My friend Brian always has the best restaurant recommendations. They’re not always something I’d pick myself, are usually right under my nose (but I’ve never noticed them) and are usually pretty good. Chef’s Cafe was his most recent pick, found on Fields Ertel Road– not the super-busy, scary part but the other side of Mason-Montgomery Road that is more quiet, sedate and residential. And, apparently, they have World-Famous Chicken Salad.
Chef’s Cafe is completely unassuming in a small strip mall on the edge of Sharonville and Mason. I am sure I’ve driven by it a hundred times and never noticed it. It’s been there for 18 years– since before Mason was the booming suburb it is now– and its success can be attributed to more than 83 tons of that famous chicken salad. They have a contract to sell it at Bigg’s/Remke and Jungle Jim’s as well (in case you can’t get there for lunch).
Of course, if it was that lauded, I had to try it. You can get their sandwiches on a choice of bread– white, wheat, rye, croissant or pretzel bread (though they were out of croissants on the day I was there). I chose pretzel bread, and the sandwich was topped with lettuce and tomato. You get a side as well, and I chose a creamy, but still-tangy coleslaw. The chicken salad is good– the texture is interesting, as it’s almost pureed: it’s very smooth, and not chunky like many chicken salads. It’s got a good kick of onion, and not too much mayonnaise. It’s a pretty solid chicken salad (though I think I prefer mine a bit less smooth).
Their egg salad, which Brian picked (on white bread) was actually better than the chicken salad– a mayonnaise and mustard-based salad, with big chunks of egg, pickle and carrot. He picked a chunky applesauce to go with it. I admit– I’m a sucker for applesauce (I think it has something to do with my German grandma. Then again, I’m pretty sure a good part of my preferences have to do with her influence!) and theirs was fresh and good, with small chunks of apple for texture.
They also have pastrami, corned beef and other deli meats as options, and can cater with some notice. A sandwich and a can of Dr. Brown’s (the sign of a good deli, in my opinion) runs about $8, which is reasonable for a good quality lunch. Service is quick and friendly, but they get busy right around noon– so get there a bit earlier.