When you think neighborhood restaurant, it’s rare when you get a cozy and gourmet spot like the Stanbury. Located in the old space previously housing Market Restaurant, the Stanbury is a shining star in the Mordecai neighborhood. Odd to find this level of quality in a restaurant on a quiet, mostly residential street. Is it perfect? No, but it does a lot of things well and given it’s only been open for several weeks, expect more and better from this sexy little spot!
While this area is a bit beaten-down, the Stanbury brings a lot of warmth and style to its small space. Extensive renovations inside have turned the previous simple interior into a sultry, romantic dining room that’s perfect for a date or small party. There’s a large roll-up garage door on the left-hand side that opens up to a large patio with two four-tops. The bar has been gussied up with a nice display of bottles which is great since the Stanbury takes its cocktails pretty seriously. In back, there’s a red, high-back padded corner for a hint of color in the otherwise organic and muted color scheme. And hints of metal and woodwork show there was a lot of thought put into the interior decor.
For my visit I grabbed a seat at the bar and there’s a short list of eight cocktails along with beer and wine. My Semi-cloudy cocktail is a play on the traditional Dark and Stormy and it makes for a good start with its lightweight spiciness, perfect for a warm summer’s night. My friend shows up and we get seated in the back corner but fair warning, the space is pretty darn loud. I expect the Stanbury to be pretty busy so high conversation volumes will probably be the norm. The menus are on paper and seasonal, I’m pretty sure there won’t be a set menu here. Lots of interesting meats like beef hearts, sweet meats and marrow, pretty locavore in style. Small plates are $7 – $11 while the large mains are $17 – $29, sorta pricey. I go with a pork belly app along with a swordfish-chorizo large plate.
The crowd here is noisy and probably locals along with foodies in the know. This place hasn’t been open long at all but it’s already busy! My pork belly app is 4 or 5 thick-ish slices with braised sweet potato and prune. The pork belly was seared nicely for a crisp skin that opened up into the rich fattiness underneath, a very nice start. My main wasn’t quite as delicious. The swordfish was lightly coated, pan-fried and came on top of some veggies and along with some clams and chorizo bits. The whole dish was pretty salty to me but not only from the chorizo, it was also the coating. There were also two pieces of crostini on the side so the entree seemed over-complicated to me. I ate most of it but the saltiness eventually got to me!
In the end, the Stanbury does a great job bringing interesting meats and seafood prepared with thought, care and flavor. Love the space, love the bar and cocktails, I have to hope that the food will become more consistent over time but they’re off to a good start. Probably the best place to compare it to would be maybe the Kitchen out in Chapel Hill or maybe the old Fraziers in Raleigh. Check em out soon if you want something different in downtown Raleigh, where else are you going to go for some delicious bone marrow?!