Battle of the Dishes

Picnic Pick: Chicken Salad Sandwich

There are few foods more perfect for springtime noshing than the classic chicken salad sandwich. It's cool and refreshing, but still hearty and filling.

While the dish seems simple, chicken, mayonnaise, celery and seasoning, getting the right mix - especially not overdoing the mayo - can be tricky.

To find out who has the best chicken salad sandwich we visited the quintessential outdoor picnic spots in the Valley: The Farm at South Mountain and Joe's Farm Grill.

In one corner: The Farm Kitchen at the Farm at South Mountain, 6106 S. 32nd St., Phoenix.

The Farm Kitchen is laid-back, but pricey; our sandwich with no sides was $9.95. After ordering food, you're free to sit at round four-seater tables or more family-style seating at picnic tables. Take refuge in the relaxing atmosphere, shade of many trees and refreshing scents of fresh herbs and flowers.

Our chicken salad sandwich was ready pretty quickly. Toothpicks kept the mounds of chicken, lettuce and tomatoes in place. The salad itself was a bit salty, but the smooth taste of fresh tarragon rounded out the flavors. It lacked the good crunch of celery or pecans, which were cut very small and mixed into the salad.

The French bread was really the highlight. It was soft and obviously quite fresh.

In the other corner: Joe's Farm Grill, 3000 E. Ray Rd., Gilbert

Joe's Farm Grill shares a lot of the same ambiance as The Farm Kitchen. You get to eat outside under shade trees and indulge in the fresh smells of produce and herbs.

However, Sundays at Joe's should be avoided - unless you want to wait in line for 30 minutes to even order and then another 20 minutes for food.

Joe's is much cheaper than The Farm Grill, $6.99 for the Chicken Salad Sandwich plus a side. There are many sides to choose from, but we got the fresh beet salad. Maybe that's why it took so long; they were pulling the beets from the field next door.

This chicken salad had a strong curry foundation, which made the combination of curry powder and mayo really thick and left a coating in our mouths. It was also much sloppier to eat than The Farm Kitchen version - a fork was eventually utilized.

Because of the curry, larger cuts of celery and addition of golden raisins and green onion, this salad had a more complex flavor profile.

Unfortunately, the multigrain bun did it no justice. It was very dry, almost stale tasting.

Winner (based almost entirely on bread): The Farm Kitchen

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Megan Dobransky
Contact: Megan Dobransky