The Polite Pig, a new fast-casual entry into the Disney Springs dining scene, recently opened to much fanfare, and we were there to try it out! A new concept and location from the minds behind the renowned Orlando eateries Ravenous Pig, Cask & Larder, and Swine & Sons, Polite Pig offers Southern barbeque, beer, and bourbon in a “quick service” atmosphere. Here, I’ll give you some of my first impressions from the restaurant, and a few thoughts on all of the dishes we sampled in our visit for our Polite Pig review.
There will surely be a line here whenever you visit Disney Springs – Polite Pig occupies prime real estate just outside the entrance/exit of Lime Garage, directly across from UNIQLO and just a few storefronts down from World of Disney. The distinct barbecue smell that wafts outside the fast-casual eatery is intoxicating enough to draw you into line to order or to pull up a seat at the indoor or outdoor bourbon bar (where the full menu is also available).
Sparse in decoration, the atmosphere isn’t going to impress immediately (though the bourbon bar is beautiful). Brass pig’s feet are sprinkled throughout the restaurant’s floor, encouraging guests to follow the food to their selected tables upon ordering. Servers will then deliver your food to you, and also continue to take care of you throughout your meal – if you need drink refills, or want to order any additional food or dessert, they’re around to help you out without needing to go back to the ordering area yourself.
Overall, our food arrived pretty quickly after we ordered – a feat considering the sheer amount of items we sampled. Any cocktails or beers you order will come to you before you even leave the counter to find a table, at which point you can make your way to the self-serve drink stations and the barbecue sauce bar full of condiments for your incoming dishes. Speaking of food – what did we try? (So many things.) What did we like? (Some of these many things.) Would I return for a future meal? (Definitely.) Here are all the details:
Mostly snack-y things to share at your table before the barbecue feast arrives, many of these items are suitable as entrees if you’re looking for a smaller meal to accompany a drink stop in Disney Springs.
I somehow couldn’t stop snacking on these crunchy treats – especially dipped in the sour vinegar for a little added depth. The barbecue dust on the cracklin’ exterior wasn’t overly flavorful, but the vinegar pop helped enhance the smoky sweet BBQ flavor. This is a definite must-do-again for me, even if I just drop in for a drink and a snack while shopping nearby.
I wasn’t a huge fan of these wings, but the pickled carrots dipped in the BBQ ranch were a sour/sweet/salty/smoky treat from the heavens. The wings themselves had a sweet and savory sauced exterior, but were a little overdone for my taste. Portion-wise, this is a sizeable snack or shareable appetizer for a family.
- Simple Greens Salad with Apples, Carrots, Sunflower Seeds, and White Balsamic Dressing ($9.00)
One of the only vegan options on the menu (and one of few truly vegetarian options), this salad is far more than simple and far better than you’re probably imagining. The tangy, rich-and-light white balsamic helps the fresh produce really shine here, and it served as a great palate cleanser from all the richness of our other dishes. For those in search of a lighter meal option, give this salad a shot with added smoked chicken or salmon.
Probably one of the best soft pretzels I’ve encountered at Walt Disney World, this appetizer was definitely worth ordering. One note: it’s a huge portion, easily serving 4+ people, so plan accordingly with entrees if you want to conquer this whole pretzel. I didn’t find the beer cheese fondue overwhelmingly satisfying (the gelatinous texture was a little off-putting for me, but the mild flavor was just fine), in contrast to the IPA mustard that really popped and made this a successful dish. Our table also found dipping the pretzel in the sweet-but-still-vinegar-forward Carolina gold mustard off the sauce bar to be the real winner.
Sandwiches tend to be large in size, but do not come with any sides (which you can add for an additional $4). Entrée portions are reasonable and come with a choice of side, so for the price, these seem to be the way to go. Kid’s meal options are relatively banal, so if you have a kid craving barbecue, your best bet is to share off your own plate.
Crispy fried chicken sandwiches can be tough to find, and this hit the spot in that respect (without rendering the chicken overdone). I didn’t feel like the hot honey added a whole lot to the flavor profile of the sandwich, nor did the pimento cheese (a bit disappointing, because I love pimento cheese!). Overall, this was definitely a better fried chicken sandwich than you can sample at Planet Hollywood but it’s not quite as satisfying as the fried chicken sandwich found at Homecomin’.
A hearty portion, and though this sandwich isn’t revolutionary, it is satisfying. A light hand with the mustard dressing and sweet celery and grapes helps create depth with the large chunks of smoky chicken without overwhelming the meat. I wouldn’t run to this over any of the traditional barbeque dishes, but for those with non-BBQ eaters in tow, this is a solid option.
- Wild Salmon with Maple-Mustard Glaze ($18.00)
This was probably my least favorite of the entrees, though the fish was well-cooked and the glaze was flavorful. I just didn’t feel like the two flavors married well together, but it will be a good choice if you’re looking for lighter-but-still-barbecue-ish food. For the price, this was also a great portion of high-quality fish.
Smoky flavors abound here, almost overpowering any flavor the chicken had originally. I wasn’t fond of the texture of the chicken, either, but it was a great lighter option, and a perfect vehicle for trying all of the various barbecue sauces Polite Pig has on tap.
