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Friday, August 11th, 2017
Dining Reviews

Pork Therapy and More at the Perfect Pig

My family and I had just returned from a vacation (with plenty of driving), jumping into a busy workweek with no transition time. I needed some restoration. Since the word “restaurant” itself means a place to be restored, the answer was easy— go out to eat.

The Perfect Pig has two locations, one in Seagrove and one in Gulf Place. We ate at Gulf Place, near the foot of CR-393 where it spills out onto the Gulf via Ed Walline Park.

The restaurant sits just off the road, a yellow-buff structure with plenty of windows and several shaded outside tables. We ate inside, in the main dining area. There’s a smaller dining space in the bar/lounge, complete with a pianist. Table sizes vary. The walls are whitewashed brick, tables are wooden, with sturdy woven straw chairs. Colors are beige, brown, gold and natural wood, with accent plants. Ceilings are high, and there’s a cheerful, bustling bistro feel.

On one wall is a painted sign bearing the house motto—“Praise the Lard,” a sentiment reiterated on coffee mugs, shirts and elsewhere. The restaurant’s name and slogan might suggest a pork-centric menu. While pork does get a good run, there are plenty of other dining options as well.

The Perfect Pig has separate menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We were there for dinner. The dinner menu offers appetizers, salads, flatbreads, main course items, and desserts. The bar serves up beer, wine, and a list of classic and modern cocktails.

For a starter, we ordered a plate of house made pork rinds, with a red wine barbecue dipping sauce. Other app choices were warm, almond crusted goat cheese with mixed berry compote and pita chips, rosemary bread with olive and balsamic dipping oil, and pulled pork nacho chips with basil pesto aioli and sprinkled blue cheese. There were three of us (including our daughter, the Tiny Diner), and we almost chose the nachos. Someone at another table got them, and the portion was so large we decided to back off. It’s big enough for a meal.

Or server Amy warmed up TD by asking her about school, which initiated a lengthy and detailed response from my socially un-backward child. Amy and all the house staff who took care of us were friendly and attentive.

The rinds arrived, a mound of crunchy, savory but nevertheless light Pork Chips, just salty enough, with a tangy, scallion-laced dipping sauce. TD professes that she does not like pork, but apparently forgot that, because she helped out.

For the main course, my wife ordered a 10-ounce grilled pork chop with bacon succotash, (more) pork rinds and the red wine barbecue sauce. I chose pork tenderloin medallions served over gruyere grits, with a blackberry pinot noir sauce. TD stepped away from the swine for a grilled cheese.

After we’d demolished the rinds, we sat back to take in the scene. I realized I had finally come to a resting place— busy but focused staffers, guests laughing and conversing, the day coming in for a landing.

The main courses arrived. TD’s sandwich was grownup sized, with a blend of cheeses on crunchy grilled bread, and chips. My wife’s tender, bone-in chop was likewise generous, and bacon is just the thing to make me want to eat succotash. I got four chunky medallions, resting on a wide puddle of gruyere-laced grits. The pork was perfectly cooked, the grits pillowy and cheesy, and the deep red fruit and wine sauce sported a plump blackberry garnish. I got no rinds, but helped my wife out with hers.

Other entree options were bronzed mahi mahi with lump crab over couscous, smoked chicken with grits, crab cakes, potato and parmesan-crusted grouper with risotto, a pasta special (chicken that night), filet mignon with chimichurri and vegetables, New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp, grilled airline chicken breast with heirloom tomatoes and Swiss chard, and salmon marinated in yogurt and baked in a citrus crust.

Salads included deconstructed corn, couscous, garbanzo bean, tomato, onion and cheese, caprese, mozzarella and tomatoes, bacon Caesar, and smoked chicken with mixed greens. Flatbreads came with fig spread, caramelized onions, prosciutto and gruyere, and tomato, mozzarella, parmesan and pesto.

There were four desserts—flourless chocolate cake, cheesecake, bread pudding, and key lime pie. We went for the lightest sounding, the key lime. It’s a classic—dense, thick and tangy, with graham crust and whipped cream. My wife called a halt after a few bites, and TD and I negotiated the rest.

Restoration accomplished.


THE PERFECT PIG GRILL AND FISH HOUSE

7 Town Center Loop

Santa Rosa Beach

850-660-1591

Hours: Open Daily for Breakfast and Lunch, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.; Bar Only, 3-5 p.m.; Dinner, 5-9 p.m.

Reservations: Accepted

Children’s Menu: Yes

Dress: Casual

The Perfect Pig’s house motto is “Praise the Lard,” and you can receive that blessing with pulled pork, chops, tenderloin, bacon and house made rinds. Or you can enjoy fish, shellfish, chicken and beef options, plus pasta and salads. Friendly, lively bistro atmosphere with a full bar and live music. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, $8-33.