Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Charleston Edition: Vandalia Grille

I've been dying to try Vandalia Grille since my last trip to Charleston (last summer). We didn't have time. But, huzzah! On my most recent trip to Charleston, it was our first stop. This cold, rainy Friday night could only be solved with tasty burgers and sweet potato fries.

I parallel parked (!) in a side street, as Vandalia Grille is located right downtown, and a lot of the street parking was already taken up. The yellow front was inviting. We stepped inside to see a full restaurant. There's another entrance on the opposite side - kind of cool. We stood at the front awkwardly until a waitress popped by and said we could sit anywhere we like. We walked back until we found a table that wasn't infringing on others' privacy. It just so happened to be in front of the cook's area. A waitress quickly came over and took our drink orders. She was excellent the whole evening, asking us if it was our first time and offering her recommendations.

I had perused the menu briefly online already, so I knew I wanted a burger. But as I looked down the menu, I noticed they had three slider burgers. That looked perfect - I had the opportunity to sample three of their signature burgers - the Colorado, Aloha, and Gobbler. I also got their sweet potato fries, and we split the brushetta for an appetizer.

Their menu had "tapas" - small plates that are meant to be shared. We thought about buying a couple appetizers and just splitting them, but the burgers looked too tempting. The brushetta came out fairly quickly. Eight focaccia toast points were seated on a plate, drizzled with a sweet balsamic reduction, while a mound of sweet tomato and basil decorated the center. While the dish was probably too sweet for some folks, I thought it was key.

The Colorado burger consisted of a bison burger, smoked bacon, cheddar and red onion marmalade. This was the first one I tried, and it was a solid burger. In the words of my dear friend Brittany, it wasn't anything spectacular, but it was a solid burger overall. I think if the red onion marmalade was more prominent (I didn't really even taste it), it would've added another element here.

The Gobbler burger was next, and it was a turkey burger with spinach, gouda, caramelized onions with a pesto sauce. While this all sounds fantastic on paper, maybe I didn't get the full effect since it was only a slider. I didn't get those pops of flavors. I got a turkey burger with some cheese. And if you have a good gouda, it's out of this world. This burger was just okay with me.

Finally, the aloha was ground beef, with grilled pineapple, red onions, green onions, green leaf lettuce, and a teriyaki glaze. This one packed the most flavor for me. Right away, the pineapple was sweet, and the teriyaki was a little tangy, and the lettuce mellowed it out. This was probably my favorite of the three.

Oh, and how could I forget the sweet potato fries? They weren't bad - slightly soggy. I prefer mine to be more crisp ala Tailpipes, but the cool thing about these is that they came with two sauces: a sort of cherry mustard and a teriyaki mayonnaise. Bother were interesting. I used the mustard for the fries and the mayo for my burgers. All in all, not bad.

We also ordered their dessert - which was something like a fried cheesecake with ice cream ... everything in that phrase sounds amazing. And it was.

As a side note: Brittany ordered the Mediterranean salad, and she loved it infinitely better than her burger.

Grade: B
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