- Pork Shoulder with Polite Rub ($14.00)
This was another option that didn’t wow me, but primarily because it was a very fatty portion, so your mileage may vary depending on that. I liked the savory-sweet flavor profile in the rub, which didn’t overpower the natural sweetness of the pork, and this meat paired best with the accompanying slaw.
- Brisket with Coffee Rub ($16.00)
Our portion seemed like it had been bathing in the brisket jus a bit too long, as it was almost too tender to eat. I missed the traditional “bark” flavor from the brisket here, as well, so I never really got much of the coffee rub they advertise as the central flavor. I would, however, give this another shot in sandwich form (also served as a melt with the beer cheese fondue and caramelized onions).
- St. Louis Ribs with Layla Sweet Rub ($19.00)
I’m normally not fond of ribs, but this was by far my favorite entrée of our visit. Tender without falling off the bone (perfectly cooked!), the rub on the ribs was packed with herbs and smoky sweet spices that really elevated the meat’s flavor. I will definitely be back to sample these again, especially with the addition of one of the seven barbecue sauces from the sauce bar.
Here’s where Polite Pig really shines overall. The entrees were fairly solid, but I found myself coming back to sample many of the side dishes time and time again. Order an entrée to get a side included, sample one a la carte for $6 each, or splurge on a side sampler with your choice of three for $15.
Corn on the cob is tough to navigate with plastic silverware, if I’m honest. The smokiness of the corn here is awesome, but I missed the punch of acid in the lime butter that I really craved to help overcome all the sweetness. Our corn was also a tad overdone, so it was a little more mushy in texture than tender-crisp.
- Charred Broccoli with Herb Buttermilk and Granola ($6.00)
A take on cold broccoli salad very traditional at Southern potlucks, this was a new way to try a very divisive vegetable. The char on the broccoli was incredibly flavorful – a little added bitterness brought out the fresh and sweet flavor of the veggie, and the buttermilk ranch-style dressing kept the dish from being too dry (though I could’ve used a bit more).
The whiskey caramel on these brussels sprouts will be divisive – I found it a tad too sweet for my tastes, but those who are more afraid of the vegetable will probably love it for covering up some of the bitterness and “green” flavors. These didn’t arrive at our table super crisp, but they were well-roasted and deep in flavor without being mushy, so I’m on board with them.
- BBQ Cauliflower with Paprika Sour Cream ($6.00)
Who knew cauliflower could taste this good, honestly? The smoke and spices of the barbecuing process really transformed this into a must-try dish, and the cool and tangy paprika sour cream on the side made this the perfect dipping snack. My only complaint is that I wanted a bit more of that sour cream – it was the perfect accompaniment, but we barely had a full dollop in our portion.
I know, you probably balked at this after seeing “kale” just like I did, but this was a contender for one of the top side dishes, for me. A light mustard dressing and bits of super-savory bacon make this potato salad decadent without being completely over-the-top. The kale brings it back down to reality by adding a little bitter and sweet to the mix, a completely satisfying bite for your palate. Bonus: this potato salad will pair well with pretty much any dish on the menu.
- Mac and Cheese with Aged Cheddar and Breadcrumbs ($6.00)
In short, this was a disappointment. Overdone noodles and orange, flavorless cheese sauce did this dish no favors, especially when an awesome version is found just around the corner at Homecomin’. I’ll give it another shot in a future visit, just in case this was a fluke, but I really wasn’t impressed with this side given the other great options at Polite Pig.
The only other forgettable side dish we sampled, the beans here weren’t all done and the sauce needed a pop of acid from the lemon I never seemed to find here. Steer towards the veggies and potato salads here- traditional sides seem to be less impressive.
Only two options on tap, but both will satisfy your sweet tooth in a pinch.
I’ll preface this by saying we ordered several pieces of each of the desserts, and the cake was the perfect case-study for Polite Pig’s “homemade in-house” inconsistencies between batches. One piece of our cake was delightfully fluffy, light and airy, with the sweet cream cheese icing and orange blossom honey coating on the top taking it to dreamy dessert land. Our other two pieces of cake were underdone, bordering on gummy – an unpleasant eating experience, even though the flavors were still on point. I’ll definitely order this again if I’m at Polite Pig for a meal, but I’ll be interested to see which version of the cake I get.
I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m a sucker for a good slice of key lime pie. This key lime pie is good, but not mind-blowingly great. It would benefit from an extra key lime’s worth of fresh juice – it was just slightly too sweet and not quite lime-y enough. A smaller portion than the cake, I’d skip this and head to nearby Amorette’s for their tart version instead (about the same portion size and price, but better flavor).
As with any new restaurant, it seems like The Polite Pig has a few inconsistencies in preparation to iron out in the coming weeks. I was impressed with many dishes, disappointed in a few, with a couple I hope to try again soon. Pricewise, the entrees with a side are a good bet for a quick service-priced meal with better-than-quick-service food – a rarity in Disney Springs (and increasingly, all around Walt Disney World).
Reasonably priced (for Disney) cocktails on tap ($10), a wide variety of great local beers, and an extensive bourbon list will draw many in for an occasional drink-and-snack stop, too. Overall, I will certainly make Polite Pig a regular part of my Disney dining experience – it’s a better version of barbecue than what’s available at House of Blues’ Smokehouse, better prices than D-Luxe Burger, and faster service than Cookes of Dublin, all wrapped up in a cozy (and centrally-located) package.