The power of minimality is imperative when dressing a meal. The beauty of different hues synchronized with one another on white porcelain can amplify the appetite of a consumer. Any chef out there knows this. Regardless of the kaleidoscopic artwork chefs forge with the ingredients they are tasked to blend, the entire meal itself must carry the same impact of taste that it does with color. Colors invoke a bevy of feelings but the taste of food only needs to satisfy precise emotions, chiefly satisfaction and relief (of hunger).
Nobody sobs when southern-style buttermilk chicken flirts with his or her taste buds. Nor do they have to cease eating the Raindrop Cake because it reminds them of tears and sadness. As beautiful as this relationship is with the completeness of food, it is still a relationship and as you know from your middle school crushes and high school mistakes, those can be rather asymmetrical. Avocados, I am talking to you.
In the alleyway of Uptown 596, the sun beamed gingerly through the clouds onto the clean picnic table that faced me. My mood was pleasant because there was enough breeze to make me forget the weather was in the high 80s. I ordered an apple and ginger juice that strangely mimicked the sweet taste of piña colada. That kept me settled as I waited for my Fisherman’s Salad, a dish that included a base of arugula salad, toppled with cool crab meat, scattered grilled shrimp as an add-on, diced tomatoes and sliced avocado, covered with house mustard lime vinaigrette.
As my order came out, my eyes were animated, wide and glossy like Anime. The colors were captivating. Greens on top of greens cemented the mountain of food, while the crab meat tossed with shredded carrots performed as the snow. Think cauliflower sprouting out of a baby tomato garden. Let’s not forget the grilled shrimp, which acted like a subtle liaison to the evident green and white affair. All of this color talk is even making my eyes hungry. It was time to eat. Then it hit me.
Avocados, in my observation, work as a great compliment to the oft-desired “California burger” that has become increasingly popular over the years on the East Coast (Now if only we could get an In-N-Out Burger). The avocado, a smooth criminal in fact, adds vegetation to burgers that already tower 6 inches into your hands, filled with heart stopping ingredients.
The avocado provides an excuse for you to let loose. It could very well be the only green thing on that burger, you so easily shove down your kisser. It works with bread and beef or turkey or whatever your meat choice is on a burger but when avocado has to blend in with its own kind in the arugula field with tomatoes to add to that, it can be draining, almost exhausting.
First off, there was an enormous amount of arugula. I thought I was going to sprout a garden in my throat with the amount of greens I was shoving down there. It was so much that I didn’t even end up finishing half of it. The shrimp had a smokey taste to it, but it was great with the essence of lemon squeezed on it. I could have very well forgotten I paid an extra $5 for it. The crab meat was regular. Just average. The arugula and avocado dominated the salad so much that it left no room to appreciate the crab meat or the shrimp.
I know it was a salad but I also know that I paid nearly $20 for the seafood in the salad. I would have expected that aspect of the meal to be displayed more. With so much green on my plate, you would think a sense of balance would spring to my mind. Nope. Just grass. That’s all I kept thinking of. Myself consuming a plate load of grass. I didn’t even have room for the chocolate cake my friends got, complimented with a dark raspberry sauce and whipped cream. Guess the Fisherman’s Salad fooled me. Thought he’d have more love for crustaceans than grass.
Uptown 596 is located at 596 Valley Rd, Montclair, NJ 07043