About a year ago I wrote a column for this newspaper where I mentioned the iceberg wedge. The iceberg wedge, in case you’re unaware, is a salad made famous after a formerly unexciting lettuce known as “crisphead” was rechristened the far sexier name, “iceberg,” as a rebrand. The lettuce was renamed in hopes it could gain favor as a lettuce that traveled well; it was shipped across the country packed in ice, this being the days before refrigerated train cars. Appreciated more for durability than taste, the rather bland, some say tasteless, California lettuce soon became a staple in trendy east coast dining rooms. While iceberg wedge salad was widely maligned by many, it gained favor with famed foodie James Beard, a Gearhart native, who was supportive of the dish.
A modern wedge salad normally appears plated as wedges of iceberg lettuce covered with chunks of blue cheese, bacon flakes, diced tomato, and scallion slices. I’ve had it served with hard-boiled egg. I’ve had it served with croutons. I’ve seen balsamic vinaigrette fill in for blue cheese dressing. To make it seem more substantial and dinner-like, some restaurants offer add-ons like grilled shrimp, grilled chicken, crab cake, even thinly sliced steak.
After my piece ran last year, Matt Brown, the mayor of Gearhart, approached me.
“Did you know my favorite salad is the iceberg wedge?” he said.
“Have you had the wedge salad in Cannon Beach at The Driftwood?” the mayor asked.
“You must try it,” he said. “It’s literally the best version of the salad I’ve had anywhere.”
A couple of weeks ago I gave reiki to a friend. Have I mentioned I’m a reiki master? Instead of cash payment, I suggested she take me out to lunch. I already had it in my mind to go to the Driftwood and order their wedge salad.
A week or so before our lunch date, I’d been at the Cannon Beach Chamber awards where, if I’m not mistaken, the Driftwood won recognition for their great service. Celebrating 75 years in business, the staff works hard to impress locals and tourists, not an easy task.
The Driftwood specializes in steaks and seafood. They serve halibut, Coho salmon, Willapa Bay oysters, filet mignon, rib eye, and baby back ribs. Among their classic salad offerings are Cobb and Crab Louie. It’s hard to believe anybody goes just for the Wedge salad, but that was my plan.
My friend ordered the rib eye steak sandwich served on a grilled rustic roll. It was 6 ounces of aged rib eye, grilled to her liking. The Wedge salad was crisp Iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, bacon pieces, and crumbled bleu cheese drizzled in a house made bleu cheese dressing. My friend ate half her sandwich and took home the other half. I ate all my salad.
But I took this picture first.