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SD Dish of the Month - September 2013 [Salad]

As you may (or more likely, may not) know, Dish of the Month Uber-Dictator CSTR has declared me winner of the hard-fought bidding contest for the position of DotM Sous-Dictator for September, October, and November, 2013.

[People look at one another perplexed. Low-level murmuring]

It was an exhausting campaign, but somehow I prevailed. To all my financial backers and donors, and my Mom, a big thank you.

[Groans can be heard]

Sooo...I humbly accept!

[Polite applause mixed with a scattering of boos in the background]

For September, the Dish of the Month is....

[Drum rolls. Crowd grows very still.]


[Loud applause and cheering]

Any kind of prepared (as opposed to build-your-own) restaurant salad is fair game; Greek, Nicoise, Ceaser, Papaya, Crab Louie, Cobb...

[Shouts of "Whatever!!" interrupt]

[Crowd escalates into hysterical rapture and raucous revelry]

No fair starting before it’s actually September, though!

[Loud boos and hisses followed by murmuring, dying down as people walk out]

Have fun!

[The Sous-Dictator waves to an empty room]

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  1. Nice! Great post...giving FN a run for his money in humor.

    1. [Groans can be heard], This was FN.

      1 Reply
      1. Terrible idea for a Dish of the Month. It's probably not too late to "toss" it.

        Puns 1, Salads 0

        Someone had to...

        3 Replies
            1. re: Stiflers_Mom

              I'm getting dressed up for this one...

            2. But seriously, folks...

              I appreciate the choice, and already have the Perfect Candidate.

              I assume as long as I don't write about it in August, it's fair game.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Fake Name

                Hmmmm...let me check the rulebook.

                Page 273, it says here....hmmmm...

                Yep, looks like that's legit. I say go for it, FN!

              2. I guess I won't be disappointed as the regular Chowhounds fulfill their monthly dish of the month recs with the cry: "Lettuce Entertain You!"...<smirk>

                1 Reply
                1. re: LisaSD

                  Yes, and in case there are any quarrels, someone can always jump in and say "Lettuce Have Peas!" <smirk, smirk>

                2. I love the Pear Salad on fresh greens at Hanna's Gourmet (see photo). It has a light vinaigrette with hazelnuts and Craisins. Only served at lunchtime unless you ask real nicely for Hanna to make it for you for dinner too.

                  Tender Greens (locations at Liberty Station, UTC and downtown) still make some of the freshest salads around (with or without a protein of flank steak, chicken or ahi).

                  I haven't tried it but my husband loved the Stone Fruit salad at Neighborhood downtown. I don't know if that is a seasonal item but he's been jonesing to go back for another one. I'll find out...

                  1. I highly recommend the charred green bean salad at Sea&Smoke.

                    1. OK did a Salad crawl...it is like a beer crawl but less fun. First is Swami's Tropical Shrimp Salad. I don't know what makes it tropical but it was good and fresh. Usually I blow through all the protein on a salad and then am kinda mmmm. but they kept it interesting. Second up was the Caprese at The Privateer. The third was a one off at Grilling with the Masters at Twenty/20 Bar and Grill Carlsbad. It was a Grilled Watermelon salad with Feta and flash pickled onions. One of the best salads I have had tied with the Panzanella salad at Animal in LA.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: chris2269

                        Is that some type of toasted bread stick with the shrimp salad? The others are too good looking.

                        1. re: chris2269

                          I like the presentation of the Caprese.

                        2. Okay, my turn to play. Two classics

                          Caesar Salad


                          (Organic) Spinach Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette, fresh strawberries and (canned) Mandarin oranges

                          Both were good.

                          Caesar was made tableside. Classic salad made in classic style at the original location. Better this time than last.

                          Spinach salad was good, the raspberry vinaigrette was delish, but by the end of the overdressed salad it was a little on the sweet side, the sweetness being aided and abetted by the perfectly ripe strawberries and (throwback to childhood) canned mandarins.

                          Both were served at a recent lunch at the Hotel Caesar 5th and Ave. Revo

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: DiningDiva

                            I love Spinach as a green and a true Caesar. Great call.

                          2. Bending the rules a bit here, but the best salad experience I've had in SD is the tableside Caesar at Blind Burro.

                            Foodiechick- how was it when you went?

