Ô Gourmet French Café & Bakery. 32341 Camino Capistrano, Suite F, San Juan Capistrano. 949.388.5811. www.ogourmetcafe.com

A good Niçoise salad is a contradiction. It should be robust in flavor and texture, while also creamy and indulgent. It should punch and comfort in the way sipping a single-malt whisky might.

At Ô Gourmet French Café & Bakery, they don’t stifle the flavors that make the Niçoise salad characteristic. Instead, two powerful anchovy mini-filets and ample chunk tuna marry delicate hard-boiled eggs and an acidic, fruit-forward vinaigrette. Thinly sliced potatoes, cooked green beans and fresh spring greens are a receptive vehicle through which the flavors of the salad are on display.

Ô’s Niçoise is a study in balancing temperature as well, as the warmed green beans and potatoes amplify the flavor of the fish and provide a palate-pleasing contrast to the cool lettuce and tomatoes.

There’s a justifiable “yeah right,” reflex that emanates when someone gushes about a salad, but Ô’s take on this classic is worthy of praise… and a try.

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