With Vicente Capala, Multimedia Editor
Anchorage Food Quest has investigated some rather specialized foods in the past, but none so far have been as uniquely Alaskan as a salmon salad.
Salmon salad sounds like something fairly easy to come by, but as TNL discovered on our search, it actually isn’t as common as it seems, even at seafood restaurants. And some places in town that have an established salmon salad on the menu aren’t under 21-friendly. So, because we had a craving and a co-Quester under the age of 21, TNL got a little creative and found five delicious salmon salads to review that anyone can enjoy.
Fire Tap: Caesar Salad with Salmon – Fire Tap on O’Malley offers the option to add salmon to its caesar salad and offers two sizes as well. The small size, which totaled $10, was almost enough to feed two, but not quite. There was less salmon (which was smoked and in chunks smaller than the croutons) and the veggies didn’t taste quite as fresh. Between the dressing and grated Parmesan cheese, the dish was on the salty side as well, and you could barely taste the ground pepper. Overall, the dish was delicious, but it just wasn’t up to par with the others.
Momma O’s: Salmon and Salad – Momma O’s is a small restaurant on Spenard across from Bear Tooth. They don’t have salmon salad on the menu, but for $13.95 they do serve a salmon steak with a salad. Just put the salmon on top of the salad and dig in. The salad comes with cucumbers, tomatoes, broccoli and thick slices of carrot, and is very fresh looking (and tasting). TNL went with a ranch dressing, but there are other options available as well. The dressing had a little something added in, not your standard ranch, and it made the experience a bit more unique. The salmon steak was huge (as was the salad portion) and piping hot, fresh off the grill. The warmth of the salmon mixed with the cool salad and dressing was a welcome change from a few of the other salads. Despite how good it was, the salmon skin was overcooked, and it added a burnt taste to the dish. It’s still worth getting though, and the portion size is more than large enough for two.
Sea Galley: Caesar Salad with Salmon – Sea Galley on Credit Union Drive doesn’t technically offer salmon as an option for their dinner Caesar salad, but if you ask nicely (and pay a chunk of extra money), they’ll grill a steak up for you and throw it on there prettily. This salad will set you back about $16.95 (making it the most expensive on the list), but it is also the largest salad — more than enough for two hungry people — and filling as well. This salad had quite a bit of dressing, but it still didn’t saturate the salad. The small croutons had a hint of ranch flavor, making them stand out, and the greens were fresh and crisp. The salmon itself was warm, but not too hot to overcompensate the cool salad, and very flavorful without being too fishy. The Parmesan cheese also added texture and flavor that the cheese on the other salads lacked. The service was also good, especially given the special order. Despite being expensive, the salad is very filling, and would be worth it to take home for leftovers (or splitting with a friend).
Moose’s Tooth: Caesar Salad with Salmon – Like Fire Tap, Moose’s Tooth (on Old Seward) offers a Caesar with salmon option. The large salad, which feeds two people comfortably, is about $12.25, making it one of the cheaper options on the list. Also like Fire Tap, the salmon is smoked and in chunks small enough to give dimes an ego boost. However, there is a lot of it. The salad was lightly coated in Caesar dressing, so lightly that it leaves the greens almost dry; if you’re a fan of dressing, make sure to ask for some extra to drizzle on top. Moose’s Tooth also offers ground pepper tableside when the salad is delivered instead of mixing it in beforehand. The smoked salmon is full of flavor, but it blends rather than oppresses the rest of the dish, and the salmon is room temperature, making it fade to background even more. The price, service and overall taste of the salad make it a very strong second place.
Snow City Cafe: Blackened Salmon Salad – Snow City on W. 4th Avenue has the most original and delicious salmon salad in town, hands down. This dish, which costs $14.95, is full of rich dark colors, and substitutes raspberry vinaigrette for the usual creamy dressings. It also includes strawberry relish and sunflower seeds (which adds the crunchy texture that would have been missing without the croutons). The vinaigrette is light and sweet, as is the relish, and is a complete turnaround from the other dishes. The salmon portion is relatively small, but the salad makes up for it in flavor. It is seasoned with spices that give it a fairly impressive bite, one quelled and complimented by the sweetness of the vinaigrette and relish. The flavors together are just as impressive as they are separate. The only downfall is that the portion size is just a hair too small to fill two hungry people. The salad is also only a special running for the month of July, which is a shame, because this dish is so delicious and delightfully unique that a restaurant would be nuts to discontinue it after a month. Snow City, do us all a favor and keep it on the menu, TNL would order it all the time.
Next issue, TNL will be looking to find Anchorage’s best omelet, so join in the conversation on our Facebook page and tell us where we should go.