Further validating the affirmation that necessity is the mother of invention, the original caesar salad was hastily cobbled together from leftover ingredients back in the 1920s, by a Tijuana-based restauranteur attempting to satiate a group of Hollywood film stars. And whether ceremoniously prepared tableside at posh steakhouses or offered at diners and fast-food joints, the mélange of romaine tossed with raw egg, garlic, lemon, Worcestershire and (somewhere along the line) anchovy has remained largely unchanged throughout the years, save for the occasional incorporation into sandwiches or, inexplicably, sushi.
But without a clear catalyst, 2016 has seen the caesar turned on its head many times over, both in Manhattan—where M. Wells riffs with smoked herring, Salvation Burger anoints lettuce with hot mustard and onion ash, cooked over a wood fired grill, and David Chang’s Nishi bathes its leaves in warm walnut bagna cauda—as well as in Brooklyn, exemplified at the following on-trend eateries.
Forget your fork when taking on Emmy Squared’s highly original caesar, built around whole, raw blades of bok choy. The broad leaves and scooped stalks prove ideal vessels for transporting rounds of radish and squiggles of potent anchovy dressing, enhanced with an ample dusting of bottarga — salted and cured fish roe.
364 Grand St., Williamsburg (718) 360-4535
Hey Hey Canteen
Eschewing spiritless frills of iceberg or romaine, this casual 2 Duck Goose reboot swaps in spicy and grassy chrysanthemum greens and ribbons of crispy seaweed in their pan-Asian spin on the salad, complemented with crushed almond parmesan, cubes of seared tofu and bao croutons; formed from deep-fried Chinese steam buns.
400 4th Ave., Gowanus (347) 987-3830
As sophisticated and spare as a plate of raw oysters, Maison Premiere’s salad is constructed from slim, pale boats of faintly bitter Belgian endive, accented with shaved, sharp parmesan and shards of tangy, toasted rye bread.
298 Bedford Ave., Williamsburg (347) 335-0446
The 1920’s-era caesar undergoes a thoroughly modern makeover at Williamsburg newcomer, Midnights, whose très Brooklyn redux features baby Tuscan kale and Brussels sprouts, as well as boquerones (mild white anchovies), toasted almonds and parmesan crisps.
149 N 6th St.,Williamsburg (718) 384-6961