Monday, March 11, 2019

The Old Jailhouse Restaurant and Bar

I had the privilege of tasting the menu of The Old Jailhouse Restaurant and Bar, a fantastic new addition to Sanford, at a private media event, and I was totally impressed. First of all, the atmosphere is top notch. This fine restaurant is in a historic building which at one time was the county jail. It has been meticulously restored and refurbished, yet with a decided modern touch. The bars are still on the windows, and many historic elements have been preserved and enhanced. So the whole dining experience is really fantastic. But on top of this is a creative Southern US-leaning menu by acclaimed Florida Chef Bram Fowler. I tasted quite a few appetizers and entrees, and will be back soon for more. 

Tops on my list was the Creole Lamb--it was so flavorful and tender, the best lamb I've ever had. 

The Firegrilled Steak (teres major) was utterly melt-in-your mouth tender. 

The Jailbird (chicken) was equally tender and juicy--you can tell this was no ordinary chicken--they use locally sourced ingredients when at all possible. 

The Low Country Shrimp and Sausage Skewer is an experience in itself, as they pour Sausage Gravy and you watch it travel down the skewer and flavor the grits and collard greens; then the shrimp and sausage are removed and the last of the gravy poured over--fantastic presentation, creativity, and taste. 

Appetizers are wonderful as well. 

My favorites included the Waterkist Farms Tomatoes (heirloom tomatoes that actually have good tomato flavor). 

I also loved the  Chicken Wings (sort of Alabama style with a white sauce).

Not pictured is the Brussels Sprout Petal Salad (individual petals of the Brussels sprouts have been wilted and served with strawberries, goat cheese, toasted pine nuts, and a berry viniagrette). It was very good. 

There's more on the menu I have yet to taste but want the Roasted Whole Cauliflower and the Crispy Brussels Sprouts and Okra. The menu also includes a burger, vegetarian options (like the Portabello Sandwich), and seafood as well (Sunbelt Cioppino), pictured below.

Service was also excellent (but keep in mind this visit was a media preview night, and not regular service), our waitress described each dish as it was brought out and also kept our wine glasses full. Since they just opened, I've been keeping tabs and have talked to a number of friends who have visited. All in all, it's been a great experience for all and most talked about is the atmosphere as well. And still, the prices are reasonable, right in line with other local fine dining establishments.

And then there is the bar and the craft cocktails: 

The space itself is gorgeous. I only sampled one cocktail (the cleverly named Birdman of Alcatraz, pictured in the foreground above), but it was excellent and ingenious, and there are more I want to try. A great select of local tap beers and wine, besides the hard liquor, has something for everyone.

Sanford is fast becoming a food destination with a number of great, locally owned and operated restaurants. The Old Jailhouse is a welcome addition, but makes it even hard to decide, "where do I want to dine tonight." This is a new favorite and we'll be back--again and again. 

The Old Jailhouse serves dinner Monday-Wednesday, 5-9 PM and Thursday - Saturday, 5 PM to close. Lunch is served Thursday - Saturday 11 AM - 2 PM. They are closed Sundays. They have a a Walk-In policy (and over 150 seats), but do take reservations only for parties of 8 or more. The have a few special rooms as well. You have to see this place to believe it!


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