In truly uncharacteristic fashion, easywdw.com posted the first review of The Polite Pig on the internet last week, here. But I thought I would return to the restaurant on opening day to provide some thoughts on a few more items. As always, opening day reviews should be taken with a grain of salt. On one hand, you want to hear about how “good” a new offering is. On the other hand, it seems unfortunate to put preliminary thoughts on blast based on a restaurant’s first day of operation. I’ll be back in a couple of weeks to try things out again and see what changes have been made.
Since the last review took us around the restaurant and offered some thoughts on the space, I won’t retread much of that.
But The Polite Pig is a “fast-casual” concept where you order at the register and then the food is delivered by a server to your table. Because of this, a tip is suggested at the end of the meal, so you may want to add 10% to 20% to the price of what you’re planning on ordering for a true representation of what you’ll be paying. It’s a similar process at Wolfgang Puck Express though the last time I was there the cast member crossed out the tip line before handing me the bill to sign.
There may have been some miscommunication on the Disney Dining Plan front as the restaurant is one QUICK service credit now rather than the table service credit that it cost on opening day.
Disney Twitter, which is not a place you want to find yourself if the last few days are any indication, was aflutter with the thought of pitchers of cocktails being served at Disney Springs.
But the value proposition isn’t spectacular. This pitcher is mostly full of ice and you’ll come out with about three glasses worth of drinks for your $25. So there is a savings of about $5 over ordering three glasses individually.
More disheartening is the fact that while the Old Fashioned is listed under on tap cocktails because that’s what it is, that you can’t order it in the pitcher size. I originally thought the cocktail tasted watered down and would reiterate that fact after trying it on opening day. For ten bucks, it isn’t the worst thing in the world, but you’re going to have to go to bluezoo if you want the real thing.
The $10 glass/$25 pitcher of Tequila and Grapefruit was “just okay” in my opinion, where the main ingredient again seemed to be water. There was a faint taste of tequila with the grapefruit juice immediately washing it away. I see the benefit of “on tap cocktails,” but with so much competition at Disney Springs, you’re going to have to do something to stand out to get my money. And this is not it. On the other hand, with the pitcher, each drink comes out to about $8.50 before tax and tip. That’s $3 less than you’d pay at Jock Lindsey and about half the cost of a cocktail at Frontera or STK.
As previously discussed, value is all over the place on the bourbon.
I ordered a glass of the $11 E.H. Taylor Small Batch from the server and was delivered what should be about two ounces of the $50 bottle.
Other than the $99 Pappy 23-year, which is poured from a $3,000 bottle, I think the E.H. is the best value on the menu.
We started with the $10 “Hop Salt Pretzel with Beer Cheese Fondue and IPA Mustard” under the “Snacks” designation. I have not historically had a lot of success with these oversize pretzels and I would wager that this is as bland as what’s served at the Germany Pavilion at Epcot or over at NBC Sports Grille at Universal CityWalk. But the beer cheese fondue helps a lot – very creamy and very cheesy. The spicy mustard is interesting too – thick but light on the palate with a pronounced vinegar flavor. You might consider this at the bar if you’re enjoying a beer or cocktails, but I think it’s largely superfluous as part of the meal as it’s served at the same time as the entrees. The market sides are a lot more interesting. But it is large and filling, and with the sauces, flavorful.
The $5 “BBQ Cracklins with Spiced Vinegar.” These had a nice crunch to them with the decadent pork flavor contrasting really nicely with the smooth, spicy, vinegar-based barbecue sauce. Another good bar choice.
I went with the $19 “St. Louis Ribs with Layla Sweet Rub served with Slaw, Texas Toast and choice of 1 side.” Six impossibly tender, fall-right-off-the-bone ribs are served with an order. The juicy meat had a really nice smoky quality to it with some molasses, honey, and brown sugar notes. The quality impressed, but it isn’t a terribly large amount of food for the money. And there may still be some issues with consistency as I was talking about our experience with another family later that afternoon and they were served incredibly tough ribs that had to be sent back. The chef actually tried them, shook his head, and sent them out an improved version. They still didn’t come away impressed.
The $16 “Brisket with Coffee Rub served with Slaw, Texas Toast, and choice of 1 side.” The meat here was tender, juicy, and smoky with just a hint of coffee adding a slightly sweet flavor with a rich toasty quality to it. But again, I’ve read some negative thoughts about this one with others being served dry, tough meat.
