Trending on OpenTable Restaurant Reviews: Tomato Salad

ht-saladThis time of year is my absolute favorite — and not just because the US Open is going on. Tomatoes are at the peak of their eating in the New York area (and elsewhere, too), and I’ve been indulging every chance I get at restaurants or when strolling through my garden and grabbing ’em off the vine. Perhaps the loveliest way to enjoy tomatoes when they are in their prime is in a simple salad. Panzanella is a personal preference (because, um, croutons!), but you’ll find a wide variety of styles of tomato salad at this time of year and interesting companions (Nectarines!) that bring out the best in each bite of tomato. Find out which are winning rave reviews from OpenTable diners.

Anson, Charleston, South Carolina: “The food was incredible, the atmosphere relaxed, and the service without fault. My husband and I enjoyed the house specialty pimento cheese ‘for the table’ followed by a salad of heirloom tomatoes, arugula, watermelon relish, and buttermilk dressing.”

Cafe Mahjaic-Lotus Inn, Lotus, California: “The fish tacos we had for an appetizer were probably the best I’ve ever had, and the tomato cucumber salad was delightful! ”

Cindy Pawlcyn’s Wood Grill & Wine Bar, St. Helena, California: “The heirloom tomato and melon salad was excellent and clever.”

Della Santina’s Trattoria, Sonoma, California: “It’s a good restaurant in terms of Italian menu options with some variations on California, like the heirloom tomato salad with white anchovies.”

Extra Virgin, Kansas City, Missouri: ” If you like tomatoes, you’ll love the seasonal items on the menu. The Missouri tomato salad with pesto sauce, the panzanella salad, and gazpacho were full of perfectly ripened tomatos. With a side of bread and ricotta cheese, we had a wonderful selection of late summer items to enjoy.”

Gramercy Grill, Vancouver, British Columbia: “My mom had the special tomato and bellini cheese salad and I had the endive with blue cheese salad and citrus dressing. Both were scrumptious.”

Local 121, Providence, Rhode Island: “The food was outstanding. The tomatoes in the heirloom tomato salad melted in your mouth.”

Mayfield Bakery & Cafe, Palo Alto, California: “A must on the menu is the heirloom tomato salad with burrata cheese. I’d go back for that for sure!!!”

* Mon Ami Gabi, Bethesda, Maryland: “This week featured the most fabulous heirloom tomato salad with the tomatoes purchased from the local farmers markets.”

Oak + Almond, Norwalk, Connecticut: “Love the menu and the decor here! Had the heirloom tomato and corn salad with an appetizer of warm nuts to start.”

* Oyster Club, Mystic, Connecticut: “For an appetizer, I chose the tomato and arugula salad with burrata cheese. The creamy cheese alongside farm fresh tomatoes, spicy arugula, and vinaigrette made for a fresh tasting, salad bursting with the flavors of summer.”

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Endless Summer: Do Diners Tire of Tomatoes and Other Seasonal Ingredients?

I was dining with a good friend recently, and as we looked over the menu, I noted that there was an heirloom tomato salad on it that I must try. I usually attempt to order something different than my tablemates, so I asked if he were interested in it. “No,” he said, “You get it. If I see another heirloom tomato, I’m going to throw up. I’m sick of them.” Mon dieu! I’d never imagined anyone could tire of fresh summer tomatoes — let alone be sickened by the thought of them.

You see, I’m a tomato junkie. I always order them when dining out. I even grow them. During the high season, I eat tomatoes every single day! To me, they are the best of summer’s bounty. Their aroma is as intoxicating as the sweet-acidity that packs every bite! And not only do they taste good, they are stunningly gorgeous. Okay, so, you get where I’m coming from: I’ve NEVER seen a tomato dish on a summer menu that doesn’t draw me in like a chocoholic to Ghirardelli Square. Still, I will consider that it’s possible that some diners get tired of the ubiquitousness of ingredients during a season’s denouement. After all, I have had chefs tell me part of the fun of seasonal cooking is that the ingredients start to shift just as their interest in them wanes.

So, tell me, diners, do you tire of any ingredients during certain seasons? Do spring ramps make you want to spring forward to summer? Do you get sick of sweet summer corn? Do squash blossoms drive you bonkers at some point? Share your thoughts in our comments section.

The Cultivated Plate: Gramercy Tavern Chef Michael Anthony’s Sourcing Story

OpenTable is pleased to announce the launch of The Cultivated Plate, a new weekly feature on Dining Check about how and from where restaurants source their ingredients. From the practical to the political, chefs and restaurateurs will share the challenges and the opportunities in bringing food from farm to table. This week, chef Michael Anthony discusses how he tells Gramercy Tavern’s story by shopping at the Greenmarket.

GT is located only 3 blocks aways so from every single angle, the market represents the best resource that we have as diners and as restaurateurs in the city. It’s the beginning for all the dishes that we eat at home and all of the dishes we serve at the restaurant.
It offers the greatest flexibilities in terms of buying. The fact that ehese folks come from up to 3.5 to 4 hours a day and are willing to be here to answer questions and provide information. This is the greatest flexibility for buying food.
The majority of our food comes riht from the market. We support other farms through other companies. But sincer we’re three blocks away, we have a whole team of ppl responsible for combing the market. The goald is to buy local, but we don’t define local bye a geographic point on the map. We’re defining local by the relationships we make when we’re buying our food. We’re trying to builda dialogue. There’s a healthy evolution between diners and chefs.

Watch as Chef Anthony shares his thoughts on the farm-to-table label, how he addresses diners who want fresh tomatoes in January, and where truffles fit in to his menu at Gramercy Tavern. And, read more sourcing insights from this chef after the jump.

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Trendspotting: Awful Offal; Fish Goes Green; Forkage Fees Make Author See Red; Restaurant Diners to See Fewer Tomatoes, and More

* It’s the awful side of offal as Rocky Mountain oysters show up on more menus. Blech. [The Atlantic]

* Move over green eggs and ham: Fish is getting in on the action as well. [Chicago Tribune]

* A restaurant asked Cake Bible author Rose Levy Beranbaum to fork over cash for a “forkage” fee for a — you guessed it — cake. [Chowhound]

* Some restaurants have secret menus that anyone can order so long as you know the secret names. Trust me when I say you’ll probably be better off if you don’t indulge in any of these things. [Coupon Spy]

* Cold weather has killed a lot of tomatoes and they’re in short supply at restaurants. [CNM]

* Restaurants in Dallas are going green. [Dallas Morning News]

* Restaurants in Chicago are serving pretzel bread. []

* It’s patio season in Beantown. [Grub Street Boston]

* Garlic goes green — literally. It’s already a vegetable, so it’s not like it’s not “green,” but some varieties are also actually green. [Los Angeles Times]

* Want to find sustainable fish? There’s an app for that. [Miller-McCune]

* More restaurants in New York are going green with rooftop gardens. [New York Magazine]

* It’s tough to keep kosher in Connecticut. [The New York Times]

* Restaurants have better house wines. [The Reporter-Vacaville]

* You can take a nap in Napa after you dine on first-rate cuisine, thanks to top-notch inns with equally impressive restaurants. [San Francisco Chronicle]

* Bars and booze are bringing more business in to restaurants. [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

* The Star Tribune has had a food section for four decades and in that time, they’ve, admittedly, endorsed some pretty silly trends. [Star Tribune]

* Taiwan restaurants take sustainability a step further. [Trendspotter]

* Our diners up north have the skinny on what’s going to be trendy in food in the future, which has already arrived, apparently. [Vancouver Sun]

* A DC restaurant goes dark but not in the bad way. [Washington Post]