My new favorite salad

I went to brunch on Saturday at The Fireplace in Brookline. Now those who know me know that I'm a creature of habit. Although I like trying new and different things, many times I end up ordering my old standby dishes. The Fireplace's Crispy Duck Hash with Fried Eggs & Toast is just one of those dishes. I read the menu, I'm interested in many dishes, I order the duck hash. That's just how it goes.

This time I was famished and decided to get a starter and I'm so glad I did. Like many New American restaurants the name of the dish almost seems larger than the dish itself. I ordered the Fried Vermont Goat Cheese with Heirloom Beets, Candied Cashews, Dried Apricots, Frisé, Baby Spinach and Vermont Maple Vinaigrette. I love goat cheese and beets - the combination is just heavenly with the creamy, tart goat cheese and the sweet roasted beets. Add in some toasted walnuts and the lightest touch of vinaigrette and it's perfection.

You can see why this salad caught my eye but I was unsure about the additions that could easily mar the simplicity of the original salad I loved. My worry was for naught, all the components worked beautifully together. The large slices of golden beets were topped with a mixture of greens, lightly dressed (I hate when restaurants over dress their salads), sprinkled with the cashews and apricots. The generous goat cheese timbale topped off the salad and was perfectly fried, crisp on the outside but not greasy, soft and creamy on the inside. The serving was ample and filled me up. My poor duck hash, as delicious as ever, was almost an afterthought to this meal and was relegated to the doggie bag.

It was a perfect meal - great atmosphere, great conversation, amazing food. The only unfortunate thing was the feeling of being rushed by the waitstaff. Had there been a line of customers waiting I could understand the need to turn over the table, but there were empty tables and no line. But I will forgive it just so I can go back for the salad. I can't wait to have it again. Hmmm, maybe this weekend?

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