Let’s admit it: Dining out for lunch can leave you feeling sluggish. A big plate of pasta, one too many slices of pizza, an enchilada smothered in sauce (besides that basket of complimentary chips and salsa you gorged on) – it’s only noon and you’re already looking for a place to lay down your head. Time to turn your eyes to the salad. That’s rabbit food, you say? Think again. Chefs around town are turning out some satisfying mélanges that celebrate the fall bounty of Georgia farms, and there’s not a single lettuce leaf in the bowl. Here’s where to fuel up for lunch when you don’t want to be weighed down.
Chef Billy Allin gives special treatment to dainty French lentilles du Puy in a salad that’s bright with marinated red beets, haricots verts and shaved radish deftly dressed with a subdued vin. Leeks simmered in a court bouillon lend sophistication while a boiled egg half gives the protein boost you need to push through the workday afternoon. Long live cuisine minceur!
Cakes & Ale, 155 Sycamore St., Decatur. 404-377-7994, cakesandalerestaurant.com
Fall greens, maple-roasted squash, pecans
Chef Steven Satterfield has a way with veggies. Heck, his new cookbook, "Root to Leaf, A Southern Chef Cooks Through the Seasons," is one big ode to the bounty of the earth. The salad of the moment at his Miller Union sees a mix of late-harvest greens like kale, chicory, endive and radicchio tossed in a tangy shallot vinaigrette. Resting on the bed are wedges of roasted squash, fragrant with rosemary, glistening with maple syrup and melted butter, then studded with Pearson Farm pecans. If only fall could last all year long.
Miller Union, 999 Brady Ave., NW, Atlanta. 678-733-8550, millerunion.com
You’ve heard of garbage soup, but how ’bout dumpster salad? One Eared Stag watches its inventory, and when it needs to move produce, that lands in the salad bowl. Tubers and roots such as potatoes, carrots and radishes provide the bulk, while bacon and pecorino bring the requisite salt. Add fried bread for crunch, herbs for good looks and buttermilk dressing to tie it all together. Grab your fork and dig in. This is one time when you shouldn’t feel the least bit ashamed for dumpster diving.
One Eared Stag, 1209 Edgewood Ave., Atlanta. 404-525-4479, oneearedstagatl.com
If you’re down with quinoa, still a darling among ancient grains, Bocado’s quinoa salad can’t be beat. It starts with that fluffy, feel-good superfood. Cucumber and watermelon radish get tossed into the mix for crunch while avocado slices and a barely spicy lime crème fraiche offer creamy texture. Simple yet sensational, this salad will keep you filled for hours. And it’s so darn healthy it’ll have you thinking you just might live forever.
Bocado, 887 Howell Mill Rd, NW, Atlanta. 404-815-1399, bocadoatlanta.com
Eating around the clock in Atlanta: