Friday, August 31, 2007

Favorite Chopped Salads in Baltimore Restaurants

Consistently for several decades, Marconi's served up my favorite chopped salad of any Baltimore restaurant. Since Marconi's closed, two new restaurants have emerged to fill that void.

At left is P.F. Chang's "Nico's Favorite." The successful modern Chinese chain's menu describes it as "a salad full of surprises featuring cured ham, gorgonzola and candied walnuts." P.F. Chang's web provides a nutritional analysis and lists the ingredients as "lettuce mix (seasonal spring greens & iceberg), European gorgonzola cheese, walnut dressing, fresh roma tomatoes, cured ham, candied walnuts, dried cranberries, fresh lime juice, and garlic."

Pictured next to it is Fattoush, from Lebanese Taverna at 719 President Street, Inner Harbor East. According to the menu, its starting point is a basic Lebanese salad, where the main ingredients are tomato, cucumber, parsley, green peppers, and mint. Fattoush adds pita chips to the mix and is dressed with pomegranate extract, sumac, radish, and olive oil. In my opinion, the result is nothing short of sublime. It's the deep red sumac that most intrigues me. I'm not aware of another restaurant in the Baltimore area that uses sumac. Lebanese Taverna also offers a cocktail they call the Oasis, where sumac renders heavenly a mixture of gin and lemonade.