"Your reputation precedes you." As we made our way to The Ravenous Pig in Winter Park I couldn't help but think of that saying. Ever since this place opened up it has been noted as one of Central Florida's must try eateries. Word of mouth spread like wild fire, all positively glowing reviews. In fact, while dining at the very well received Kress Chophouse, our server told us that "The Pig" was her favorite place to eat in town. It was high time we made it over for a first-hand taste. We swung through on a Saturday night, right around 5 when we pulled up to the valet. It's complimentary (especially if you're a miser like me and don't tip...EVER) and located in the brick-lined alley right next to the entrance. You can't miss it, just look for the murals of beef and pork cuts. Now, if you plan on heading out on Saturday or Sunday you'll wanna make sure to call ahead well in advance. I was informed that the dining area gets booked solid on the weekends very regularly. However, we were going to have a few drinks and watch some March Madness over on the pub side of the restaurant, so we were able to slide in at the bar right away. As we plopped down the friendly bartender gave us our menus and two bowls filled with snacks. "It's your lucky day, " he told us. "What's usually just popcorn is actually caramel corn mixed with sweet-glazed pecans tonight." Well, aren't we off to a smashing start? I ordered a pint and took a look at the menu and our surroundings. A very modern selection complimented the very modern interior. There were assorted works of art strapped flat against the ceilings on the pub side, the vibe on the dining side was very open and airy...airy? Is that a word? I think you catch my rift. The whole place has a very relaxed feel to it, despite the busy wait staff rushing food from kitchen to table. The lighting in the pub area was a little dark, but not so bad that you can't see the drink you're trying to dump roofies in. It felt cozy what with all the bottles of wine resting behind the draft taps and all. The dining area was very bright with simple light fixtures dangling and windows allowing the beaming rays of the late afternoon sun to brighten up the room. We decided to start with an appetizer--Pub Fare as it is noted on their menu. After a little debate, we tried the House-made Soft Pretzels (winning just by a nose over the trio of Lobster Tacos). What a treat...the soft, doughy pretzels were perfect parts crispy/buttery crust and chewy/warm insides. What really made this appetizer work though, was the dipping sauces it came with. A very intense house mustard alongside their taleggio-porter fondue. Heaven. Straight up Heaven. The Cheese was soft and mild, while the mustard was bold and basically cleared your sinuses like a mouthful of horseradish...just the way I like it. When it came time to order our entrees, I went with the Roasted Duck Breast. It came on a bed of heirloom carrots, one smoked potato peirogi (extra large) and some cipollini onions, all dressed with their red wine jus. The Steak Frittes with truffle fries was also ordered, as well as the Maine Lobster tail. For as bustling as the dining and pub area were, it was only a short wait before our food arrived. The duck was so succulent I was cutting it with my fork. I was able to snag a bite of the steak fritte and lobster too before they were all gobbled up--top notch. The duck was crispy but just fell off the bone as you cut into it. The meat was cooked perfectly and the portion was just-right. The smoked pierogi was huge, almost the same size as an empanda! Inside we find the rich texture of potatoes and cheese. It tasted like the finest Gouda was swimming in mash. The steak fritte was delicious, the flavor of the char on the outside mixed with the tender middle, perfection...but lets not skip to the lobster yet. Someone has to tell you about these truffle fries. Cut shoestring style and served in a pint glass; between the serving size and taste--it was as if 5 Guys was transformed into 5 star dining. The thinly cut potatoes were overflowing from the glass, how lucky for us...how lucky for us all. The salty, crispy morsels were some of the best tasting fries I've had in a while. The lobster was delicate and flavorful as well, served with glazed radishes and lobster foam (lobster foam?). I'm not going to front and act like I can compare this lobster to all the others I have enjoyed in my life--in fact I could probably count on one hand how many times I've enjoyed this dish. That said, this was still a great selection and I would highly recommend it. If you should happen to go to the RP, order the lobster and hate it...you can call me a liar. At the end of the night after the bill was delivered: many drinks, appetizer and 5 entrees--we got outta there right around $200.00. Steep you might say but thinking about it, I spent $15.00 on dinner for 2 at Krystals not long ago. By my guesstimate, that would be just about congruent to what we spent over at "The Pig."
So, did this place live up to the hype? Mos Def. And I'm glad! My buddy Tyler works there. I reckon I would've had to give him a hard time for being employed by a poseur had it not. Throw in the fact that they regularly have whole pig feasts and we also saw an advertisement on their chalk board for a lamb roast coming up in April. Thanks for the excuse to go back sooner than later!
The Ravenous Pig. Great name, great food.
1234 N. Orange Ave.(between Orlando and Denning)
Winter Park, FL 32789
Phone: (407) 628-2333