A BLT is a sandwich so simple, it needs no recipe. It’s also a sandwich frequently targeted as a caloric mess, which also, coincidentally, is why a BLT tastes so delicious. I’ve found three restaurants that have translated the fat-laden monstrosity – as I lovingly call a BLT sandwich – onto the salad plate (more fiber must mean it’s good for you, right?). These aren’t exactly light salads – they are crisp and acidic with just a touch of richness – perfect for heartier summer evening dining. Here are my favorite BLT salads.
Pacific Grill: BLT Salad, $8
1502 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253-627-3535, pacificgrilltacoma.com
If a BLT and a salade aux lardone had a love child, it’d be the BLT salad at Pacific Grill. The French bistro lardon salad is a blend of crisp, pucker and fat – fried pork cubes (lardons) with frisee lettuce, and a warm mustard vinaigrette. Pacific Grill owner/executive chef Gordon Naccarato told me by email his salad is a hybrid of frisée aux lardons et ouefs poché (salad with mustard vinaigrette, lardons and egg) that he served during his first chef job at Michael’s in Santa Monica. Naccarato has coaxed flavor into his BLT salad with the familiar warm mustard vinaigrette, a puckery match for porky cubes of Nueske’s applewood smoked bacon. Marinated halved cherry tomatoes and velvety cubes of avocado finished the salad of romaine and iceberg.
The salad has been on the menu since opening and Naccarato said it always will be. Pacific Grill is the anchor of the Pacific restaurant district in downtown Tacoma, serving a Northwest American menu of upscale surf and turf. It opened in 2005 and has a sister business – Pacific Grill Catering. Pacific Grill also operates the cafe – Classics – at the newly opened LeMay – America’s Car Museum.
208 Garfield: BLT Salad, $6
208 Garfield St. S., Tacoma, 253-538-5990, 208garfield.com
It’s the homemade buttermilk ranch dressing – made with celery leaves, garlic, lemon and chives – that turns this salad into a fat-laden monstrosity of yum. Conveniently, the dressing comes on the side in a pouring pitcher so you can choose your level of gluttony. Chopped romaine hearts made the base of this salad, topped with halved grape tomatoes and plenty of thick-cut bacon. Chef Erin McGinnis finished the salad with the ultimate in guilty pleasure snacking – Rogue Oregon blue cheese crumbles. If you consider a perfect BLT salad one that balances snap, crisp and fat – this salad was it.
Haven’t tried 208 Garfield yet? It’s a hidden gem in Parkland, located next door to Pacific Lutheran University. It’s a low-key place with trendy food like smoked pork belly and prosciutto and fig panini – but it’s affordable dining with most sandwiches and salads around $6-$7. The wine and beer list always impresses. The atmosphere is smart and approachable.
Boathouse 19: BLT Salad, $6
9001 S. 19th St., Tacoma, 253-565-1919, boathouse19restaurant.com
Soft butter lettuce may seem an unexpected choice for a salad that wants to be on the snappy side of crisp, but I think Boathouse 19 executive chef Tom Small had another motive in mind – he’s using the structure of the softly curved butter leaves as a dressing delivery vessel. You won’t hear me complain because there is no worse salad travesty than lettuce that cannot deliver enough dressing into my mouth.
Two smoky slices of bacon criss-crossed the salad built on a bed of butter lettuce, the soft curve of the leaves captured every drizzle of the creamy housemade dressing. Blue cheese crumbles were modest, as was the size of the salad, which was on the small side, even for a starter salad. Grape tomatoes added just the right level of acidity to cut the richness of the bacon and cheese. Boathouse 19 is the newest waterfront restaurant in Tacoma, owned by Denny Driscoll, who owns the Lobster Shop restaurants. Boathouse 19 opened July 2 at the Narrows Marina.
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YOUR TURN: Have your own favorite summer salad? Tell me about it at firstname.lastname@example.org or 253-597-8270. Or, just comment below.