There's a fragile line between rampant popularity of a worthy dish and its collapse into culinary cliché. Unfortunately, beet-and-goat-cheese salads have fallen, hard, into the second camp.
However, there are a group of brave chefs combating the predictable with refreshingly delicious results:
Bardessono Sean O'Toole, the chef of this new Napa Valley hotel's restaurant, grew up eating Harvard beets, a sweet-sour preparation popular in New England. His retribution: a lunch salad of roasted beets with burrata, Castelvetrano olive oil, arugula and a honey-and-sherry-vinegar gastrique. The dish is so popular that guests in the know ask for it at dinner. 6526 Yount St., Yountville, CA; 707-204-6030 or bardessono.com
Locanda Verde New York's Andrew Carmellini has most of that city's eaters worshipping at his Italian altar. But when it comes to beets, even he's had a difficult time getting them "to go outside the mold," he says. Any of his beet-based cicchetti (snacks) certainly do their part to topple preconceptions. Recently, he's paired beets with Pecorino pepato cheese and caramelized walnuts; pickled cherries, feta and pistachios; and Barolo vinegar, shallots and olive oil. 377 Greenwich St., New York; 212-925-3797 or locandaverdenyc.com
Street This new venture from Los Angeles's ever-popular Susan Feniger corrals street food from across the world in one freewheeling restaurant. For their anti-establishment beet salad (pictured), Feniger and chef Kajsa Alger turned to Scandinavia. Their genius combination of wood-roasted beets, apples, toasted walnuts, watercress and zippy juniper vinaigrette might make you forget goat cheese ever existed. Plus, you can click here to download the recipe. 742 N. Highland Ave., Los Angeles; 323-203-0500 or eatatstreet.com
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