I pay close attention to food trends because of their positive effects on what I buy and eat in a restaurant. The Mediterranean diet, which features olive oil, fresh fish and vegetables, is still popular. Meatless Mondays took off like a comet a few years back while sustainable and often local products are high on my list.
I am not a fan of food fads, especially when an ingredient is being touted all over town and on Twitter because someone decided we should all fall in love with a specific ingredient no matter how dreadful it tastes.
I am speaking of raw kale. When it is shredded and packed into a smoothie or featured as the main ingredient in a salad, it has the consistency of cardboard and a bitter taste that no amount of salad dressing could improve. But just because it is “in” does not mean we should all say how delicious it is.
A server at Miles Table, a charming casual BYOB on South Street, suggested the Molly kale salad ($8). The eatery is a fine neighborhood spot done up in gray and white with a large booth in the window and modern tables and chairs running the length of the wall.
Patrons place their orders and a server brings it to them. Edward was curious about the kale salad, and for purposes of review, I felt obliged to taste it. The salad featured a Mount Etna of shredded kale with slices of creamy, ripe avocado, dried cranberries, Mandarin orange sections and a scattering of toasted almonds tossed in a sweet orange and yogurt dressing.
All I could taste was bitter and sweet. The salad was underdressed and lacked any type of seasoning, even salt and pepper. And how about some fresh, chopped herbs to add a bit of flavor and texture?
One may think it is simple to build a fine salad. It isn’t. The Miles salad ($8) was so cloyingly sweet, neither Edward nor I could go past a few bites. It was a mound of ordinary, bagged mesclun, which never adds any crunch, topped with microscopic bits of feta and covered in a blanket of crushed toffee pecans. The dressing was a mix of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, which was OK, but did nothing to counterbalance the sweetness of the greens. It, too, lacked any seasoning.
Now to the good news. I’ve been on a hunt for a good burger and confess Miles Table ($12.50) serves up a fine one. Ground chuck is the beef of choice because it packs a lot of flavor and the ratio of fat to beef is spot on. Miles Table used seasoned ground chuck that was seared medium-rare and nestled on a soft bun. Most restaurants use Applewood smoked bacon because of its aromatic qualities and smoky taste. The bacon was nice and crisp and not a bit greasy. Melted cheddar cheese and sliced lettuce and tomato topped my burger.
I especially enjoyed the smear of remoulade, a classic French sauce made with mayonnaise, chopped capers, anchovies, mustard and herbs, on the lettuce. It was more of an American version with the flavor and consistency of a good homemade Russian dressing, but I did not mind at all. I just downright liked it.
Pizzas also are featured at Miles Table even though our servers, who were friendly, professional, attentive and not-at-all chatty, called them flatbreads. Who cares? The one fashioned with sausage and fennel ($11) was a first for us. We tucked right into a piping hot, large thin-crust rectangle that was crisp on the bottom. The menu states Miles spicy Italian sausage is used in the flatbread so I can only assume it is made in-house.
It had a vibrant flavor and married beautifully with the anise-flavor of the fennel that did not turn soggy during its time in the oven. It retained a little crisp texture that we both enjoyed. Slices of San Marzano tomatoes and creamy bits of mild mozzarella added to the overall flavors and textures of the flatbread.
I noticed a number of regulars, all of whom brought wine or beer, dining at Miles Table. The restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch as well.
Two-and-a-half tips of the toque to Miles Table.
1620 South St.
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