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Ethereal fare at Raleigh's Stanbury

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Quite simply, my experience at Stanbury was bewitching.

A Valentine’s Day weekend reservation made one month beforehand netted us, what seemed to be, the best table in the restaurant-- the back corner far away from the waiting crowd lingering towards the front door. And the dishes that were to follow? Simply enchanting.

Two libations, a stout beer and the Partly Cloudy, coerced us to ordering three dishes: Crispy Pig Head, Roasted Marrow and Seared Diver Scallops.

Lest the moniker of the dish scare you, rest assured that the Crispy Pig Head doesn’t make a literal translation onto the plate. Instead, it tasted more like pulled pork, taken from the braised pig’s head that was minced, breaded and fried into a crispy, golden croquette. The croquette rested over a sea of beluga lentils, crowned by a delicate duck egg and feathered by arugula sprigs on top. Despite its porcine luxuriousness, the dish exhibited almost a gossamer quality in execution and preparation. I was almost punch-drunk in giddiness after dish one.

And the Roasted Marrow that followed? No less divine--in fact, it was completely unctuous and a tad carnivorous. I couldn’t help but feel like a well-mannered nethanderthal as I scraped through the duo stratas of bone with a dainty silver spoon. And while spreading the marrow innards onto the toasted baguette rounds like an unctuous jam, I almost felt a tinge of guilt from enjoying the utterly indulgent, bovine dish. The caper, parsley and shallot salad on the side, a springy foil to the unctuousness, helped only a bit to assuage my guilt.

And yet, despite wrought with “gastronomical guilt”, my dining partner and I soldiered onto the Seared Diver Scallops. A citric gastrique paired nicely with the scallops, tucked under a smattering of parsnip and brussel sprouts, seared beautifully with a nice crust on the exterior and a buttery texture on the inside.

Given its ties to The Admiral in Asheville (a much-lauded restaurant that’s been highlighted in The New York Times), my exemplary experience at Stanbury wasn’t much of a surprise. In fact, it shares some of the same understated vibe with a clear focus on cultivating creative and exciting dishes (some of the menu at Stanbury also reminded me of the acclaimed Animal restaurant in Los Angeles).

Service at Stanbury was top-notch, attentive and yet not obsequious. At one point, our server even noticed that I had dropped a piece of baguette on the floor by accident and brought over two replacements without a request.

Given the quality of the dishes at Stanbury, the meal for two didn’t come cheap at almost $80 for two (three dishes, three libations and a dessert). But, for the way the dinner worked over my tastebuds like epicureal witchcraft, the pricetag was well worth it.


938 North Blount Street

Raleigh, NC 27604