The flavor trends in the modern American tavern revolve around keeping dishes familiar but adding touches that elevate the flavor experience. Chef David French took a twist on the classic Italian panzanella salad so it both fit within the tavern model and stood out with unique flavor and texture. “Our take on this classic replaces the main ingredient of stale bread that’s been soaked in olive oil and tomatoes with housemade pretzel bread and romaine hearts that have been tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper, then grilled on very hot coals, adding a smoky, deeper flavor,” he says. He then adds baby spinach, red onion, capers and fried goat cheese, finishing with a balsamic glaze. The pretzel bread is such a simple switch, but deftly moves the salad into tavern territory. “This salad has the smoke from the grill, the salt and chew from the pretzel bread, the punch and zest from the capers, onion and balsamic glaze and an earthy quality from the goat cheese,” says French. The combination seems to be working for Kennebec Tavern. “It’s been a huge hit with our customer base since we first put it on as a special,” he says. It’s a staple on the menu now, and customers often add grilled chicken or roasted salmon to the dish.