“Have you ever ever tried Rooster Salad Chick?” I requested certainly one of my daughter’s associates as we cruised previous certainly one of their three Central Florida areas.

She hadn’t.

“I like rooster salad. I ought to attempt that place.”

My daughter didn’t roll her eyes, however she’d have been justified. I had an equivalent dialog with a distinct buddy the week earlier than. I’ve requested different individuals, too. I could not have run into any of the individuals who dine at this Southern-inspired fast-casual eatery — I haven’t had any of them in my automotive, at the very least — however likely, there are lots of, because the Chick has hatched a 247-store franchise empire since its humble, eat-local beginnings in Auburn, Alabama, the place founder Stacy Brown opened her first store in 2008.

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I’m not one for the chain gang. That is well-documented. Even so, sampling is a part of the job description, and extra importantly, I, too, have a busy life that may be made extra handy by way of fast-casual ease. I imply, Rooster Salad Chick even has a drive-thru.

I didn’t use it, although. I wished to take a look at the joint, and so swooped into the Oviedo location (Hey! Chickens!) late on a latest afternoon. The place is sizeable and ethereal and appeared sparkly-clean. A few people have been camped out, having fun with some eats.

One appeared via together with his meal and labored quietly on a laptop computer. One other appeared like a mother grabbing a chunk earlier than heading out to shuttle a number of younger prices from an exercise (Solidarity, my sister!). She munched contentedly on a scoop whereas scrolling on her telephone. Blissful alone time, the scene learn. The decor right here is brilliant and fashionable however not overly both. Southern-cute, I’d name it. If fast-casual eateries have been a throw pillow setting, the Chick’s may say “Bless Your Coronary heart” or characteristic transient and intelligent odes to candy tea.

Clean lined, inside and out: Chicken Salad Chick's Oviedo location. (Amy Drew Thompson/Orlando Sentinel)
Clear-lined, inside and outside: Rooster Salad Chick’s Oviedo location. (Amy Drew Thompson/Orlando Sentinel)

What I cherished even earlier than I met the useful counter peeps (unintentional chick-related humorous proper there) was the Fast Chick cooler, a grab-and-go station full of contemporary gadgets in two sizes. I grabbed a small container of egg salad and two rooster salads — Traditional Carol and Fruity Fran (all $6.99 every) — earlier than continuing additional.

Dig the names? Me, too. The story on the positioning says that each taste is impressed by, and named for, a particular girl in Brown’s life (there’s a gaggle photograph through which every holds an indication ID’ing their salad).

As somebody who loved a one-day stint as an Orlando Meats breakfast sandwich particular that cooks affirm nobody ever ordered, I surmise that rooster salad immortality is probably going a excessive honor amongst Brown’s family and friends.

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Counter service was beneficiant and useful. Granted, I used to be the one one there, but when I had a nickel for each Yelp evaluation that includes bartenders who stand round cleansing glassware and kibbitzing with co-workers whereas parched patrons sit there unattended, I’d nonetheless be in Tahiti. So, props to the peeps who graciously defined the soups (I attempted the rooster tortilla, which was thicker and had extra kick than anticipated), sides and such.

For combos, the strategy is “choose your chick,” which suggests sandwich or scoop. I went with the latter and selected the Kickin’ Kay Lynne, which was billed because the spiciest of the three scorching hens (extra rooster puns), that includes buffalo sauce, jalapeños and sriracha, amongst different mix-ins. The platter got here with a pickle spear, a great deal of crackers and a scoop of spicy pimento cheese as one facet.

Nice combo for under $10. Kickin' Kay Lynne alongside spicy pimento cheese with grape salad and a cute lil' cookie. You can get the chicken salad in a sandwich, too. (Amy Drew Thompson/Orlando Sentinel)
Good combo for underneath $10. Kickin’ Kay Lynne alongside spicy pimento cheese with grape salad and a cute lil’ cookie. You will get the rooster salad in a sandwich, too. (Amy Drew Thompson/Orlando Sentinel)

The grape salad featured what to pre-Southern dwelling me would have been the exceedingly weird mélange of pink and white seedless grapes in a considerably sugary cream cheese-based dressing, then topped with crushed pecans. Shock: It wasn’t dangerous! The grapes have been snappy and contemporary, and I’m unsure, however there appeared to be one thing salty in there, too, offsetting the sweetness.

The grape pores and skin, nutty-crunchy pecans and lightweight hand on the dressing all contributed. (However, even with half my life spent dwelling under the Mason-Dixon, together with what Central Floridians would take into account the ACTUAL south of Atlanta, I drew the road on the brown sugar topping, which is in any other case commonplace for this facet.)

The platter was very beneficiant for $9.19.

I’ve to admit, I maintain attempting pimento cheese — I’ve sampled many — however ought to in all probability start dealing with the truth that I’d simply not just like the stuff. My lunch companion, nevertheless, loved it very a lot on all ranges, from texture to warmth degree.

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Rooster salad right here is completed with shredded breast meat with an expert-level mayo ratio. The Traditional Carol was as described. One may simply jazz this up with some seasonings or mix-ins at residence, but it surely’s one thing I may simply return to. The shock for me was that I most well-liked the Fruity Fran, with crunchy Fuji apples, seedless white grape halves and bits of pineapple, to the Kickin’ Kay Lynne, which was nonetheless tasty. I discovered it a tad over-salted. On my subsequent go to, I’d in all probability go for the Jalapeño Holly, which doesn’t have as a lot occurring ingredient-wise and certain offers each salad and crisp, spicy add-ins an opportunity to shine and complement.

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The combo meal, by the way in which, additionally included an exceptionally tasty mini buttercream-frosted cookie, lemon.

Notable: Final yr, Rooster Salad Chick donated greater than $40,000 because of the cash raised via Cookies for a CURE, which supported pediatric most cancers analysis. This yr, all through September, they’re doing it once more. Purchase a cookie (bigger than the one in my takeaway field), and a portion of the proceeds will fund focused analysis and assist for sufferers and households.

One other strong cause, together with simple low-carb and gluten-free choices, to take a look at the Chick. I’m glad I lastly did.

For those who go

Rooster Salad Chick: A number of areas; chickensaladchick.com

Discover me on Fb, TikTok, Twitter or Instagram @amydroo or on the OSFoodie Instagram account @orlando.foodie. E-mail: [email protected], For extra foodie enjoyable, be part of the Let’s Eat, Orlando Fb group.