Not the best picture of the $14 “Brisket Melt Served with a Pickle Spear, Caramelized Onions, Pickled Peppers, and Beer Cheese Fondue.” I really like the buns they use here – nicely toasted with a crispy exterior and soft, slightly sweet interior. Served without a side of any kind, it’s probably on the expensive side, but there’s a lot of quality meat in there with the fresh peppers spicing up the flavor profile, while the smooth, cheesy fondue helps temper the situation. But cost does come into play as you can head across the street to Homecomin’ and order their BBQ Bun with chopped pork that comes with a side for just two dollars more. And the portion size is much larger.
As a reminder, this is what the $12 pulled pork sandwich looks like.
Another lousy picture, this time of the $12 “Fried Chicken Sandwich Served with Pickle Spear, Hot Honey, Pickles, and Pimento Cheese.” The chicken patty was thick with a nice thin, crunchy coating surrounding the juicy chicken. I really liked the hot honey sauce that it was smothered in, giving it a unique, sweet-yet-spicy quality to it. The slaw offers a nice vinegar contrast and provides some more crunch, in addition to the pickles and creamy, slightly spicy cheese. Overall, it was very good, but it still seems like a stretch without a side of some variety.
The $14 “Pork Shoulder with Polite Rub served with Slaw, Texas Toast and choice of 1 side” was tender and fatty with a pork-belly quality to it – a very deep, rich, salty flavor that contrasted nicely with the vinegar in the rub and herbs liberally sprinkled on top. It was very fatty though and Polite Pig only offers plastic cutlery, which can make this and the chicken difficult to cut.
That $15 half chicken from my first visit is still my favorite entree. A huge portion at a price similar to Cosmic Ray’s.
Entrees are served with a small jar of slaw or you can substitute another side for three dollars more. I am not typically a “slaw person” – it tends to be an exercise in mayonnaise consumption, but The Polite Pig’s version is completely devoid of it and instead focuses on really crunchy vegetables with a tangy vinegar brine. But the other sides are so good, and so much more hearty, that you may want to make the substitution for another side.
Speaking of sides, they are available individually for $6 or you can save/spend some money by ordering three for $15. It’s worth adding one to a sandwich for $4 as well. My favorite is still the BBQ Cauliflower with Paprika Sour Cream. The florets are wonderfully crunchy with a distinct spiciness from the paprika that’s instantly cooled by the cream. Really fantastic.
Something wasn’t working with the “Smoked Corn with Lime Butter and Breadcrumbs.” which was somehow flavorless despite what should have been some citrus and smoke notes. I’ll have to return to these, but it was easily the biggest miss of the day.
Fortunately, we’re back on the right track with the “Charred Broccoli with Herb Buttermilk and Granola,” though I think we see the granola with the cauliflower rather than here. But the broccoli has a fantastic crunchy bite to it with the creamy buttermilk making the side all the more decadent. I would have liked broccoli a lot more growing up if it was always gussied up with a thousand more calories.
The “Potato Salad – Mustard-smoked with Kale” is another interesting presentation, here with mostly whole, largely skinless potatoes. I appreciated that the dish was served nice and cold with really thick, flavorful potatoes tossed in a creamy dressing with a pronounced vinegar flavor that was cooled down a bit with some bitter earthiness from the kale. Very good.
Not-specifically-pictured are the Brussels Sprouts, which were another standout. They had a really nice crunch to them with an interesting sweet whiskey-caramel glaze that contrasted really nicely with what are typically vinegar-dominant barbecue flavors in the other dishes.
Here’s a $9 kids’ meal, this time as the Mac and Cheese served with Carrot Sticks and Apple Juice.
It’s exactly the same as the side of Mac and Cheese with Aged Cheddar and Breadcrumbs, only without the breadcrumbs. The mac and cheese is otherwise “just okay” in my opinion – it’s really cheesy, but I thought the pasta was slightly overcooked and nothing about it really stood out. But it’s certainly a “safe” choice.
As previously mentioned, beer is a solid choice at The Polite Pig with four excellent, unique beers from Cask & Larder, served here in 20-ounce glasses for $9. It’s a good price for a quality product, relatively speaking.
Overall, I’m a little iffier than I was expecting on The Polite Pig. For similar money, Homecomin’ does a lot of things very well, including offering a typical table service experience with friendly servers and large portions. Many of the Pig’s dishes are more nuanced with what may be higher quality ingredients, but a lot of people are looking for straightforward flavors served in large quantities. This is still America, after all. The Pig’s atmosphere is a little more hectic and less relaxing. But if you’re looking for something that may be surprisingly different than what you were expecting, then I think Polite Pig does some interesting things very well.
I’ll return in a couple of weeks to see where we’re at and hopefully some more opinions will be available in the coming days. It’s certainly nice to have more options in Disney Springs. Even if The Polite Pig doesn’t turn out to be the “best” option, it’s still leaps and bounds ahead of virtually every theme park quick service.