Some say fall is in the air. My tomato plants, still laden with reddening fruit, convince me otherwise. As does the lineup of tomato-forward salads on menus across town. These have no relation to the tired caprese that lingers long after the season is done. Instead, these simple arrangements sing the praises of the sun—and of summer itself.
Two notable examples—from Potager (pictured) and Le Grand Bistro & Oyster Bar—stand out. Potager’s chef and co-owner Teri Rippeto, who is known for gently coaxing the best out of seasonal produce, shows her lightness of hand with this salad. Multiple varieties of tomato (sliced, halved, and whole) combine with torn mozzarella and a scattering of basil and lemon balm. Crunchy salt and a light vinaigrette adorn the plentiful starter. Mop up the remaining dressing with thick slices of bread.
At Le Grand, newly appointed chef John Broening, procures tomatoes from a friend with several plots in Highland. Broening cuts the fruit into generous pieces, dresses the salad with tarragon-mustard vinaigrette (made with house-made tarragon vinegar), and adds Jumping Good goat cheese. The key to this dish is texture, thanks to a sprinkling of garlic breadcrumbs, minced red onion, and Malden salt. When I ordered the item, it only featured tomatoes—local cucumbers have since been added. (Tip: Do as Le Grand owner Robert Thompson does and order the salad and a pile of frites.)
Both dishes—as well as most of the tomato-forward dishes you see on menus—will be available into September, or until the first hard frosts.
Potager, 1109 Ogden St., 303-832-5788
Le Grand Bistro & Oyster Bar, 1512 Curtis St., 303-534-1155