As a young girl, the Spencer Lake Tavern was one of my favorite places to go for lunch and dinner with my grandparents. The view of the lake was cozy and comforting no matter the season, the decor was quirky, and it was above all else, familiar. Perhaps the familiarity existed because I had spent so many lunches outside on the deck, freshly towelled off from swimming. Perhaps it was all of the mid-winter dinners I spent there, wrapped in the warmth of comfort food. Some of the familiarity can no doubt be attributed to the ambiance and memories, but most of it can be attributed to their unfussy, consistent flavors that always warmed my belly. Although I loved their grilled roast beef and cheddar sandwich, I think my favorite dish was a simple side salad consisting of lettuce, red onions, black olives, and ranch dressing. I’ve “health-i-fied” this tavern favorite by making it with organic romaine and homemade ranch dressing. The result is so satisfying, so comforting. I hope it evokes familiar memories of a tavern for you, as well.
Cooked, shredded chicken
Sliced black olives
White wine vinegar
Start by making your dressing. Combine ¾ cup sour cream, ½ cup mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, ½ tablespoon minced garlic, ½ tablespoon parsley (fresh or dried), ¾ tablespoon dill (fresh or dried), and several healthy grinds of salt to taste.
Wash and shred romaine. Top with cooked shredded chicken and sliced black olives. I use roughly ½ cup of shredded chicken and ¼ cup of sliced black olives per portion. Next, slice red onions as thinly as possible and cut into half moons. Add ~10 half moons per portion of salad.
Add dressing to salad, toss well, and serve up the nostalgia.