130 years of history have seen a livery become a jail become a restaurant. Time marches on in Sanford, where The Old Jailhouse opened February 12 after months of careful renovation.
I’ve been invited to a holding cell before by Charlotte, North Carolina’s finest. It’s not a nice place. The service sucks and there’s not an amuse bouche within shivving distance. From what I’ve seen, Sanford’s Old Jailhouse will be much more accommodating.
Bram Fowler will front the Jailhouse kitchen, specializing in plates inspired by the “American Sunbelt.” When I was a wee ‘suthnuh,’ the “Sunbelt” was the Southeast. The Old Jailhouse has broadened the moniker to encompass southern cuisine from sea to shining sea.
Originally from Cape Town, South Africa, Fowler is a three-time winner of the Chef Challenge at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts and former jefe at Journeys restaurant in Longwood. He has chops. He also has a following and a beautiful building to work from.
Should the food live up to snuff, this should be a resto with long legs. The first drips of instapics are painting a picture of the soul-satisfying variety. The type of stuff that sticks to your bones. Think braised pork belly with buttermilk biscuits. There’s also local Sanford brews on tap, inventive craft cocktails, and wines by the glass (and, of course, bottle).
So, headed up the river? Point your GPS to Sanford. Just remember: On your first visit, pick out the biggest, baddest dude in the dining room and punch him in the face.
Mondays-Wednesdays the dinner bell rings at 5 p.m. and kitchen closes at 9 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 5 p.m. til close. Currently closed on Sundays.