Norms White Horse uses an original recipe dating back 60+ years..there is also the BUILD of the sandwich to consider. I had a Second Best Chicken Barb at the Country Kitchen but they had the construction wrong.
It is - from the bottom up:
lettuce leaf (not shredded!)
toasting on the exterior is optional.
if you put MAYO under the lettuce the sandwich slides apart when you pick it up.
this is a careless mistake.
I have also had BAD chicken barbs in the valley.
if it is just boiled chicken piled on a bun with mayo, it is NOT a chicken barb.
A chicken barb is a sandwich made from chicken which has been cooked in a pressure cooker..then simmered in it's broth with seasonings. To make a chicken barb, you scoop out a spoonful of chicken with a slotted spoon and serve it on a toasted roll with a spoonful of mayo ( has to be the real thing..none of that low fat stuff) with lettuce. Sounds so simple and tastes so yummy. It is like the ultimate comfort food.
To me..the secret of a good chicken barb is making sure the chicken is moist.
The latest issue of Merrimack Valley has a big writeup on the history of the Chicken Barb. The article lists several local places which still serve it. Among them are:
Three Dogz Diner
Lawrence Dog Haus & Grille ( the former Lawtons)
Norm's White Horse
The Lantern Brunch
Daily Dose Cafe ( in Pentucket Medical building ).
Of the above choices, two places definitely get it right. Three Dogz Diner and Norm's White Horse. In my opinion, these are the two best chicken barbs in the valley although I've never tried the one in Daily Dose Cafe.
Lots of places have tried to do the chicken barb and failed. Three Dogz and Norm's are the only ones that bring me right back to my childhood.
Funny, I remember when I was a kid there were dozens of places to get a good Chicken Barb. One of them was the old Morin's restaurant on Essex St. Boy..that place had great food and when they closed down, I was truly sad.
Surprisingly, the old Lawtons had a really good chicken Barb. I always skipped the hot dogs in favor of it.
Thankfully..Three Dogz diner is a stone's throw from the old Lawtons.
I always liked the Lawton's Chicken Barb, but lately I've been liking Three Dogz Diner version. Knight's of Columbus on Sutton Street in N. Andover is the only other place I can think of to get one. It's been a while since I've had the KoC sandwich but I thought theirs was good.
I'd be interested if there is any other place in the area to try.