Chicken Salad Sandwich at Bergey’s Something to Cheer On – The Virginian Pilot
I’m a big fan of chicken salad and all its variations.
My grandmother, who raised me from an early age, made a wonderful, simple chicken salad with large chunks of diced poultry, thinly sliced celery, and a simple seasoning of salt and pepper. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, when I owned my catering business, An Entertaining Idea, my chicken salad was the big seller.
In my version, I stew the bird with lots of flavors, pulling both white and dark pieces into thin threads. A dressing of mayonnaise and spices, including a hint of curry, dresses the chicken, celery and onion.
But I’m open minded. Throw in grapes? OK. Add some chopped pecans? Thumbs up in my books. I love trying different types from different places, and loved the traditional classic twist, which I recently enjoyed as a sandwich at one of the region’s true culinary gems, Bergey’s Breadbasket.
Now, before a careful reader who knows what I’ve written about mayonnaise in the past wonders if I’ve switched to the dark side, let me explain.
The only chicken salad I’m not a fan of is one with too much mayonnaise. There are foods I don’t like, but one thing I loathe and it’s mayo — when used as a condiment or as the base of a dressing or sauce. But just enough to bind a dish like chicken salad and add texture but no flavor is something I can appreciate as an ingredient.
THE FOOD: HOMEMADE CHICKEN SALAD SANDWICH, WHOLE, $8.29
Many people think of Bergey’s Breadbasket, the idyllic farm, for its sweets. The delicious ice cream, hand-made in crispy cones, is hard to beat even in winter.
And the cakes – don’t get me started on the cakes. Peaches are in season now, but I’ll order an apple or pumpkin later in the year. And the classic Amish Shoo Fly is a year-round favorite.
Then there are the fruitcakes for Christmas and all the cookies, muffins and more.
But they also have a deli with a concise selection of wonderful sandwiches, all served on freshly baked bread.
On a recent summer day, with the temperature hovering in the 100s, my partner Douglas and I stopped by for a light, refreshing lunch and we were immediately drawn to the homemade chicken salad sandwich.
In the mix: White meat chicken, grapes and celery in a special sweet dressing, served with lettuce, tomato and red onion on wheat. The lettuce ends up getting a sunny yellow hue, most likely from the ingredients in the dressing.
All components for a perfect dish. The chicken was cut into fairly large pieces and was tender and moist. There was just enough grapes and celery in the mix to add some texture and flavor but still allow the bird to be the star. And that special sweet dressing held it all together.
It’s not overly sweet, but the note it adds plays well with the other ingredients and is a big part of what makes the chicken salad addictive. There is also a nice underlying twang that brings additional elements to the party.
The bread the sandwich is served on is soft and pliable and a great platform for the generous amount scooped onto it. Crisp lettuce, sweet tomatoes and spicy onions add interest.
For a side, I ordered the Amish Macaroni Salad, priced at $1.99. The macaroni was tender and chopped veggies, including celery and onion, gave it some texture as a contrast. They have to use the same special sweet sauce they use for the chicken salad to tie the macaroni together as the result has a similar hue and underlying flavor profile. It was wonderful.
The sandwich is also available halfway for $4.59. If you want to serve the chicken salad at home, Bergey’s sells two pounds of the dish along with four to-go sandwich buns for $27.95.
For dessert, we enjoyed one of the sweets that caught the eye at this former dairy-turned-deli-bakery (and kids’ petting zoo): a carrot cake muffin.
The muffin was dense, rich and decadent. Full of flavor, the cake was accented with baking spices balanced by the creamy cream cheese frosting. I admit it, I licked the paper lining.
THE DRINK: PENNSYLVANIA DUTCH DIET BIRCH BIRCH BEER, CAN
There is no alcohol at Mennonite-run Bergey’s, but a selection of soft drinks is available. I took a can of Pennsylvania Dutch diet birch beer.
It’s been made since 1936 and has a decidedly old-school flavor among sodas. Birch beer, which is made from birch bark, also has a similar but slightly different taste to root beer, which is made from sassafras root and bark.
The can was ice cold and welcome on a hot day. The drink had a good attraction to the dishes enjoyed.
Bergey’s Breadbasket is located at 2207 Mount Pleasant Road, Chesapeake. Call 757-546-9225 or visit us www.BergeysBreadbasket.com.
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A LA CARTE
take one Lasagna and Wine Tour of Italy at Pizza Bellavista. The event starts on August 1st from 6pm to 9pm.
The dinner will showcase three popular lasagna dishes from different regions of Italy, with wine director Angela Signorelli presenting curated wine pairings with each course. The meal begins with locally sourced tomato bruschetta over homemade focaccia and burrata, and ends with an olive oil cake and Marsala banana topping. The cost is $75 per person.
Pizza Bella Vista is located at 927 N. Battlefield Blvd., Chesapeake. Call 757-478-7783 or visit us www.PBVPizzeria.com.
Sunday Jazz Brunch Series at Soulivia’s Art + Soul Cafe continues on August 3rd and 10th. The brunch takes place on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in front of a live band. The performances, which take place from around 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., feature changing bands.
Soulivia’s Art + Soul Restaurant is located at 141 Hillcrest Parkway, Chesapeake. Call 757-908-2355 or visit us www.SoulviasArtAndSoul.com.
Patrick Evans-Hylton, [email protected]