BEST SALAD Minneapolis 2001 - Lucia's
Just consider a recent Lucia's salad made with greens, Spanish air-cured tuna, roasted fennel, and caper berries, all united with a sun-dried tomato vinaigrette ($9.95). What balance! What strength! Or another salad of mixed greens with verjus vinaigrette, apples, hickory nuts, and a French goat-cheese crouton ($8.25). What original simplicity! Not only does Lucia's reliably have the best salads in town--you should see the jewel-like piles of pomegranate seeds, the bits of roast pear, the artist's-palette compositions--but the place feels like the best salad in town: A bunch of smart ingredients all mixed together with perfect harmony. In this case we mean customers impervious to the lure of this month's hot new restaurant, we mean an admirable wine list, we mean that lovely (and newly nonsmoking) bar, those gorgeous desserts, that so-light-it-nearly-levitates room. Except we get to be the fennel, you have to be the hickory nuts. No backsies.