The Ravenous Pig-Winter Park
I tried posting my review a couple of days ago, but (smack my hands) I ventured outside of the Chowhound TOS, so I'll try it again.
I had been reading a lot of buzz re: The Ravenous Pig (which bills itself as a "An American Gastropub") both online and in food and wine rags, and was dying to try it. Driving 100 miles each way has never deterred Underdog and me from sniffing out a new gastronomical experience, so we carped the diem and made the haul over to the east side of Orlando to check it out.
My Saturday lunch reservations had been easily obtained (perhaps a bit TOO easily) only a few days prior via OpenTable.com. When we arrived, we couldn't help but notice a huge wood smoker sitting in front of the restaurant, along with obviously available tables (Oh, and I should not forget to mention the heavenly scent emitting from that smoker. <3). C'mon...I've read tales of brawls breaking out over available tables at this place. Something didn't seem right, and we soon found out what it was.
Once inside, we were informed that the regular menu was not available on the first Saturday of each month because that was their "Pig Roast Day", where a $20 BBQ plate was the only offering. Oh, nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo...I so did NOT drive for almost two hours for barbecue (regardless of how tasty it might be). I was incredibly bummed, but we decided to stay and eat there anyway 1.) because we were starving and 2.) the restaurant was visually quite lovely and inviting.
UD started with a very nice microbrew...Terrapin Side Project Hopzilla. Lovely in color, alcohol content and faint orange flavor, he deemed it a fine and dogworthy libation. He later tried the Northcoast Scrimshaw Pilsner, which also garnered high marks.
The Ravenous Pig has a decent little wine list, and all but a few bottles are available by the glass at 1/4 of the bottle price. Even the least expensive Chardonnay (The Crusher "Wilson Vineyard", Clarksburg '07) was very nice at $9.00 glass.
A very limited selection of regular menu items were offered in addition to the barbecue plate, so we ordered the Gatherer Salad, which was comprised of an astonishing variety of mixed baby lettuces, chopped avacodo, beets (and no, beets are not usually at the top of either of our respective wish-lists as far as salad ingredients go, but these were thinly sliced and really tasty), toasted pistachios, goat cheese and herb viniagrette. At $7.00, there was plenty for two to share. Was it one of the best salads I've ever had? No. But it was pretty, unique, refeshing and tasty...and the greens alone were just beautiful.
When the barbecue plates arrived, I just about fainted. Each contained a hearty portion of tender, flavorful pulled pork and ribs atop a slice of homemade potato bread. The sauce was pretty amazing...a unique blend of thick, sweet and slighly acidic, with a really spicy afterglow. Side dishes were collard greens (which were freaking amazing...so fresh, with pepper-heated kick...and I'm originally from Middle Tennessee, so I KNOW collard greens); really tasty, nutty black-eyed peas; and a wedge of jalapeno cornbread. This was a different take on cornbread...it was moist and dense, and the cornmeal was ground to a very fine consistency (it was almost, but not quite, like a corn pudding). The final touch was a luscious, two-bite Red Velvet Cake micro-cupcake, resplendent in its cocoa bottom-note and traditional crown of cream cheese frosting. The hubster was so enamored of the micro-cupcake that he threw himself on the mercy of our stellar server, Kristina, who brought him another one with no upcharge.
One of the other (very few) side dishes available on Pig Roast Saturday was French Fries, so we decided "what the heck" and threw in an order. These crunchy, matchstick-cut, skin-on delights were presented to us in a 16 ounce glass and quickly became my own personal ruffies. The taste was inexplicably wonderful...I could not for the life of me figure out if it was something that had been sprinkled on them, or something they had been fried in. Before I could even form the question, Kristina (nodding knowingly) explained that they were seasoned with Truffle Salt. Yes, I have a new drug.
When the bill came (which was about $85 for two beers, three glasses of the "low-end" Chardonnay, the salad, two barbecue plates and an order of the ethereal Truffle Salt Fries), I had to admit that I was glad that I hadn't had any other alternative...I would've never ordered barbecue here, and UD and I both agreed that it was the best we'd ever had. It may sound strange, but it was actually pretty unforgettable. The Ravenous Pig totally turned my preliminary frown upside-down! Our lovely Kristina encouraged us to come back for dinner soon, with the promise that they'd "knock our socks off"...and I believe her.
I can't wait to go back and try the regular menu...Lobster Tacos, Gruyere Biscuits, Charcuterie Platters.....:<3
This place would be fine epicurean field trip for other Tampa Bay foodies! :)
I get REAL excited by the words "PIG ROAST DAY" and that little bit of food in the middle of that expansive white plate, for $20.00, just don't go together...
I'm apprehensive to spotlight my possible lack of sophistication, but I'm petrified that I'd eat that in 3 minutes to find myself hungry and a little frustrated, forced into spending another $20.00....
Because I WOULD be driving 2 hours for the barbecue...
I might hit somebody in the head with that walnut size cupcake!
Maybe you can put your photo of the BBQ plate back up to see if I'm crazy...
I'd love to be mistaken...
It 'looked' like a few tablespoons of pork with a couple small babybacks on top, lifted higher by bread... A couple tablespoons of blackeyed peas... Too much plate showin'...
I have an aversion to white porcelain when it comes to food placed before me...
