Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The District

The District is the newest addition to historic downtown Sanford's growing dining scene, and a welcome addition. They opened quietly in March 2017 and I've seen good crowds in there many times since. We ate there twice, first just a few days after they opened, and secondly a few weeks later.

The first bite I put into my mouth at The District was the Shrimp N Grits. It was a good choice. The shrimp were cooked just perfectly. The cheesy grits with bits of andouille sausage were really among the best cheesy grits I've had, and tomato demi glace gave a wonderful, slightly acidic balance to the grits. The shrimp themselves were very tasty, though I did think the portion a bit meager--there were only 5. I have since seen a Facebook post of this same dish showing 6 shrimp, so maybe they changed that since. However, the dish itself was outstanding, so good.

Tommy chose the Braised Short Ribs, and they, too, were a hit. Though the menu says "no substitutions," he asked if he could get potatoes instead of the mushroom risotto--the waiter checked with the chef and was told "no problem." That's great service. The beef itself was very tender, juicy, and full of flavor, served with a rich demi glace. The veggies were a nice mix of crisp-tender carrots, broccoli, and asparagus. The potatoes were really, really good, like top-10 best mashed potatoes ever. The plate was ready to be licked clean when done, it was all that good.

On our second visit, we decided to try some of the appetizers. We began with the Chicken Dip, which we'd heard lots of good things about. Everyone who raves about this was right, this was very good. The slightly warm chicken dip is a mixture of cream cheese, parmesan, red onions, sour cream, peppers, green chilies, grilled sweet corn, and green onions. It is cream, rich, and flavorful. Then when you put it on a homemade dorito, the flavors and textures explode in your mouth. Talk about good, this is really way up there in appetizer-land, we'd order it again in a heartbeat--and I'm sure we will next visit.

Tommy went for the Potato-Leek Soup and it was a good choice. The soup was a bit chunky, which was nice, but still rich and creamy. You definitely tasted the potato and the leek, they were the stars of the dish. You notice the two spoons in the picture? Yes, i had a few bites of this soup and agree, it was wonderful and I'd definitely order it again!

I chose the Tuna Tacos. The presentation, as you can see, was awesome. The sriracha sauce, in faux-asian lettering, was sprinkled with black and white sesame seeds and was a unique way to present the dish and add a user-controlled portion of sriracha. The ahi tuna itself was very good, and even with the accompanying coleslaw of napa cabbage, daikon radish, cucumbers, sesame oil, and wasabi ponzu, the flavor of the rare tuna came through loud and clear. The taste of all the components, as well as the various textures of crisply and creamy, all worked well together, and made this a wonderful taste explosion. I also thought the portion--three tacos--was perfect for the price. If I had one minor compliant, it was that the flour tortillas were just a bit hard and dry--I'm not sure that's a problem easily solved. But overall, it was a very good dish and I'd order it again. 

The District is a beautiful space, a remodelled old building in Sanford's Commercial Business District. The are the second gastropub in downtown and feature a beautiful bar, craft cocktails, and nicely transformed setting. Their opening took a lot longer than planned, and I understand it took a lot of hard work, including removing/redoing the concrete floors and all-new plumbing. The are basically set up as two connected rooms. On the left is a dining area, and on the right is the bar area, with the kitchen presumably behind the bar. We sat in the bar area both times. Our service was good and for a newly opened place, I was surprised and pleased by the lack of any major issues. Both times one of the owners was around to check on us and chat, that was nice as well. I'm sure we'll be going back again and again--there are a few more items on the menu I want to try. They also have a different, lunch menu, which I've yet to try--that is on my "do it soon" list as well. I heartily recommend The District. Give it a try and let me know what you think!