Restaurant Reviews

Soup's On

It's like a corral or a Ponderosa steakhouse. At Village Grill, you walk through the door and are immediately channeled down a walkway, like cattle, toward the ordering counter. Behind the counter is a large poster of the menu. There's also a little decorative collage of wagon wheels and hay and other Western-type knick knacks that horses wear.

The menu is a vast array of caloric calamity with thick burgers, chicken fried steak, and the confoundingly named chicken-fried chicken, onion rings, cheese fries, ribeyes, and so forth. Village Grill also offers salads and soups. The former is quite good. The red beans-and-rice soup was filled with firm, separate rice grains and beans. The dense broth is laced with peppers, onion, and garlic, creating a flavor robustness with the husky textures. Roasted cream of tomato soup was also well made: smooth and creamy, with chunks of tomato and bits of diced onion dimpling the pink surface.

Once the order is placed at the counter and the food is purchased, diners scope the large semi-rustic dining room and bar for a place to park. Little signs are placed on the table so that runners can find you when your order is ready.

It's not only the soups that fill the mouth with wonder here. The hamburgers are profoundly good too. The mushroom Swiss burger was juicy, tender, and rich with an ample application of mushrooms and a firm bun that withstood the meat leakage.

Some things didn't stand up well at all. The spicy buffalo chicken sandwich, a huge, sprawling battered patty of chicken flushed red with sauce and smeared with blue cheese dressing, was dry and not particularly spicy. But the thin, well-seasoned housemade chips were very good. So when ordering the spicy buffalo chicken sandwich, it might be best to have them hold the sandwich.

The Southern-fried prime ribeye with chorizo cream gravy was covered with a light batter coating. But it was sheltering a piece of thin, mealy gray beef. If this was prime beef, someone must have bitch-slapped the prime right out of it.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment was the pico mahi, a piece of mahi mahi covered in chipotle butter and pico de gallo. The flesh was fishy, greasy, and chewy, almost rubbery--not the kind of thing you'd want to take more than one bite of if you're not a cat. Yet it came with a superb baked potato: smooth, soft, moist, and well-anointed with sour cream.

Hand-breaded sweet Vidalia onion rings offered more slippage. Though the portion was ample, spread on a rectangular plate like a rat's nest of barbed wire, the coating was waxy and chalky and lacked assertive seasoning to break it out of its textural blandness. A ramekin of chipotle ranch dressing in the center made for a fine dipping medium, but it wasn't enough to unravel this tangle of blandness.

So maybe the best course of action is to stick to soup and burgers. If you're really feeling adventurous, see what kinds of things you can get the kitchen to chicken-fry.