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Return of the Iceberg

This retro lettuce is first-class again in Dallas’ luxury steakhouses.
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When the titanic steakhouses sink, all that will be left is the iceberg wedge, a salad that returned from the ’50s in the wake of the ’90s beef wave. It’s the anti-gourmet of the dinner salad-the greens aren’t “wild” or “gathered” or “baby” or even assorted. The Wedge salad is just a hunk of grassy-tasting iceberg lettuce, the unfashionably pale-hued green that has been eschewed by chic chefs for the past two decades in favor of exotica and the all-conquering Caesar.

Big presentation and simple preparation is the mantra of the meat restaurants, and the Wedge fits the theme. You have to cut into the dependably crisp tower of lettuce with a knife and eat it in chunks the way you slice a three-inch filet.

In the old days, a T-bone steak, a Wedge salad, and a martini (or two) made a respectable lunch. Now the lettuce is attired in more sophisticated garb according to the whim of the cher.

Pappas Bros. Steakhouse formalizes the new Wedge by sprinkling it with a confetti of chopped spring onions, slivered tomatoes, and shredded carrot and presenting it on a parsley-dusted plate. Then it’s garnished with a saved-from-Caesar dark green romaine leaf. (That’s .69 for the salad; $1.29 for the garnish.) Here are some of our recent sightings.

Capital Grille

The Wedge is the top-selling appetizer at Capital Grille. Customers come here looking for simple, straightforward food, and this simple salad provides: a third of a head of iceberg, topped with Roquefort dressing and chopped bacon with three slices of vine-ripened cluster tomatoes, served on a chilled plate. $4.95. 500 Crescent Court. 214-303-0500.

The Palm

Newer customers prefer the Caesar salad, but the older regulars order the Wedge. The Palm offers half a head on its side, on an unchilled plate, with two slices of beefsteak tomato. No garnish on this elemental salad-just a choice of garlic French, house vinaigrette, or Roquefort. $5.00. 70! Ross Ave, 214-698-0470.

Chamberlain’s

Spinach and chophouse outsell the iceberg salad, and Chamberlain’s is a contemporary steakhouse, so Richard C. resisted putting the Wedge on his menu. But tradition won out. “It’s too simplistic a salad,” he laments, “but 1 still remember Wedge salad from my childhood in Galveston. I can see it sitting on the plate with the best Thousand Island salad dressing T ever had.” He serves the Wedge with a creamy homemade blue cheese dressing (it’s his wife’s favorite). Half a head, on a chilled plate-no garnish. $3.95.5330 Belt Line Rd., Addison. 972-934-2467.

Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse

l The dinner salad is the top salad, but Del’s serves the Wedge, too-a quarter of a head, with your choice of blue cheese, honey mustard, or Avocado Goddess dressing, in a chilled bowl, with no tomatoes and no garnish. $3.95. 5251 Spring Valley Rd. 972-490-9000.

Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse

People come come back to basics at a steak place. Iceberg salad has been on Ruth’s Chris’ menu for 33 years-a quarter of a head with your choice of lots of creamy blue cheese, rémoulade. Thousand Island, French, or homemade dressing, $3.95. Multiple locations. 214-902-8080.

Pappas Bros. Steakhouse

The steakhouse theme is as simple as possible, depending on the best ingredients like prime beef and iceberg. Big is good, loo, with steak. The salad is simple on the plate, but its height is impressive at the same time. You have to cut into the iceberg with a serrated knife (like a steak). Pappas serves a half-head, cut around the core, on a chilled soup plate with a house vinaigrette of aged sherry and extra-virgin oil. $3.95. 10477 Lombardy Ln. 214-366-2000.

Sullivan’s

The restaurant’s concept is based on a bare-fisted fighter, so Sullivan’s serves a macho meal. The Wedge is served-no choice-with chunky crumbled blue cheese and diced roma tomatoes, and the cost is included in the price of the meal. 17795 N Dallas Pkwy. 972-267-9393.

Bob’s Steak & Chop House

Bob’s doesn’t put the Wedge on the menu, but people ask for it all the time-and the kitchen happily obliges, serving a third of a head of lettuce (at certain times of the year, they’re smaller) with house vinaigrette, blue cheese, honey poppy, or ranch dressing poured over the top. The plates are chilled, and you only get tomatoes if you ask for them. $4.95. 4300 Lemmon Ave. 214-528-9446.

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