While quizzically inspecting one of my well-worn belts the other day, I decided I could probably stand to eat a few more salads. And I'm not just talking about a salad serving as the prelude to a fat-, carb- and calorie-laden meal, but rather as an end in itself, i.e. the entree salad.

While quizzically inspecting one of my well-worn belts the other day, I decided I could probably stand to eat a few more salads. And I'm not just talking about a salad serving as the prelude to a fat-, carb- and calorie-laden meal, but rather as an end in itself, i.e. the entree salad.

Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot of especially good-for-you contenders out there in restaurant land. Too many are literally cheesy afterthought compilations thoughtlessly thrown together with so-so stuff already lying around the kitchen, which then gets blanketed with a fatty dressing to possibly cover up its lackluster and suspect ingredients.

Recently, I found a healthy, bold and delicious exception to that all-too-prevalent and dreary rule: The Nice Seared Tuna and Vegetable Salad from Third and Hollywood.

Third and Hollywood is the Northstar Cafe's dressier but still casual full-service restaurant in Grandview. While 3&H sticks with the Northstar's commitment to scratch-made dishes carefully constructed with top-notch, as local as possible ingredients, it also provides a full bar with rockin' cocktails (try the killer mojito) and a more evening-appropriate, jazzy mood.

For the tuna salad, only high-test sushi-grade fish is used, and the pristine, immaculate vegetables that accompany it could also withstand the closest of scrutiny. As for the Nice part, it doesn't describe the opposite of bad, but instead refers to a city in France. That's right, this exceptional salad is a play on the famous Salade Nicoise.

In 3&H's hands, the pure-tasting tuna gets a racy Cajun crusting before getting seared and fanned out in an arc across the prettily assembled plate. The lettuce-free salad facing it consists of a colorful and lively jumble of perfect vegetables, including: not-too-bitter frisee; sweet corn; tomatoes that taste like tomatoes; al dente fingerling potatoes; real-deal haricots verts; red pepper slices; super-fresh cucumbers cut into seedless pieces; red onion chunks; briny kalamata olives; and impressive bits of impeccable avocado.

Accenting the wonderful ingredients is a bright and tight and perfectly applied caper-dijon dressing (easy on the mustard), blots of tangy and creamy goat cheese, and wedges of correctly cooked (and this is very rare) hard egg with a still-creamy mouthfeel.

The salad ain't cheap - it's $18 - but aren't your palate and your waistline worth a few dollars more?