Most places you can get a full rack of ribs for $20.00...
It was a great review, and I'm a fan----- it's jus' that I'm a fat guy from Jersey, and you're,
well, Sweet Polly... ;-)
We'll see how Eli's in Dunedin is this Friday for lunch....
Heck, Kojak's puts this in front of you for $12.95...
Those full-size ribs are often an inch thick, fresh and juicy...
re: Mild Bill
LOL at Bill! It was actually a lot more food than it appeared to be...neither my husand or I ate again for the rest of the day, and we don't like "small food" either. ;) And when I want good barbecue, I usually just shove a pork shoulder at the hub-unit and send him into the back yard to "make fire".
You are right that the portions for the pig roasts, lamb roasts, clam bakes and such at Ravenous Pig are very moderate. I think you would even say small. The food is very good, nonetheless. If we do ever manage to make an Orlando trip, I would suggest not doing it on a roast day. Not because the roasts aren't good, but because I think we would have more fun ordering off the menu. The one exception, I think, is Oktoberfest. The Oktoberfest meal last year was exceptional. Everything was homemade and tasted like it- the sauerkraut, the mustard, the sausages.
I love pork! I could eat it alllll day!
(Monty Python SPAM reference)
I was waiting for my coffee to kick in before commenting again, thanking Polly for responding to my post with a smile...
I went to sleep last night and woke up this morning kinda regretful and embarrassed for comparing Kojak's to a nice place like The Ravenous Pig...
Kojak's building has probably been paid-for since the Eisenhower administration...
It's just that since I like to cook-- and since I'm always getting yelled at by my wife for making too much, that frame of reference always seems to creep into my consideration of restaurant experiences...
So I look for new interesting flavors and combinations of things...
And actually, when I finally do make it out to Orlando, I'm gonna want to do a crawl, hitting a few of these recommended hotspots, not necessarily filling up at any one place...
Maybe sometime in Oktober babaay!
I was in town for business, did a little investigating on Chowhound and decided on dinner at The Ravenous Pig. Started with the shrimp and grits which was very good, as an entree I had the halibut with lentils. This is where things got a little off track, the halibut was way too salty, I mentioned this to the waitress and she stated that they get this complaint quite a bit. I said why don't the chefs correct it then, her reply was that she will tell them again. She did offer to replace the halibut free of charge, I declined. Shared a dessert of creme brulee which was done nicely.
Two out of three's not bad, but not what I expected from all the great reviews.
The Ravenous Pig: An American Gastropub
1234 N. Orange Avenue, Winter Park, FL 32789
I was there two weeks ago and had one of the best dishes I've ever had, at the Pig or anywhere else: a huge portion of buttery smoked sturgeon, surrounded by brown butter-crisped spaetzle, heirloom carrots, onions, and topped with a pulled oxtail "marmalade," as they described it on the menu. It was like having two delicious dishes in one!
My wife and buddy each had the amazing pub burger, and my friend's girlfriend had the halibut and really enjoyed it. We had pig tails and an array of ice creams and sorbets for dessert (I had tangerine, coconut-lime, and blackberry sorbet).
Also, my friend ordered this amazing-sounding beer: Left Hand Brewery's Milk Stout. It looked just like a Guinness, but it was sweetened with milk sugar (lactose?) and was quite sweet and rich, without any of the bitterness usually associated with stouts. I only had a sip, but it was outstanding.
I was going to Skycraft a month ago and worked in a lunch stop here. I arrived on the late side and had a short wait for a table.
I ordered the charcuterie plate and a side salad. The meats were very nice, especially the spiced orange variety. A flavorful grainy mustard accompanied the plate. The mustard was terrific, but was a bit too powerful for the meats. Bread, a nice array of cheese and a small pile of dressed greens came too. I've been on a pickle quest lately and theirs didn't disappoint. My server said the selection of vegetables pickled changed fairly often. Had a very nice glass of red wine for $9.
Food and service was great. As a solo diner sometimes service suffers, but not here. Once it slowed down my server and I chatted. She indicated that the charcuterie platter could be ordered in a larger size with a wider selection - just ask.
The only aspects that weren't terrific were the side salad and the choice of tableware. The dressing just didn't match the same level of flavor exhibited by the rest of the meal. The salad was in a porcelain square bowl with steeply sloping sides. Steep sides, slick greens, chronically empty fork. Greens had not been torn and became an exercise in frustration trying to eat it. The flatware was huge and heavy and contributed to the salad challenge. Looked good though! The reason I mention these aspects are because everything else in the place indicates a deep appreciation for detail, subtle and not. The bowl and flatware worked aesthetically but not functionally!
These quibbles aside, I look forward to my next chance to eat here. Thanks to all who have posted it since it opened - I would not have discovered it on my own!
Sweet Polly - I couldn't agree with you more. My SO and I have been to The Ravenous Pig several times and will continue to make the trek from Tampa to enjoy their inventive and fabulously prepared food. From a snack and cocktail in the bar (by the way, their cocktails are great), to an all-out 3 hour dinner experience, we have never been disappointed. The service has always been spot-on, as well - their servers are very knowledgable regading items on the menu as well as their wine list. Haven't yet been to one of their roasts, but it's definitely on our list of to-do's. For those who haven't yet been, I say run, don't walk, to The Pig. :-)