I am hesitant to visit a new restaurant too soon after they've opened, but my recent visit to The Port Steak & Seafood in Sanford proved my fears groundless--I had an excellent meal there. They have only been open a week in a beautiful space right on Lake Monroe, but also the site of (at least) two previous restaurants that did not survive. I am hopeful that this one will, as Sanford needs (and deserves) a good steak and seafood place.
It was a gorgeous October night with mild temperatures, and we walked to The Port from downtown Sanford. We were promptly greeted by a very attentive young man who, as I noticed during the course of the evening, not only acted as the host but fulfilled a number of other duties such as refilling drinks, checking on guests, and running food. To me this is the indication of a well trained staff, and experienced member, or both. He was quite young so I think the training is the answer!
After a short wait our waitress, Jennifer, appeared. We ordered some Iced Tea and the Smoked Fish Dip Appetizer. Now, if first impressions mean anything, this was not that great. Wrapped Salines! Ugh! You know, it does not take much to go to Sam's Club or Aldi's (which are not that far away) and get some nice fancy crackers and arrange them on a plate. I think wrapped saltines like these are really deserving of a diner or a dive, not a nice restaurant. However.... the fish dip was really very nice and we enjoyed it. And after all, the appetizer was called a "smoked fish dip" and not "crackers with some stuff on them." So it was all about the fish dip, and that was good. But, if you're listening, Port, get some real crackers, please!
For my entree I ordered the Fried Shrimp. For sides I chose the coleslaw, and Grits. Now, I certainly know my shrimp. I'm always hesitant to order fried shrimp, which I truly love, because I am usually disappointed by thick breading and overcooked shrimp. Well, i am happy to report the my shrimp were simply outstanding, among the best I have ever, EVER had! Yes, they were that good. There were about 10 large shrimp, butterflied. They had a very light batter coating and when fried were light and delicious without any greasiness. And they were cooked absolutely perfectly. To perfection. I was very impressed. My coleslaw as OK, just ordinary I'd say. But the grits were also very good. So many places just throw some grits in milk and water, add salt, and cook them. These were very good, with a hint of onion and maybe something else, very mysterious, very good. I was more than satisfied with my meal. Best shrimp I've had in many, many years, actually. I'll be back!
My friend Tommy ordered the Coconut Chicken. Unfortunately, we had a bit of a misstep here, as the waitress (perhaps on the heels of my shrimp order) thought he ordered coconut shrimp. However, she was very apologetic and maybe five minutes later produced the ordered dish. It was also very good. The chicken was very moist and tender. Neither of us were big fans of the honey mustard that came with it, but both the shrimp sauce and the tartar sauce were much better with it, we thought. It was served with a baked sweet potato (with a side of brown sugar) and some fresh sauteed veggies. They were both very good, as well. But the chicken was the true star of this dish, and it was very good.
A bit later a manager stopped by to apologize for the misstep as well, and to check on us, an nice touch as well.
The Port is on a beautiful site. We ate outside, right along Lake Monroe which is really just a very wide spot on the St. John's river. It really was a very enjoyable evening and we hope to return again soon. Now that I've gotten the seafood part of their menu out of the way, i want to try the steak part, and maybe some of the sandwiches. The menu is very nice and very appealing. I'm sure we'll be back again soon. And you know that I'll give you my honest opinion, good or bad, about their food, service and value. But as of my first visit, and considering that they've been open less than a week, I am very impressed and very hopeful.