Virtue_greens.png Virtue
Collards and smoked turkey

Leaves that come to life

Kale isn’t quite a cliché — yet. But chefs are digging deeper into the garden for leafy greens of a different color.

Collards and smoked turkey
Erick Williams, chef, Virtue, Hyde Park, Chicago
Price: $8
Chef Erick Williams named Virtue in the literal sense: it’s a restaurant that aims to lead with a culture of respect, dignity, hospitality and kindness. It’s been called “soigné soul food” and that’s evident from the stylishly presented secret family recipes shared by Williams at the newly opened spot, coming on strong in the first month of operation with a layered approach to the food of the American South, including gumbo, gizzards, Geechie boy grits and greens served in different combinations. The collard greens here are sopping up the flavor of smoked turkey.

Winter salad
Jeffrey Wall, executive chef/owner, Alderwood, Santa Cruz, Calif.
Price: $15
This gluten-free salad looks like a cloudy winter day in coastal California. Alderwood opened just months ago, the latest project for Jeffrey Wall, who moved to California after opening Atlanta’s Kimball House and Denver’s Hearth & Dram. There’s an impressive amount of wood-fired steak on the menu, but Wall is clearly cognizant of the veggie bounty surrounding him now. With walnuts, squash oil and daffodil cheese (a Monterey County raw sheep’s milk cheese), the deep color of the red leaf lettuce sets the mood. Other greens pop up in drinks at Alderwood too, as in the gimlet that features sorrel. (Photo by Elizabeth Birnbaum)

Duck heart toast with chicory
A.J. Walker, chef de cuisine, Anker, Chicago
Price: $15
Anker, One Off Hospitality Group’s Wicker Park eatery, feels like a living room with lovely mismatched china and a neighborhood vibe. While it’s comfy here, the chefs don’t shy away from serving what the heart wants — especially when that’s an actual heart. The charcoal grilled duck heart is served on toasty sourdough bread and suited up with blue cheese, Tabasco crema and vinegary pepper jelly, but the real heart-stopping contrast comes from the coarsely chopped leaves of bitter, spicy chicory, a nutrient-rich green that’s sprouting up on menus a lot lately. (Photo courtesy of Peden and Munk)

Beet and watercress salad
Alexis Martin Woodall and Dave Woodall, Red Herring, Los Angeles
Price: $12
At Red Herring, a “love letter to dining out” from husband and wife duo Chef Dave Woodall and Alexis Martin Woodall, the focus is on comfort food with a side of Hollywood glamour. This salad puts watercress in a starring role with a backdrop of spinach, freekeh, walnuts, mint leaves and rustic pepato (an aged, salty sheep’s milk cheese with bite). Watercress — as its name suggests — is an aquatic plant with hollow stems that float, making it perfect for hydroponic cultivation. And although it’s 95 percent water, watercress is super-rich in vitamins A, C and B6. (Photo by Red Herring)

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