                            5 Replies
                              1. re: Fake Name

                                My salad experience for this thread is a recent "grumble". Had a very nice pre-theater dinner at a popular place on Fifth Ave. that is equally famous for its noise level as its goat cheese stuffed squash blossoms. The one caveat to the "nice" label being the salad we ordered: Arugula and heirloom tomato with shaved parmesan and 18-year-old balsamic. I have ordered an heirloom tomato and arugula salad at this establishment before and it consisted of thick, meaty slices of perfectly ripe heirlooms with a sprinkling of arugula, wide shavings of parmesan and drizzles of thick, syrupy balsamic. This was not that salad.

                                We were brought a small plate of tangled arugula with a tiny amount of minutely grated parmesan in the middle. Wait, where is my sliced summer fruit nervana? There were four...4...cuatro, 1/2-inch-chopped pieces tossed beneath the arugula. No balsamic, 18-year or otherwise.


                                1. re: foodiechick

                                  Curious, why are you keeping said name anonymous? Does FN have to go and waste his hard earned dollars to tell us the music was wonderful?

                                    1. re: honkman

                                      Or has a TOU conflict that prohibits discussion.

                                      Yet appreciates speculation without facts. It's like reverse clairvoyance.

                              2. Had the Spinach Salad with Crab at Lobster West and thought it was very good. Huge chunks of sweet crab on top of a bed of spinach with strawberries and some very mild goat cheese. Poppy seed dressing was listed as home-made and was very sweet, bordering on too sweet for me and I tend to like things sweeter than most.

                                Overall, we had an enjoyable meal and will post some more details on the Lobster West thread. Would definitely recommend it.

                                1. I was pleasantly surprised by the seared ahi salad at Karl Strauss downtown. Lots of large pickled ginger slices, fresh greens, and and a nice "citrus vinaigrette", among other things. The fish was lightly peppered and prepared quite well. Very good.

                                  1. We went into the Fish Market for a beer in the bar, and decided to split a crab & shrimp Louie. Tiny amounts of both on what tasted like bagged lettuce, nondescript dressing and other ingredients, a little of this and that. Edible but basically blah. We were happy that we got a window seat.

                                    8 Replies
                                    1. re: DoctorChow

                                      Should of had a bucket of steamers, chowder and some cheesy bread and swished down with a couple of cold Anchor Steams on tap!

                                      1. re: Beach Chick

                                        Steamers!!!!! like real east coast steamers?

                                        1. re: cstr

                                          Sledge..is there any other kind?
                                          I could eat 2 buckets right this second..

                                          1. re: Beach Chick

                                            And 'many' Anchors, perfect accompaniment!

                                            1. re: cstr

                                              Now all I'm thinking about is steamers, chowda and cold Anchors..
                                              Are you my doppelganger?

                                              1. re: Beach Chick

                                                I'm confident you are a woman without doppelganger.

                                                1. re: Fake Name

                                                  My doppelganger was sent to the Mütter Museum.

                                        2. re: Beach Chick

                                          Yeah, I agree! But it was mid-afternoon, we'd been walking around a lot (it was pretty warm) and we were after something light and cold -- and some beer. Also, we'd just had a lot of oysters at Oceanaire the previous night. We both thought that a salad sounded good at the time. Anyway, that's what we got. At least it was light and cold...

                                      2. I ordered the Thai Shrimp salad from Tender Greens (downtown) the other day. The quality of the ingredients was excellent. The greens were ultra-crisp. The shrimp were plentiful and the flavors were bold. Sorry for the slightly ambiguous descriptions but I left the menu at work and I cannot recall all the exact ingredients. Their large salads not over-the-top-Claim-Jumper-from-hell massive, thank goodness. Their focus is clearly prioritized on quality. Bonus: You can pre-order online.

                                        1. Another hot day in the city, and a good one for a light "mid-day" beet salad at Luce. Small but tasty, with roasted beets, arugula, a few pickled red onions, some mild goat cheese, and balsamic. The surprise was the chocolate sauce that was drizzled on top. Very nice touch. I didn't really want or need the croutons on the bottom, although I suppose they help keep the greens fresh? Simple, but very pleasant. That plus a glass of on-tap Societe Apprentice IPA (which is off-balance IMO, but at least the choice of hops is good) for $10 during HH. Such a deal. And even though it was blazing outside, it was nice and cool inside with those big windows open.

