Oldie But Very Goodie: East Village Grille
I’ll admit it: I don’t want you to read this review. I don’t want you to know the glory and wonder of this undiscovered treasure; I want to hoard it all like a landlocked pirate, and curse all ye who find the spot marked with an x. There are not many restaurants in Asheville where I can hide without bumping into an awkward acquaintance, to enjoy the Winter Olympics in peace and solitude. But I’ll sacrifice it all so the world will learn of this uncharted culinary gem in Oteen, of all places.
If you need a break from the posh, the hip, and the cosmopolitan tourist trap, the East Village Grille, on 1177 Tunnel Rd, is your relief.
The dimly lit dining room plus bar is decorated slightly better than your college dorm room, sports magazines are randomly strewn about the tables, and the menu appears too general and expansive to be truly great. But that is exactly what it is.
East Village Grille’s bar offers a decent selection of beers on tap, including Highland’s rich Black Mocha Stout and Blue Moon, a personal favorite.
On my first visit I ordered ten wings, along with their homemade tangy ranch dip. What I really love about this place is that it’s not trying to be a wing-crazed smorgasbord, its orgy of wings tasting like they were given a sponge bath in a rainbow of fruit flavors. I don’t need thirty flavors of wings. Just a few really great sauce options are all I require. East Village Grille’s Tiger wings are beastly creatures, big enough to satisfy a substantial appetite for dinner. Moreover, the Tiger sauce is sure to inspire any wing lover to ravage their meal before dashing off to write sonnets, love songs and slam poetry in fervent ode.
Slowly creeping, well-balanced heat and a sweet citrus finish make these wings worthy of the Olympic Gold. (Do the wing-frying semifinals follow the curling competition?) Thick sauce can lead to soggy skin on a chicken wing, but in this case the snappy crisp holds up perfectly, giving way to a substantial amount of juicy meat within.
Another contender for the pub food Gold is EVG’s onion rings. Onions rings seem like a no-brainer, just something to throw on the plate next to a burger. But often I’m working my way through bland breading to reach the flaccid, pale onion hidden deep within its starchy casing. These onion rings crackle delightfully on the tongue, like savory pop rocks. The thick juicy onion is front and center, complimented by a light, pleasantly greasy shell. They pair beautifully with the spicy ranch. Mom wondered why I kept writing home about these onion rings.
Like a good Greek diner, EVG offers a wide variety of sandwich options. By the way they also feature steak dishes, ribs, Mediterranean entrees, pork chops, and on Wednesdays, pizza. If a person can’t find something they want to eat here, they must be, well, vegan.
For someone who likes the wings but would rather eat them on a bun, I highly recommend the Tiger Chicken Sandwich. Their Cheeseburger Club is an interesting, old fashioned three decker behemoth. EVG’s “world famous” Grouper Reuben was the resounding answer to the riddle, “what do you get when you cross a Filet-o-Fish with a Big Mac?” I could feel my arteries straining in protest, yet the grouper tasted fresh and mild, golden breading pleasantly shaking hands with a decadent mess of Russian dressing and coleslaw. The prices are reasonable, and with Filo, a Greek bakery right next door for dessert, the East Village Grille is definitely worth the drive. But let’s keep this between us. Just don’t tell the tourists.