Dining trend-setters hit upon iceberg

Retro: A wedge of crunchy lettuce with blue cheese dressing brings back the good old days.

February 28, 1999|By John Kessler | John Kessler,Cox News Service

ATLANTA -- Being a salad snob used to be so easy. Romaine was good. Radicchio was good. Mixed baby greens were the height of sophistication.

And iceberg was the pits. If you made the faux pas of professing a taste for head lettuce, it was like saying you craved Bac-O-Bits or preferred crunchy tomatoes over vine-ripened.

But now people who consider themselves sophisticated indeed are taking knife and fork to iceberg with renewed gusto.

"It's a retro thing," says restaurant consultant John Imbergamo. "That wedge of lettuce with blue cheese dressing and blue cheese crumbles. We're seeing it in all the top restaurants."

This salad has been a big seller at dick & harry's, an upscale American bistro in Roswell, Ga., since Richard and Harold Marmulstein opened the restaurant in 1996.

"My brother claims he brought it to Atlanta," Richard Marmulstein says. "I think the comfort foods of the time we were growing up are coming back. We grew up in upstate New York, and when Harold was 8 or 9 he'd always order it in restaurants. People thought it was bizarre for a kid his age. But he's always loved it."

Tom Catherall of Prime -- a fancy steak and sushi place in Atlanta -- also claims a long association with the wedge salad. Catherall also serves it at Indigo Coastal Grill, the trend-setting Atlanta bistro he acquired late last year. "I sell the iceberg salad there as much as the fancy field greens," he claims.

Speaking of which, what about those frilly, leafy greens? Weren't they supposed to be the ultimate in salad chic? "The mixed greens with balsamic vinaigrette?" asks Imbergamo. "Oh no, they're everywhere. They've been dumbed down."

Pub Date: 02/28/99

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