                                          1. Perfect weather for a salad, so I went to X for one of my favorite salads Y. Overall, I thought the salad was a Z. Therefore X+Y=Z. I accompanied my salad with a fine glass of Pino Noir.

                                            6 Replies
                                            1. re: cstr

                                              If your equation is correct, X, Y, and Z can't all have independent values. I'll assume it's correct and that the post isn't a kibosh. Then, since X and Z have given values, Y is the unknown, and Y=Z-X. Plugging things into my TI-30 calculator I get...Aha!

                                              1. re: DoctorChow

                                                I had an SR50. Still don't know how to do math.

                                                Hate math.

                                                Spreadsheets too.

                                                1. re: Fake Name

                                                  I can still do arithmetic well enough to add the tip. Anything beyond that is way too hard.

                                                  1. re: cstr

                                                    Mildly condescending, but thanks.

                                              2. Finally tried Sea and Smoke for lunch last Saturday. The weather was still blistering so the only thing I could consider was something cool and refreshing.

                                                "Summer Salad". Arugula / white corn / chipotle corn nut / jicama / pickled chiles / cilantro vinaigrette / cotija. Perfection - and a little bit of genius. The jicama was shaved, so it was tender and refreshing, instead of big, bulky crunchy bits (although I like it that way too). Instead, the crunch factor was carried out by the chipotle corn nuts. Chipotle corn nuts! You know that oddball snack food that you usually see in small plastic bags at convenience stores? Who would have thought? But it really worked and added heat and texture to the dish.

                                                After I had almost finished lunch I got a notification from a little birdie recommending the "Charred Green Bean Salad" - mizuna / quinoa / ginger / soy dressing. Too late, but next time!

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: foodiechick

                                                  I find it especially enjoyable when a chef serves up an already well-executed dish and then adds creative little suprises --like the shaved jicama and chipotle corn nuts. It adds fun to the dining. I had a similar experience with the chocolate sauce that was drizzled on a salad at Luce.

                                                  1. The Baja Cobb at Smashburger is pretty tasty. The greens are always crisp and lively. Their chipotle dressing is portioned just right so the salad is a legitimately healthy choice.

                                                    1. I tried the "Mediterranean Chicken Salad" at Aladdin on CMB today. This is a bustling small restaurant that was busy (and noisy) even in mid-day. The generous portion of flame-grilled seasoned chicken had been cut into long thin strips. That was the best part. The sear marks added to its appearance and it had a mild, pleasantly smokey taste. The rest of the salad was flat, though. It really needed something to pick it up, like fresh garlic, more mint, or a stronger feta. I added salt and even that helped. A huge salad served with warm pita at a reasonable price, but I can't say I'd recommend it.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: DoctorChow

                                                        I think they have a sister resto in Uptown Center in Hillcrest. Their passionfruit shrimp salad is pretty tasty and a half order is a fairly large portion

                                                      2. I had a beet and citrus salad at 'Wich Addiction this week. Nice greens with red peppers, beets, orange slices and feta cheese with a sweet citrus vinagrette. Added grilled shrimp which had nice flavor if a little on the salty side. Definitely recommend that place for lunch.

                                                        1. Enjoyed a Wedge Salad at Donovan's in LJ, as I was feeling for days in the past. Great creamy blue cheese dressing, loads of bacon bits, on request, with a few tomatoes. A good crust of bread and a glass of wine made it a fine happy hour early dinner. Also had a few of those filet sammies too!

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: cstr

                                                            That salad sounds good sledge..minus, the bacon bits..
                                                            'Feeling for days past'..aren't you a Virgo too?
                                                            If so, happy happy bday!

                                                            1. re: cstr

                                                              I personally prefer the Donovan's in Univ. City (LJ, if people must) to the one downtown.

                                                              Well, I'll admit that it also has sentimental aspects. That's the spot on this great blue earth's surface where I first met my current companion -- which was in 1988, when it was the Rusty Pelican.

                                                              "And we danced, like a wave on the ocean, romanced..."

                                                              1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                Wow, that Rusty Pelican reference brings back memories. Great post DC.

