Hot Plate

Show of hands, please: Who's ordered a salad because the menu said it came with "goat cheese," only to poke through a hedge of green searching for a nickel-sized medallion of the stuff? Ever felt that your salad should instead be called "goat cheese hide-and-seek salad"? Or maybe "the goat cheese tease"? Benjy Levit, owner of the comfortable culinary corner benjy's (2424 Dunstan, 713-522-7602) in the Rice Village, has addressed this serious situation with his pistachio-crusted goat cheese salad ($10.95). He's reversed the ingredient amounts, placing warm, fat mounds of goat cheese and rounds of toast on a small but tasty pile of lemon-dressed greens. The cheese, mixed with corn and roasted red and yellow peppers, is rolled in a crumbly mix of Japanese bread crumbs and crushed pistachio nuts. Serving the cheese warm enhances its strong, distinctive flavor. The dish is ideal for two people to share as an appetizer, but after those miserly offerings at other restaurants, you may want to keep it all to yourself.
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Carol Rust