Friday, September 30, 2022

Crawford and Son

Crawford and Son in Raleigh has been on my list since I moved here a year ago. It was most recently named "Restaurant of the Year" by Raleigh Magazine, so I decided I couldn't wait much longer to check it out. I have to agree with the masses - this is perhaps the finest establishment in Raleigh. From the food, to the atmosphere, to the service, it's a 10/10. They change their menu seasonally, so that gives you at least 4 excuses each year to go. It's dim, but not too dim - very grayscale with lots of slate. It's small, but not too noisy - noise-dampening panels mostly help keep volume to a minimum. Water glasses were never less than half full. It's clear why this won such a prestigious award. I totally get the hype.

Since I'm still off the sauce, I was excited to see not one but TWO spirit-free options. I opted for the Mini Jammer, a beautifully balanced Blueberry, Ginger and Lemongrass sip. We were tempted by two appetizers so we opted for them both. The revered Manchego-Herb Biscuits need to stay on the menu permanently. 4 come in an order and they're crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, and cheesy and herbaceous as promised. They're utterly addicting and are great for breakfast the next day (if there are any left).

The Sweet Corn Risotto is sensational. The sweetness of the corn echoes the sweetness from the crab, and a light, slightly funky Parmesan Mousse rests atop. Flavors of Dill permeate the dish, bringing a nice earthiness. It's super rich and actually really great scooped up by a bite of biscuit. 

Swordfish can be hit or miss for me, but Crawford knows how to handle it. A beautiful, thick, white filet was cooked to perfection - still glistening on the inside - and sat atop a Tomato and Olive emulsion. It's served with Tabbouleh and a Cucumber and Olive Salsa. This was a really unique flavor combination - I love olives but the olive flavor almost overwhelmed the entire dish. The fish itself was great, as was the tabbouleh, but this sauce was a little strong for me.

My husband's Pork Chop was outstanding, particularly the creamy Farro that accompanied it. We think the pork was sous vide because it was super thick and cooked perfectly all the way through - how in the world could they have pulled this off otherwise? Tomatoes and Squash were nestled in the farro, and the pork had subtle flavors of Peach and Mustard. If I had known how fabulous this was going to be, I would have ordered it myself. It was a rich dish that ate light.

Would you believe that a sugar fiend such as myself was too full for dessert? Alas, my husband let me try a bite of his Dirty Chai Custard, and while I wasn't too excited by the sound of Chocolate and Chai together (I'm a weirdo, I know), I admit I snuck several bites. A moist Dark Chocolate Cake is covered with a slightly spiced Chai Custard, which read more like a light chocolate pudding, topped with crunchy Hazelnuts, Feuilletine and Whipped Cream. Like my mocktail, it was perfectly balanced and really what every pastry chef strives for. We were thoroughly impressed.

Do yourself a favor and make a reservation at Crawford and Son. I'm already seeing some changes to the menu from when we went a week ago, so if you haven't been in a while, now's the time to revisit. And for first-timers, prepare to be wowed.

Friday, September 23, 2022


Jolie strives for authentic French cuisine in Raleigh's bustling Person Street neighborhood. Nestled between hot spots like Crawford & Son, (ish) Delicatessen and Two Roosters Ice Cream, it's a really happening scene and you can't go wrong, anywhere you choose to hang. I was excited to celebrate my 35th birthday at Jolie, and for the most part, I was quite pleased. 

Next time, I'll request a table on their stunning, open air, rooftop patio. As we approached the restaurant, it became very clear that the rooftop is where you want to be. The inside was tight, though I was grateful for their noise-dampening panels, which helped keep what could have been a very loud environment relatively quiet. It's an open-kitchen concept, with a few seats at the bar, and tables down a long hallway. It reminds me a lot of my beloved Mozelle's in Winston-Salem! Intimate, almost TOO intimate. I was very excited to see a spirit-free cocktail on the menu, feautring the trendy Seedlip (a non-alcoholic spirit), Black Tea, Strawberry and Basil. It was citrusy and bitter, a nice change from the sprite-doused mocktails I'm often offered.

Do not sleep on the Baguette with Fancy Butter - this was some of the best butter I've ever had! If only the untoasted, room temperature bread had done it justice. I would have loved for the whole wheat baguette to be toasted, or ever so slightly warmed, because chewing through the crust was entirely too tough on my jaw. But I would have eaten anything if it meant getting a bite of that sweet, honey butter, topped with Sea Salt, Paprika, Sesame Seeds and Herbs. Sensational! I admit, I was pretty surprised when one piece of bread remained, with plenty of butter for it, and the dishes were removed from our table to "make room for our next courses". For $6, I think our server should have left this on the table, and even offered additional bread! But I'm willing to overlook that.

This pregnant mama has been craving all the cheese, so the French Onion Soup naturally called to me. Jolie's version is incredibly rich, with a beefy, brandy-forward broth, loads of Croutons and Thyme, Caramelized Onions (not quite enough, frankly) and Fromage Cantal, a white cheese that passes for the classic Gruyere. You can tell that the chefs put a lot of TLC into the broth, which was indeed delicious, but I was missing some of the soft, caramlized onions - the crouton to onion ratio was off for my preference. But the cheese pull...heaven.

When I read the words "truffle", "parmesan" and "gnocchi", I knew exactly what I would be ordering next. This Gnocchi is incredibly tender, definitely made in house, and sat in a stew alongside Corn, Peas, Oyster Mushrooms and Tomatoes. The dish had just a kiss of truffle flavor, but I could have used more Parmesan (I think it was hiding was in the broth). This dish, while delicious, was having a bit of an identity crisis. I wanted a pasta dish, this read more as a stew. Killer flavors, though.

My husband could not get enough of his miniature Whole Chicken, and in fact said it was the best he's ever had. It was indeed incredibly moist and perfectly seasoned, though the Mixed Greens Salad might not have been the best option as a side dish. The chicken just screamed for a starch, a potato of some sort, to accompany this comforting protein. I don't know that a starch would have made a difference though - he had tunnel vision for the bird.

Jolie changes their menu frequently so I'll be keeping my eye on what's to come. I had quite a lovely experience, and with a few tweaks, I think this place could be truly outstanding.