Three words: Buttermilk Chess Pie.
The Polite Pig
And three more: The Polite Pig. That’s where you’ll find it!
The Polite Pig is a fast-casual dining location serving up “modern barbecue” in the Town Center neighborhood of Disney Springs. It’s got a fantastic pedigree, being owned and operated by James Beard-nominated James and Julie Petrakis and James’ brother Brian — all of whom own restaurants in Winter Park and Orlando.
One of their restaurants — The Ravenous Pig — is The Polite Pig’s hungry older sister. And the reputation earned by that restaurant followed to the smaller Disney Springs location. And if you’re wondering where the politeness comes in, it’s everywhere.
Even on the walls!
The Polite Pig decor story is an eclectic mix of polished subway tile, industrial lights and rails, and colorful wood. It’s definitely the kind of place where you feel like you can kick back and relax.
Seating varies from chairs to booths to hightops. There’s plenty of room here — space for 200 diners! So finding a seat is rarely an issue. (We’ll see how this holds up through the busy holiday season!)
There’s also seating at the indoor bar.
And even more at the outside bar and on the patio.
You need to know that the paper towels on every table are not ornamental. Nope. You’re gonna need ‘em. Because The Polite Pig is known for — among other things — its selection of seven sauces. Take a gander at the descriptions…
Then dispense at will! It’s fun to test a few and see what works best with your meal. So experiment! Just be polite about it, you know. Please. Thank you. Excuse me, please, I need a napkin because I have sauce in my lap.
You can also find Spiced Vinegar and Hot Sauce varieties at the sauce bar. So you might spend a little time here gathering your condiments.
You’ll also want to hit up the ice cold drinks, including Blue Sky sodas.
But what are all those sauces for? The EATS.
The Polite Pig kindly serves up meats that come from their smoker. (You can watch a little of that smoker action while you wait, too!) The menu includes some unusual sides, including BBQ Cauliflower.
We tried the The Southern Pig on our last visit, but I’m always looking to sample new things. So on this visit I ordered up the Barbecue Cheddar Sausage with Bourbon Glaze.
It was very flavorful and very dry. I’m a big fan of cheddar sausage barbecue where I live in Texas (admittedly one of the barbecue capitals of the country), so I had high expectations — and Polite Pig didn’t meet them with this one. The dryness of the sausage couldn’t be overcome by the good flavors — even with the melted cheese inside — and I had no incentive to finish the serving. I did enjoy the Bourbon Glaze, but, again, if the sausage itself is dry, no amount of sauce is going to save it.
I also had to try the Mac and Cheese again, since I’ve been so underwhelmed with mac and cheese in Disney World recently. This time…meh. It’s made with aged cheddar and breadcrumbs (the first iteration of this dish back when Polite Pig opened included cottage cheese and parmesan, so there were more interesting flavors going on). This time it fell flat. The top was overcooked. The bottom wasn’t creamy at all. It was okay to eat, but I didn’t feel compelled to keep digging into it.
I also had to get the Brussels Sprouts. Yes. You read that correctly. Why? Because they were crispy and delicious the first time we tried them. But this time, much like the Mac and Cheese, these fell flat. The whiskey caramel added some sweetness, and they were certainly crispy. But nothing in the flavor profile made them sing.
But just when I was about to give up on the Polite Pig, I decided to get dessert. And I’m happy to say that the visit wasn’t a total bust, because the brand new-to-the-menu Buttermilk Chess Pie was seriously incredible. Chess pie is basically pecan pie without the pecans. So, pretty much just butter, eggs, and sugar — which is, by definition, amazing. The buttermilk lightens up the traditional filling , while you still get some oat-y, nutty goodness on the top for texture variety. It was killer. The one item in the whole meal that I really wanted to keep eating.
FYI — If you’re in the Tampa area, this pie is actually made by Mike’s Pies. So, conveniently, you also can buy me a whole pie and send it just in time for the holidays . For now, I’m just glad I got to try it here.
Nosh or Not
You’ll want to kindly stop by The Polite Pig if:
- You want to try someplace new in Disney Springs.
- You are a sauce connoisseur and want to sample several here.
- You listened carefully when I told you to try the Buttermilk Chess Pie. If so, good job. You passed!
You might want to pig out somewhere else if:
- You’re not a big meat eater, and the vegetarian sides don’t interest you.
- You have limited time to dine in Disney Springs and want to try some always-good options.
- You don’t like awesome desserts like Buttermilk Chess Pie and aren’t afraid to disappoint me by skipping this one.
The ingredients (no pun intended) are all there with The Polite Pig: cool vibe, and a strong menu with traditional BBQ along with more creative choices, including a lot of options for vegetarians with the sides. Unfortunately, on this visit Polite Pig fell really flat for me. This may be a case of “just having a bad day,” or it could be that since it’s successful opening, Polite Pig has been resting on its laurels and not trying as hard.
As always, we’ll be back — we always come back — to check it out another day. And, if nothing else, we’ll be getting more of that Buttermilk Chess Pie.
What hidden gems have you discovered in Disney Springs lately? Let us know in the comments!