I've eaten at The Tennessee Truffle in downtown Sanford three times now. There's a reason I keep coming back, and that's excellent and adventurous food, with local, fresh ingredients, done right!
The Tennessee Truffle is Sanford's first "pop-up" restaurant--the idea is to pop up a new concept restaurant quick and easy for 30 days, and see what happens. If it takes of, then it'll be around a lot longer. But, if in 30 days it flounders, well then time to move on. Based on my experience there, I hope they're around for a lot longer than 30 days, I really liked everything I've had there. More about the concept later.
My first chance at tasting their food was even before it opened--I was invited to write a blog about it on the Sanford365 blog. Lucky me, because it was great and I got a personal preview. Read that article for more.
It was so good, I had to go back--on their second day open! I went for lunch and thoroughly enjoyed it. I had the pork loin sandwich on a biscuit and potato salad. I added on a side of collard greens as well. The pork loin was excellent, tender and juicy, not dry. it was topped with a marmalade or chutney made with sweet onions and applesauce--the perfect balance for pork. I will say that eating a sandwich on a biscuit is a bit of a challenge--the biscuit was very tender and flaky. But it was oh, so good. My potato salad was light and refreshing, red potatoes dressed with some mayo and just a bit of red onion and red bell pepper. Truly delicious. The collards as well were very good with nice chunks of what i believe were duroc pork--they were tender and flavorful.
Tommy had the BLT, but not your ordinary BLT. The bacon was duroc pork. He found it a bit salty and a bit hard to eat on the biscuit. The lettuce and tomato were very fresh. To go with he had a warm macaroni and tomato salad. This was an unexpected and pleasant surprise. It was very, very good!
On our second trip there, I went in specifically for one thing: the Sausage Gravy & Biscuit. I was not at all disappointed. This may well be the best sausage gravy and biscuit I've ever had! Ever! First off, the biscuit was exquisite, large, tender, flaky, buttery--just a lot of goodness.The gravy was packed full of very flavorful sausage and had a hint of fennel in it. This was a perfect counterpoint to the chervil that graced the top of the dish--it added that over-the-top element to what was already a great dish. I could easily find myself addicted to this dish, it was that good.
Along with this I ordered a single egg, over medium. It was perfectly seasoned and cooked perfectly. Tommy had two eggs over medium and some toast which he really liked. He also had some local honey over the toast and that was a big hit as well. I'd certainly go back, and there are a few other things on the menu that i really, really want to try.
The concept of The Tennessee Truffle is true southern cooking. Chef Nat Russel grew up in Tennessee and the restaurant gets its name from pickled ramps (made in-house) which in Tennessee is known as a Tennessee Truffle--now you know the rest of the story. They specialize in locally sourced, organic, and fresh ingredients and the menu may change based on availability. On the preview day, I had the privilege of sampling five other dishes as well. I started off with the creamed corn, made in house with fresh Ocoee corn, some pickled ramps (the Tennessee truffle), and a dash of espelette, an mild pepper. Excellent.
After that it was on to the Ansen Mills Grits, a really outstanding dish and probably the best grits I've ever had. We moved on to some roasted baby carrots (yellow and orange) served with a sort of whole grain mustard and tarragon sauce. Again, a hit. Then it was on to a Bibb lettuce salad that was very fresh and had a great dressing. We finished with a Chicken Salad--more fresh, what more can I say.
Tennessee Truffle is the brain child of Nat Russell, formerly an executive chef at a fine dining restaurant in Winter Park. He sees the potential and has taken a risk. From my view, he's made a great choice and Sanford is lucky to have him. I hope he's around a lot longer than 30 days, but is suggest you run there now (Tuesday-Saturday, 7:30 AM to 2 PM) and not chance it!