by Thomas Miller – Food Blogger / Restaurant Critic for Vero Vine
Recently renamed to Southern Social
Swine & Co. has been one of the most highly anticipated restaurant openings in Vero since I started writing my restaurant reviews last November. I’ve heard people around town talking about it, curious about when they will open, but I could not find much information about it on the internet. I was lucky enough to receive an invitation to a soft opening this past Saturday night to get a closer look. Nick and Angela Novak, owners of Filthy’s Fine Cocktails & Beer, are teaming up with a former Riverside Cafe employee John Scarr and Chef Mike Van Buskirk, of Orchid Island Golf & Beach Club and Cobalt. They believe they have created something unique to the local restaurant scene. Do they have what it takes to survive in the crowded, yet impressive restaurant space in Vero? Let’s dive right in and see what this place has to offer.
They are located on 14th avenue, a little bit north of Baci Trattoria on the east side of the street. They occupy the space that once housed Avanzare. Street parking is available along 14th Ave, unfortunately do not have space for their own parking lot. The building has gone through extensive renovations, so much that you would not recognize it if you dined at Avanzare previously. The outside has been painted black and they added a large Swine & Co. sign in white on the front of the building. Since I never had an opportunity to dine at Avanzare, I don’t know what the interior looked like, but it does appear that it got a complete makeover. The interior design is what I like to call “gastro pub’ style, with the black ceilings, exposed air ducts, stained concrete floors, wood and metal chairs, rustic light fixtures with Edison bulbs, and reclaimed pallet wood on the walls with a large Swine & Co. sign hung on it. They have one wall with a leather booth and a communal high top table in the middle of the main dining room.
Now on to my favorite part of the evening! Let’s take a look and see what I had to eat and drink!
Perfect Pear Margarita (Left) – ($10.00) – My wife joined me and this was the drink that she ordered. It’s made with Partida Blanco tequila, Thacher’s Prickly Pear Liqueur, lime juice, and agave nectar, served over ice. It was a little bit tart from the Thacher’s pear liqueur, yet you could still taste the generous pour of the tequila. The black you see on the glass is a black salt to complete the margarita presentation.
How Tea Shuld Bee (Right) – ($10.00) – When we got the two drinks, we were confused, since the name of mine had “tea” in it, and the taller glass actually looked like it had tea in the bottom of it. The smaller glass actually looked like something a margarita would be served in. It contains Milk Washed Tea Vodka, honey syrup, lemon, and salt. It must have had a fair amount of lemon in it because it was very tart. The honey syrup did help to sweeten it a little bit. I tend to like my drinks sweeter, so needless to say this was not my “cup of tea” so to speak, but if you like tart drinks, you’ll love this one.
Deviled Eggs – ($9.00) – Made the traditional way, but kicked up a notch by adding candied bacon and chives, it gave them a slightly sweet and smoky flavor from the candied bacon, and the chives gave it a subtle onion flavor. I don’t make these that often outside of the holidays, but I should considering how good they are. I’m also stealing their idea and adding bacon to my recipe since they were so good with it.
Fried Green Tomato BLT – ($14.00) – Up next is a twist on a classic dish. It’s made with green tomatoes that have been battered and fried, then topped with pimento cheese sauce, next is a slice of roasted pork belly, and finally topped with fried greens as a garnish. The tomatoes were nice and crispy, but I thought were a little bit under seasoned. The saltiness of the pork belly did make up for what the tomatoes were lacking in seasoning.
Southern Ramen – ($17.00) – I’m embarrassed to admit that as a foodie, this was my first ever bowl of ramen. If they are all as good as this one was, then I have definitely been missing out. It’s made with braised pork, a soft cooked egg, mushrooms, cilantro, a spicy chili sauce., and topped off with green onions as a garnish. With a name like Swine & Co, the pork had better be spectacular, right? In this case, it was! The pork was moist, tender, and very flavorful. The ramen noodles were plentiful, and seemed to be bathing in a wonderful pork broth. Hands down, my favorite dish of the night and the one I am going to order next time I eat here.
Pork Tenderloin – ($18.00) – Once again they prove why the name Swine is first on the sign, because they have made another excellent pork dish. It’s cooked via the Sous Vide method, then grilled. Served over brussel sprout leaves, a sweet corn succotash, and finished with a bourbon molasses reduction sauce. The pork was fork tender and out of this world good. The brussel sprout leaves were perfectly cooked, and the sweet corn succotash was excellent. The bourbon molasses sauce was sticky and sweet, and paired well with the pork.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse ($7.00) – I did not see the dessert offerings on the menu, so we asked our waitress what our options were. When she said “Chocolate and Peanut Butter” she had my attention, and I said I’ll have one of those! Served in a small glass jar, was this smooth and creamy peanut butter mousse that had chocolate chips in it, topped with a round of chocolate, then topped with whipped cream and mint leaves. For those that love chocolate and peanut butter, this dessert is hard to beat!
Swine & Co. is definitely filling a void in the Vero restaurant scene that is unlike any other that I am aware of. With the semi industrial, yet comfortable atmosphere, their unconventional dishes and drinks, I think they definitely have the winning formula to bring people back time and time again. “Creative Food with Southern Charm” is what Swine & Co. is all about and they certainly deliver both very well.
Have you tried Swine & Co? What has your experience been with them? Sound off in the comments below and let me know your thoughts, or feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions or comments.
Atmosphere – 5 Forks
Service – 5 Forks
Food – 4 Forks
Ratings Scale Legend:
1 to 5 Forks – 1 Bad to 5 Excellent
Swine and Co, 1932 14th Ave, Vero Beach, FL 32960, USA
Hours: Open 7 days a week, 4:00pm til 10:00pm, Brunch served Saturday and Sunday, 10:00am til 4:00pm.