Chicken Salad Chick, a fast-casual restaurant serving chicken salad, opens today at Oxford Exchange. This has many people terribly excited, and other people asking, “But it’s just chicken salad, right?”
First of all, it’s a dozen kinds of chicken salad.
And some of us — OK, mainly women — don’t always want a burger for lunch.
Southerners are very particular about their chicken salad. Shredded chicken or chunks of chicken? Heavy or light on the mayo? Nuts or no nuts? The variations are endless and subtle.
There is an actual chick behind Chicken Salad Chick: founder Stacy Brown, who was a stay-at-home mom in Auburn when she started selling her homemade chicken salad door-to-door.
The different varieties of chicken salad are named after real people, mainly Brown’s friends, family, neighbors and college roommates. Last fall’s featured flavor, True Blue Betty, honored Betty McWhorter, wife of Earlon McWhorter, former residents of Anniston who partnered with Chicken Salad Chick several years ago as it was preparing to open its first franchise. (By the end of 2019, there will be more than 150 Chicken Salad Chicks in 13 states.)
We got to sample 14 flavors of chicken salad at the new Oxford Exchange restaurant earlier this week:
This is the chicken salad that started it all. It’s basic but good: shredded white-meat chicken, finely minced celery and flavorful mayo (none of this would work without good mayo). Classic Carol is the base for all the other flavors.
I am one of those people who likes grapes and pecans in my chicken salad. The Fancy Nancy delivers — and throws in bits of crunchy apple as well.
Apples, grapes — and pineapple! It never occured to me that pineapple would be so good in chicken salad. I’m ordering this one every time.
Ranch dressing, bacon and cheddar cheese. If you like them on potato skins, you’ll like them in chicken salad.
Lauryn’s Lemon Basil
Chopped pecans, lemon and a generous handful of fresh basil.
Sliced cucumbers and loads of fresh dill. It’s like a scoop of summer.
A limited-time flavor, with fresh tarragon and Dijon mustard. You gotta like tarragon, which is a little bit sweet and a little bit licorice.
Kickin’ Kay Lynne
Buffalo sauce, ranch dressing, bacon, cheddar cheese, jalapenos and Sriracha sauce. This wasn’t nearly as hot as I thought it would be.
Chicken salad meets barbecue sauce.
Chicken salad meets Buffalo sauce. This one brought the heat.
Olivia’s Old South
Sweet pickles and tiny pieces of hard-boiled egg. Simple and surprisingly good.
Finely diced jalapenos. Lots of them.
Dried cranberries and toasted almonds. The nuts add crunch and flavor.
The Dixie Chick
Basic chicken salad but with lots of onion, which adds depth and complexity and is totally worth the onion-breath.
Chicken salad is available by the scoop or on a sandwich. There’s also pimento cheese and egg salad for the vegetarians. Sides include broccoli salad, grape salad, pasta salad, fresh fruit and mac-and-cheese. There’s also a garden salad, a soup-of-the day and a kids’ menu.
Chicken Salad Chick is at 501 Oxford Exchange Blvd. (near Olive Garden, and two doors down from where Five Guys is supposed to open in a couple of months). Open Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Closed on Sundays so employees get a day off.
Lisa Davis is Features Editor of The Anniston Star. Contact her at 256-235-3555 or email@example.com.