by a menu that announces:
'with chicken or shrimp'
or by a waiter who replies:
'they're in the dressing, but you can't really taste them'
'do you want cheese on that?'
or takes a supercilious attitude because he tosses tableside, the 'authentic' way
or by a plate that arrives cold, rusty, dressing on the side or 'garnished' with tomatoes????
Answer: in my dreams?
As a new (2 years, but I've only now been subpoenaed for my NY license) and only recently less reluctant Angeleno, I'd also appreciate some advice on chopped and cobb. Are hard-boiled eggs really mandatory??
re: Leslie Brenner
And as where to get them--as mentioned before, I think, the best Caesars in town are made by Manny, the waiter who works the Hollywood Boulevard side of the counter in the main dining room at Musso & Frank.
The best surving Cobb salad is probably the variant known as the McCarthy salad served at the Polo Lounge in the Beverly Hills Hotel, although you can get a very servicable version at any of the Daily Grill restaurants. (Ask for it without the egg if you like--I do.)
And in Los Angeles, ``chopped salad'' has a rather specific meaning: a cold-cut-intensive chopped Italian salad as used to be served at the old La Scala Boutique on Little Santa Monica in Beverly Hills, and is still served, I believe, at the eponymous descendant of that restaurant on Beverly or Canon. Unless, of course, context indicates that ``chopped salad'' refers instead to the amazing salad of chopped Chino vegetables that used to be the most popular dish at the original Spago.
Having had my first Caesar salad at Caesar's Hotel and my second Caesar salad made by a fanatic purist (this is back in the day when raw eggs could be eaten without fear), I find that Caesar salads usually give me great grief so I usually foreswear them. Even M&F's used too much dressing for my taste.
Ah but chopped . . . So far I have found only one chopped salad that is worth eating (and delightfully affordable): Wolfgang Puck's Cafe.
My new favorite salad is the mixed green at Cuvee (Third and Robertson). The dressing is just incredible - the perfect counterpoint to the field greens, roasted corn kernals and avocado. I suggested to the owner that he should bottle the dressing. He rolled his eyes, sighed and said, "Have you any idea of how much red tape is involved in packaging foods?"
As a Caesar purist, I second Musso & Frank's. For high end -- I think Nick & Stef's downtown prepares a near-perfect Caesar.