Address: 1609 S. Horner Blvd. Sanford NC
My Dish: Shrimp and Grits
The Rundown: There are some really great places to eat in Sanford, North Carolina. And there are some really awful places to eat in Sanford, North Carolina. I suppose this is true anywhere. So I don’t really know where I was going with that.
I will say there are some very average restaurants in Sanford that people swear by. I’d heard good things about the new Oyster Bar on Horner Boulevard, so my curiosity was there. But would it be good or “good” …? Know what I mean?
I’m going to stop this intro before I sound like a snob.
My wife and our two very young and very picky children went to the aforementioned Oyster Bar a few weeks back … our expectations low. Our first surprise was the atmosphere … linen table cloths, black-tied servers, nice bar. I suppose with a name like Oyster Bar, the look and feel can be anything.
The menu reflected the look. If you’re going to order lobster or filet mignon, you’re going to pay handsomely. Items like shrimp and grits ($14) and the crab cake sandwich ($10) are affordable, however (so are oysters, but I have a rule … don’t try oysters from a place you don’t trust yet, even if it’s called an oyster bar). So I ordered the shrimp and grits, and my wife ordered the crab cake sandwich.
Before all of that came out, we got hushpuppies. And they were great. They aren’t fancy, but hushpuppies rarely are. My wife liked the jalapeno butter that came with it, and I dug the honey butter. We went through two baskets of them (they’re a hit with the kids).
But then came the entrees. And because I’m by no means a food critic, I won’t go into the intricacies of my shrimp and grits. I will say that they were good. Great, even. A little heavy on the oil (as shown in the photo above, though when you mix it in the grits, it’s quite good), the dish was a hit for me and my wife. The shrimp is outstanding, and the extras (a citrus taste, diced cherry tomatoes, green onions) were very good. The andouille sausage was average, but I’m nit-picking here. I devoured it.
And the crabcake sandwich, according to my wife, was an A. Not over-fried, big chunks of crab … made her want to order the crabcake entree (which is $20 … which is why we went with the sandwich).
If I sound surprised, it’s because I was.
Like I said earlier, Sanford does have some fine places to eat. For my money, nothing beats the Steele Pig (which has amazing shrimp and grits). But I’ve eaten at a few places others have sworn by and came away feeling kinda “meh” … or worse.
Not so here. The food was great. The service was great. And they had a nice little crowd that night … which is great for Sanford. I hope more quality restaurants choose us for business.
Price: Like I said, there are some items I’d have to take out a small loan for, but there’s enough on the menu to please working stiffs like me.
Verdict: It gets an A. Atmosphere, service and food were all pleasant surprises. We’ll be back.