WHEN HARRY MET SALAD

It's prom night. We are witnessing a spontaneous fashion show as seventeen-year-old girls in strapless gowns glide through Remington's in the Sheraton Scottsdale Resort. We hear the rustle of taffeta and the slink of satin as they pass our table. It is a very pleasant sound. Seeing them dredges up memories of my own prom--a dismal country-club affair back in the era of Jethro Tull and Grand Funk Railroad.

These kids don't know how lucky they are. But that's all in the past. Here we are, my ever-faithful dining accomplice Goat and I, fully grown adults with money to spend and time to enjoy a leisurely meal. We have come to the right place. Remington's is a quietly elegant setting for celebrating a special occasion. And the food--well, I'll get to that.

Remington's offers valet parking, which we avoid. I park the car in the self-park portion of the lot and we enter through the lounge area where jazz vocalist Margo Reed regularly performs.

The dining room charms me immediately. We are seated in the first section, which features a dome-shaped ceiling painted to represent the Southwestern sky at dawn. We gaze at this pastel-hued firmament through a rough-hewn arbor supported by four Doric columns. It's really quite lovely. Best of all, the light in this room has the same effect as cheesecloth on a camera lens: Everyone looks a little better.

A tangled mess of delicate onion rings is brought to the table. They are lightly salted and a little greasy, but ever so good. I must refrain from eating too many and spoiling my appetite.

We study the menu. At present, it features classic American selections skewed slightly toward the Pacific Rim and Southwest. What it will be in the near future remains to be seen; our waiter tells us a new menu will be in place within weeks.

In fact, while ordering, we learn the process of change already has begun. Several listed menu items have been altered or are no longer available. That's okay. As usual, we have no trouble finding more than enough to sample.

We relax and look around as we await the deluge of dishes. There appear to be two other main dining areas. In the center room, wing-back chairs, candlestick lamps and a fireplace bring to mind a gracious Greenwich, Connecticut, living room. Outside, a canopied patio offers an unobstructed view of the mountains to the south.

Our few remaining onion rings are removed and rolls are brought. They are positively ordinary. They seem so store-bought I wonder why Remington's would make this kind of mistake.

The boys escorting the prom girls are an interesting lot. They look like the ROTC faction lampooned in Animal House. Later, some longer-haired youths enter with their prom dates. "Skaters," Goat whispers. I wonder if they are old enough to drive! Our appetizers arrive promptly. I love the country-style pø^atø¡e. Served with chopped egg and onion, carrot, cornichon, radish and miniature pieces of toast, I admire its chunky texture and peppery flavor. Why, it's even laced with pistachios. My only complaint is with the quantity of small, tart pickles: One cornichon is just not enough, no matter how you slice it. (Of course, this from a woman who keeps a jar of them in her fridge.)

The poached salmon is refreshing. Ample-sized Norwegian king salmon fillets rest on sour cream and caper sauce, surrounded by tomato and cucumber slices. Salmon lovers alert: Don't miss this dish. I like it, but I finally realize--the smoked version aside, I'm just not a salmon fanatic.

The topic of conversation at the prom table is Pretty Woman. Goat and I worry that young women have been wrongly influenced by the film. We hope they know there are other ways to meet rich men. (And, speaking of rich men, former Circle K czar Karl Eller also is dining here tonight; isn't he bankrupt?)

Our discourse is cut off when our waiter announces he will prepare Goat's caesar salad. (I have opted for the wilted spinach salad with hot bacon dressing.) He wheels a cart tableside and begins. Egg yolks, lettuce, garlic, pepper, Parmesan cheese and lemon are wielded with professional expertise. I note that this guy really cares about making a good salad.

Wait a minute, did I say good? Upon tasting, I discover Remington's caesar salad is excrutiatingly good. It may be the finest I've ever had. I am very sorry the plate is in front of Goat and not me. While he is a generous dining accomplice and allows me to sample at will, I could major in this salad.

The wilted spinach salad, however, is disappointing. The hot bacon and pineapple dressing is too sweet for my taste. The not-too-wilted spinach is clean, placed leaf over leaf and garnished with tomato slivers, sliced mushroom and chopped egg. It just doesn't compare to that ruler of salads, the caesar.

Our salad plates are removed. During this brief rest, our waiter stops by our table: "We're getting ready to bring you your entrø¡ees now. Would you like anything else to drink at this time?" For a second, I think I'm on an airplane. Still, I appreciate service like this: ever-present, friendly, yet not obtrusive.

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