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Battle of the Department-Store Salads

Nothing works up an appetite for a bowl of lettuce like a peek in a dressing-room mirror. To mark the opening of Bendel’s new café and the return of its signature salad, we nibbled our way through the competition. Here’s how they rated on a scale of zero to four tomatoes.

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1. NICOLE’S SPRING “CHOPPED” SALAD
Nicole’s at Nicole Farhi

10 E. 60th St., nr. Fifth Ave.; 212-223-2288
The clear winner, made by a vegetable lover for vegetable lovers, well balanced in flavor and textures with black radish and fennel for crunch, sprouted legumes for health, pistachios and raisins for a bit of salty and sweet, and a lush slice of prosciutto for garnish. $12; $17.
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2. MARK’S MADISON AVENUE SALAD
Fred’s at Barneys New York

660 Madison Ave., nr. 61st St.; 212-833-2200
Brilliantly designed to prevent unwieldy lettuce leaves from ruining nice Balenciaga jackets, this titanic salad contains Italian tuna, greens, beans, and enough veggies to supply a small farm stand, all chopped into baby-size bites. $23.
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3. “WALDORF” SALAD
An American Place at Lord & Taylor

424 Fifth Ave., nr. 38th St.; 212-827-5068
Frumpy surroundings, yes, but surprisingly satisfying food, including this interpretive Waldorf with turkey, celery, apples, dried cranberries, spiced pecans, and a cheeky mango-chipotle dressing. $12.95.
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4. COBB SALAD
2Eat@Saks

611 Fifth Ave., at 50th St.; 212-753-4000
Given the assumption that the mostly female clientele who eat in department-store cafés aren’t there to pack on the pounds, it’s a wonder that the calorific Cobb enjoys such widespread popularity. In any case, this is a good one, classically divided into neat rows of ingredients over nicely dressed romaine. $18.95.
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5. BENDEL’S SALAD
Alison Nelson’s Chocolate Bar at Henri Bendel

712 Fifth Ave., nr. 56th St.; 212-582-8283
A perfectly fine if a tad humdrum Cobb lite (mixed greens, grilled chicken breast, avocado, buttermilk dressing, etc.), but bonus points for the odd, paper-thin pancetta-like chips that look like something Wylie Dufresne concocted. $19.50.
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6. THE BG SALAD
BG at Bergdorf Goodman

754 Fifth Ave., at 58th St.; 212-872-8977
A whimsical design and park views compete with the food here, and the signature salad seems overpriced for what it is: the usual turkey and ham studded with chickpeas, bacon, a deficit of artichokes and tomatoes, and a stylish ring of deviled eggs. $25.
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7. MARKET SALAD
David Burke at Bloomingdale’s

1000 Third Ave., entrance on 59th St.; 212-705-3800
The envelope-pushing chef’s unripe tomatoes and lackluster greens and an undetectable dressing could not be rescued by a handful of toasted walnuts and a few dabs of goat cheese. $15.95.
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