                                                            2. I tried to ignore the 1917-era music and Disneyland-esq decor that accosts guests at the exterior and entryway to 94th Aero Squadron, hoping to find a good crab & shrimp Louie inside. Once in the dining area, the music is much softer and the decor, though still stuck in WWI, much more muted. All of the tables look out onto lovely Montgomery Field, so you can watch nothing taking off or landing. For $17, I figured I’d get a better Louie than the sorry excuse that I recently had at Fish Market downtown. And yes, it was better than that. Somewhat, anyway. At least the shrimp were grownup ones this time. All four of them. But once again, it was hard to find the crab meat. Or maybe it was just flavorless. The rest of the salad included all of the requisite ingredients, but none of them exactly popped out in terms of preparation, presentation, or flavor. The Louie dressing was a tad more interesting than that at Fish Market (where it tasted like Thousand Island), but still didn’t exactly sparkle. Pretty boring, really. Actually, the best parts of the meal were the warm cracked-wheat bread and the “complimentary” home-style creamed corn that’s offered to everyone.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                Creamed corn, now there's a throw back. How was the music?

                                                                1. re: cstr

                                                                  The music was from the WWI era, part of the general ambience there. Hardly my kind of music, but at least it wasn't very loud (inside).

                                                                  I don't know how far back creamed corn goes. Probably pretty far. I remember it when I was a kid, and they probably had it well before that. Maybe it was a WWI staple?

                                                              2. I had a blackened red snapper salad with vinaigrette at Blue Water Grill on India. I like this place and go a few times a year. I'd go more often if I thought I could always count on making it to the counter the same day that I arrive, and then after ordering find a table, which is the sequence they request (and enforce). One can get stressed out here before ever setting knife and fork to food. Still, I like the place, and so I go.

                                                                The snapper was good and had been prepared well, although it was just a wee bit on the dry side. The vinaigrette was ok, but I really don’t like having to add dressing myself from a little plastic container to veggies that are underneath delicate, cooked fish. Pre-tossed is better for these kinds of salads, IMO. (And it seems to me that Blue Water used to do it that way some time back.) Capers added a bit of flair and flavor to the salad mix, which was otherwise pretty ordinaire. A good fish salad for $10, though, I think. Ballast Point on tap was a plus.

                                                                So far this month the best salads I’ve had have been the seared ahi salad at Karl Strauss and the roasted beet salad at Luce. Both were very good and also good values -- my favorite combination, as with wine.

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                  Blue Water is my go to fish market, and I never tire of being ushered to the front of the line while getting a lot of dirty looks.

                                                                  1. re: RB Hound

                                                                    Actually, it doesn't bother me at all when I see that. It seems like the right thing. If people who are trying to buy fresh fish there had to wait in line, their fish would be spoiled before they paid for it! I've never bought fresh fish there, BTW, but I've stared at it while standing in line, and it looks wonderful.

                                                                    1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                      It's the visitors to town that get annoyed, and when they realize that you are just getting something from the counter and leaving, I think they get an "oh!" look. But the first instinct is to get ticked at the cutter.

                                                                2. For a late-afternoon meal I had the “warm baby spinach salad with blackened shrimp” at C-Level on Harbor Island today. This is a well-balanced dish that’s served in a modestly heated bowl, which oh-so-slightly warms the cold greens.

                                                                  The well-thought-through choice of salad ingredients worked well to compliment and counterbalance the intense flavor of the shrimp. All of the ingredients were small: The spinach was small, the mushrooms were small, the halved tomatoes were small, the boiled egg white slices were small, and both the snappy goat cheese and bacon chips were in small pieces. The salad also included pine nuts and dried cranberries, as well as pickled red onions that were cut in short strips. I liked the textural theme. Although the vinaigrette was a little bland (probably intentional), the chewy sweet-sour cranberries, which were in generous supply, and the pickled red onions easily made up for it.

                                                                  The large skewered blackened shrimp were superior, wonderfully flavorful, and had just a little heat to them. Excellent.

                                                                  White wine and the nice view that they have at C-Level made for a very pleasant meal. I’d now say this salad would be either the best or second best of those I’ve had this month, the other contender being the seared ahi at Karl Strauss downtown.

                                                                  1. So do DIY salads fit this category? i.e. grocery store salad bars?

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                      Originally, I said restaurant-made salads only for Dish of the Month, but after reading about Fogo de Chao, and thinking about others, I wished I'd never said that!

                                                                      Go for it, DD! I know that everyone will be interested in what you have to say.

                                                                      1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                        I seriously doubt that, but I'll see if I can find the time today to post...