SALAD DAYS For most of the past decade, Caesar has been the in salad. We think the Cobb salad is the new Caesar. Created in 1926 by Bob Cobb, the owner of the Brown Derby in Los Angeles, the salad began as a way to use up leftovers in the refrigerator. Traditionally the Cobb contains romaine, watercress, avocado, celery, tomato, chicken, and bacon. All the ingredients are neatly arranged on the plate, garnished with boiled egg, chives, and Roquefort cheese, and topped with French dressing. Today's chefs are, of course, taking liberties. Star Canyon's locations in Dallas (3102 Oak Lawn Avenue) and Austin (701 Congress Avenue) boast a zesty "cowboy Cobb" (above), with smoked chicken, roasted peppers, jalapeño jack cheese, charred tomatoes, and tortilla strips. Vallone's in Houston (2811 Kirby Drive) offers a luscious seafood Cobb, with shrimp, bay scallops, lump crab, and Gorgonzola in a red-wine vinaigrette. The two locations of the Mercury (Preston Forest Village, 11909 Preston Road, in Dallas, and the Shops at Willow Bend, 6121 W. Park Boulevard, in Plano) enhance their version with Sweet 100 tomatoes, a thyme-scented demi-glace, and a balsamic reduction. Bob Cobb would be surprised.