BEST SALAD - 2007
Salads are the new fast food. Belly up to your local Au Bon Pain and they'll toss up the greens with a manic speed, coating the mixing bowl with dressing and layering on the now omnipresent Asiago cheese. This is a good development for the lunchtime crowd, but a successful salad is really more than the sum of its ingredients. There's a craft when it comes to pairing flavors, and Brenda Langton, the local queen of organic cuisine, has mastered it. Witness her divine creations at Spoonriver: The Mediterranean salad with lentils, smooth mint dressing, feta cheese, cucumber, artichokes, and roasted sweet peppers ($10.50) has an abundance of taste sensations that work together while oh-so-subtly vying for your individual attention. A green salad featuring a complex wasabi Wisconsin goat cheese perks up the already stunning flavor with smooth apricots ($10.50). Other salads here play host to smoked salmon, and of course there's a Caesar salad for traditionalists. Spoonriver is located near the Mill City Farmers' Market, so head for the restaurant after you stock up your fridge. You'll surely be inspired to create a few unforgettable salads of your own when you return home.