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Food: Best Salad

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Conventional thinking and years of conditioning dictate that more often than not, salad goes with a meal. The French country salad at Odeon is so much better as a prologue to roasted half-chicken and garlic mashed potatoes. Or the walnut-endive-and-Stilton salad at Café des Artistes -- just bearable without the promise of peach- or plum-glazed duck. Even the fresh, leafy, lightly dressed greens and plump, always-ripe tomatoes at Les Deux Gamins can't dissuade one from proceeding to the steak au poîvre and accompanying frites. Still, occasionally, all you want is a salad. And the place to get one is Tossed (295 Park Avenue South, near 23rd Street; 674-6700).

It’s fast. And the salad -- whether you build your own or put your faith in any one of the succulent, kaleidoscopic, and enormous freshly prepared servings -- stands alone. There's the chopped Greek with kalamata olives, or the tossed niçoise with capers, cornichons, and seared tuna, or the baby spinach with grilled portobellos, "hickory-sweet-smoked" bacon, toasted hazelnuts, and onions with black-peppercorn Asiago dressing. And you can call them all dinner. Yes, they deliver.


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