Saturday night began with porch sitting and drinking wine in a paper cup. I enjoyed the evening’s remaining summer heat with Hal Parson of Escazú Artisan Chocolates and James Naquin of Guglhupf as we waited for our seating at the Stanbury’s soft opening. Friends and family of Drew Maykuth and brothers Joseph and Will Jeffers were walking out of Stanbury with smiles on their faces, boasting at the delicious and innovative food. Drew was formerly the chef at The Admiral in Asheville, and he met Joseph and Will at Warren Wilson College. They decided to channel their passion for food and local agriculture into an eclectic restaurant, Stanbury.
Stanbury has a laid-back atmosphere and is located in Raleigh’s Mordecai neighborhood. The owners have poured their hearts and souls into the restaurant, which is represented in the unique decor. Will’s impressive woodworking is displayed above the open kitchen, where he’s turned old wooden palettes into art.
You’ll also notice wild animals throughout the restaurant, including a stuffed wildcat guarding liquor bottles at the bar. My favorite is the boar’s head hanging next to the garage door that opens up to the patio.
The “Stanbury Rd.” street sign, once found in a metal scrap yard, now hangs above a tufted red leather booth at the Stanbury. Finally, dreams to open a restaurant have been turned into a reality.
Not only is the decor representative of the owners, but the food also has a lot of heart. Stanbury’s modern American farm-to-table menu is based on local and seasonal ingredients. Expect to see a new menu each month along with daily changes. Our meal during the Stanbury’s soft opening began with oysters from Sewansecott, VA and Kumamoto, WA and served with mignonette sauce.
Stanbury’s dishes acknowledge the importance of texture. The lightly cured NC mackerel was served with puffed rice, which added a crunch factor to the dish. The mackerel was also accompanied by avocado, cucumber, radish, cilantro and lemon emulsion.
The green beans were a crowd favorite. Fresh, crisp green beans were served in a ramp ranch with smoked blue fish, red pepper and crispy shallots.
Seeing bone marrow on a menu in Raleigh excites me. Stanbury’s roasted marrow is served with parsley, shallots, capers and bread. My table actually discussed who would get to gnaw on the bone after we devoured the roasted marrow.
The red drum was a unique dish with a Mediterranean flare. The flaky fish was served on a bed of quinoa tabouhli, and the smoky flavor of the charred eggplant paired nicely with the creamy tzatziki.
My mouth is watering just thinking about Stanbury’s seared scallops with creamed corn, tomato relish and tomato jam. The flavors were bold and rich. Oh, how I need more of that tomato jam in my life.
Another highlight of the meal was the crispy sweetbread dish with potato puree, brown butter, capers, lemon and arugula. This is definitely a dish you don’t see often on menus in Raleigh.
Everyone was anxious to try the crispy pig head sourced from Cheshire Pork by Heritage Farms. Crispy pig head was served with field peas, a 64 degree duck egg and Persian cress. I enjoyed this custard-like egg with the crisp pieces of pork. Chef Drew is innovative and bold, ready to add his spin to the Raleigh dining scene.
The buttermilk poached chicken breast was extremely flavorful with crispy, charred edges. The chicken was served with Anson Mills polenta, collards, crispy skin and natural jus. This dish was a tribute to Southern food.
Stanbury’s menu will feature homemade pasta and gnocchi. We got a taste of the tagliatelle with blistered tomatoes, basil, pecorino and bread crumbs. This was another dish that exemplified the importance of texture in food.
The meal came to a sweet ending with passion fruit and brown butter truffles by Escazú Artisan Chocolates. Escazú and Stanbury are neighbors and I’m looking forward to seeing these entrepreneurs work together.
After a delicious meal at Stanbury, get ready to be quite amused. The owners have purchased old cookbooks from flea markets in the area. Instead of your typical check book, your bill will be presented inside a retro cookbook. Lucky us, we got a view of Dolly Parton.
Chances are you’ll have such an excellent time at Stanbury that you’ll hang out at the bar after dinner. Well, at least that’s what I did last night. Definitely order one of the seasonal cocktails. The Sanhills Smash was a refreshing cocktail concocted with bourbon, muddled peach, mint and lemon. I also tried the Blount St. Sour, a tribute to Raleigh’s local artisans. This cocktail included vodka, Slingshot Cascara tea, lemon, honey, egg white and Escazú Chocolate bitters. What a perfect night cap to end a warm summer evening.
Visit Stanbury at 938 N. Blount St. in Raleigh. The restaurant opens on Tuesday evening, September 3.