While the Triangle has an exciting and delicious food scene, there are few restaurants that can really offer something you can’t get anywhere else. Stanbury is one of those restaurants. With a menu full off high quality, unique dishes, and a cozy atmosphere, Stanbury really sets itself apart from other restaurants in the area. Last week I got the opportunity to talk to one of the owners, Joseph Jeffers, about the inspiration behind the popular restaurant.
Surprisingly, Joseph and his brother, fellow owner, Will Jeffers had never worked in the serve industry before. Opening a restaurant was simply something the brothers talked about from time to time. Lucky for us, Will happened to be in the right place at the right time. After attending the last brunch at Market, the former restaurant in Stanbury’s space, he decided it was time to take the jump, and Joseph agreed. They partnered with fellow college classmate and chef Drew Maykuth to make Stanbury what it is today. Joseph says the reason the restaurant is what it is today is because each partner brings a different skill set to the business. Will is skilled with the business contracts and operations side, Drew brings the amazing food to the table, and Joseph is good with people. One front of the house manager said her favorite part of the restaurant is the atmosphere that Joseph creates.
A restaurant serving such unique and high quality food might be expected to have somewhat of a stuffy atmosphere, but Joseph has done a great job in creating a very cozy and causal vibe. The menu itself was written by Drew and inspired not only by chefs he has worked with, but also his extensive travels through Central and South America. Drew’s sous chef describes his cooking as comfortable & refined. The food is also inspired by the three partners love of farms and farmers. Joseph worked on farms for a long time before opening Stanbury, and all three men went to a small farming school. To them, it only made sense to open a restaurant centered around food grown by local farmers.
Speaking of food, I’m sure you want to know how this concept translates to the menu, which changes daily. When I went to eat dinner at Stanbury, I was accompanied by a much more adventurous friend. I’m certainly glad this was the case, because for someone who hasn’t eaten too many out of the box things, the menu can be a little bit scary. But after eating the food, I can assure you it’s not nearly as scary as it seems. My friend and I ordered a bunch of small plates to share, and it ended up being the perfect way to enjoy as much of the menu as possible. We started with the Octopus Ceviche, which was served with a small side of tortilla chips. Having never had octopus before, I was very impressed with the texture and the lack of any sort of fishy taste. We also tried the Bread and Butter, which was a nice little snack on the side.
Next we tried the Crispy Pig Head ($12), which was made of meat taken from the pig’s face, made into a patty and fried. It was served on top of a bed of lentils and topped with a poached egg, arugula, mustard, and crème fraiche. I think this was my favorite dish that we tried. The meat was incredibly juicy and tender and the poached egg on top added a nice creaminess to every bite. Next we went with the famous Roasted Marrow ($13). Again, I had never had marrow before so I didn’t really know what to expect. The dish showed up with two huge pieces of bone filled with marrow, a dish of sea salt, a side of parsley with capers, and a few pieces of toast. Our serve instructed us to scoop out the marrow and spread it on the bread, and then top it with salt and salad. I did as I was told and was certainly not disappointed in the outcome. It is definitely fatty, but once you spread the marrow on bread it’s almost like butter and makes for an amazing savory experience.
Our final small plate was the Gnocchi ($13), which had a beef heart Bolognese, basil, pecorino, and breadcrumbs. This was another dish that sounds scary because of the whole beef heart thing, but it was another one of my favorites. The gnocchi tasted incredibly homemade and the beef heart was more of a crispy, salty ground beef. The breadcrumbs also gave the dish a nice crunch to compliment the soft, doughy gnocchi. Our final dish was the House Made Tagliatelle ($17), which had oyster mushrooms, rapini, truffle oil, cream, and breadcrumbs. I will say this was considered a large plate and I didn’t feel it was much bigger than our small plates, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Like the Gnocchi, the Tagliatelle tasted very fresh and homemade. Even though there was cream in the dish I was pleasantly surprised that it was a very light sauce and not overwhelmingly heavy like many cream-based sauces are.
Overall I think the food at Stanbury is worth the hype. Every dish felt fresh, high quality, and unique. The atmosphere is laid back and cozy and the staff seems to really care about the food they are serving. While the menu can look a little bit daunting, I would encourage any picky or timid foodies to give it a try. I’ll definitely be back to this Raleigh staple to see what else they cook up.
Melissa Guido is currently a dietetic intern in the Triangle area. She studied nutrition at NC State and Meredith College. Her favorite part about nutrition is showing people that healthy food can be exciting and delicious. Melissa loves traveling and learning about how food fits into different cultures. In her free time she loves trying new restaurants, cooking, and obsessing over her dogs. Follow her on Instagram @made2order and at www.madeorder.wordpress.com.