My husband and I were in Sanford the other day and decided we wanted to find a place to eat in the downtown area. I had heard some good things about The Steele Pig, so we decided to check it out. It was easy to find parking on Steele Street and when we got there it was about 15 minutes before they opened for dinner, so we strolled around the block and did a little window shopping, then came back to see three or four carloads of people waiting for the place to open. I figured this was another good sign this place would be good.
Precisely at 5, the doors opened and we were warmly greeted and seated in a nice, large booth. The lighting was a bit low, but I liked the atmosphere of the place. The walls are a mixture of drywall and exposed brick, and lots of pig artwork is scattered about the dining room. Large fans line the center of the dining room and at the back of the space is a small bar area. The blues and R&B music also helps set the mood.
We are greeted by our waiter, Keith, who tells us about the specials and gets our drink orders. Keith is quite friendly and helpful, answering many questions we have about the menu. The menu features many southern and soul food items. I ordered an Old Fashioned and was pleased they made the drink correctly. Many places I go won’t even make an Old Fashioned. We decide to start our meal with the shrimp and grits, which Keith recommended. The grits are out of this world good, in fact, I’m going to stick my neck out and say I think they are better than the shrimp and grits from Crook’s Corner. The grits are smooth and creamy and are covered in a generous portion of tasso ham gravy mixed with roasted tomatoes and topped with Parmesan cheese and fresh green onions. The shrimps are nice and plump and nicely spiced. The presentation was also great as you can see from the photo. Impressive for a restaurant in Sanford!
On to our main dishes. I chose the smoked, pulled beef short rib pasta bowl. The pasta features a wonderful creamy roasted tomato sauce with mushrooms, green onions, and white truffle oil. Wow, the flavor from the smoked beef ribs is rich and goes really well with the tomato sauce. And, how can you go wrong with white truffle oil? The portion is generous and I end up taking some home for another meal.
My husband had the 5 hour smoked beef short ribs with two sides: the succotash and the garlic french fries. The ribs again are rich and smoky. The barbecue sauce has a deep hearty flavor to it. If I didn’t have such a great dish myself, I may have been tempted to steal his dish! The succotash, which is corn kernels with butter beans (also known as baby lima beans), was very fresh and the butter beans were really tender and sweet. The fries were the only minor disappointment as they were a bit on the greasy side.
There were many other dishes that sounded enticing such as the pecan-crusted trout, the fried green tomato BLT, the crawfish cakes and many more.
Keith tempted us with several dessert selections all of which sounded great. I need to come back and at least try the key lime pie with coconut. I love key lime pie! But, the chocolate pecan pie with Kentucky whiskey sauce, topped with the local Yarborough vanilla ice cream won out. Boy, was it ever great! The pie was warmed, so the ice cream got a little soft and the chocolate was warm and a little gooey. The pecans were sweet and crunchy. My husband said he was tempted to lick the plate clean! I felt the same way. I know one thing, this is not our last trip to the Steele Pig!
We met the chef/owner, Chad Blackwelder, a very friendly young man who said he grew up in Sanford. He left town and traveled around a bit, cooking in places such as Charleston, South Carolina with Chef Louis Osteen. He later worked as the Sous Chef at Pinehurst Country Club, then worked as the Sous Chef for Karen and Ben Barker of the Magnolia Grill in Durham. He also worked at several other Triangle area restaurants before opening his own place back in his home town. You could tell he knows what he’s doing! I now put the Steele Pig on the list of to go places for Southern food! Chad’s food is certainly on par or even better than some of the dishes I’ve had at The Pit, Crook’s Corner, or Rick’s Cafe and the prices are very reasonable.
The Steele Pig is open from 5-9pm Tuesday – Saturday. It is located at 133 South Steele Street in downtown Sanford, NC.