It was midday when I hit the new Cedarhurst Cafe, situated across from the Cedarhurst railroad station. And almost every member of the sizable lunch crowd was eating a big, colorful salad.
I was skeptical about trying something called a portobello spinach burger salad ($14.95), but odd as it sounded, chef co-owner John Cordoba knocked that one out of the park.
There was, first of all, the plump, irresistible vegetable burger itself, which had oatmeal as its main ingredient. A crisp crust yielded to a fluffy interior, its consistency somewhere between soufflé and latke. As I later learned, the burger hadn't been fried but rather brushed with oil and baked in a convection oven. Alongside was a dollop of goat cheese. Underneath was a mountain of mesclun greens tossed with haricots verts, baby zucchini, sun-dried blueberries and cherries, avocado and, for crunch, organic granola. One never knew what the next vibrant, crazy forkful would bring.
A Maine lobster tail salad ($16.95), a special that day, featured a big, fresh out-of-the-shell tail on top of a similarly eccentric mélange, this one incorporating terra chips and mango. Although the salad was supposed to have a balsamic dressing, Cordoba cheerfully whipped up a lemon vinaigrette on request.
Next time, I might ask for a more restrained and somewhat less sweet combination of ingredients. Still, I have to admire what this mad scientist of salads manages to pull off.
Cedarhurst Cafe is at 477 Chestnut St., Cedarhurst, 516-295-1100.
Above: Maine lobster salad with lemon vinaigrette at Cedarhurst Cafe in Cedarhurst