My wife left town again, and I scurried back to the Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville to finish working my way down their seven-sandwich menu.
My gustatory adventures had apparently become legend there in a short period of time. On my first visit back, when one of the bartenders spotted me walk into the Edison Craft Ales + Kitchen, she said, “How many more do you have left to try?” On subsequent visits, I heard basically the same question from two or three other servers.
The answer, Dear Reader, was three. Three sandwiches left. Let’s see how they “stack” up, shall we?
The Knuckle Sandwich, at Edison, Omni Grove Park Inn, $26. This is their take on the classic lobster roll. They dress the Maine lobster in a tarragon emulsion (think vinaigrette), place it aboard thick-cut toast with bibb lettuce and shaved fennel. I’ve enjoyed lobster rolls in the past, so I was prepared for sticker shock. Lobster rolls are always expensive, and you always end up feeling like you paid more than it was worth. This sandwich was very large, but—notice!—it’s not so much a lobster roll as it is a lobster stack. The open-faced nature of the sandwich made it impossible to fold and eat, but you end up with more meat than you do with those New England hot dog buns that they usually serve lobster rolls in. There was no mayo in sight, so you don’t get the creaminess typically associated with lobster rolls. But it was still freaking tasty.
Grilled Cheese, at Edison, Omni Grove Park Inn, $15. Probably my favorite of the three, the grilled cheese was cut into three hefty slices and pressed with three different cheeses, and each wedge of the sandwich came stuffed with a slice of local bacon. It also came with a cup of tomato soup and a side salad (or fries). What can I say? The cheese was very cheesy, almost to the point that it was oozing out of the sandwich. I’d tried this sandwich years ago, and last time the tomato soup was weirdly thick. Not anymore. I’m told the chefs changed it up. Now it’s perfect for dipping. I did notice that was a little hard to bite the sandwich without pulling each bacon slice completely out. Maybe if they didn’t cook the bacon so crispy?
Veggie “Burger,” at Edison, Omni Grove Park Inn, $15. This was the surprise out of all the sandwiches I tried. I tried it last because I don’t usually like veggie burgers. Too often they end up tasting like a big muddy ball of black beans. This sandwich corrects for that by packing in as many different distinct flavors as possible. You get smoked almond spread on the hamburger bun, the peppery crunch of arugula, the spiciness of an orange-red peppadew sauce, and the pungency of a classic chermoula herb sauce. The patty itself is bright red—thanks to the beets that infuse the cumin-tinged beans.
I’ll mention just one more interesting thing. In the course of these three visits, many of the servers asked which of these sandwiches was my favorite. I held off responding until they told me their fave. Every single person praised the club sandwich, which I discussed last time. In fact, without knowing what my favorite was, one manager told me, “If you ever hate what we’ve brought you, just send it back and order the club sandwich. You can't go wrong."
So that’s it. Three disturbingly large and tasty sandwiches in the course of five days. Denise is out of town for a few more days. I’ve got a line on some panini at another place in town. I’ll be there, if I can get out of my chair.
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