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Crawford and Son

You must eat the warm malted wheat rolls before you die! And everything else on Chef Scott Crawford's menu
I had dinner at Crawford and Son late last year in the company of two friends whom I’d call “foodies” (but not food snobs – they enjoy their meals and know how to have a very good time). One of them, Molly who worked on the West Coast, exclaimed after we’d finished our entrees (including out-of-this-world, melt-in-your-mouth braised beef cheeks), “This is one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten in North Carolina – if not San Francisco!”

Alice Waters may call the Bay Area the epicenter of the “delicious revolution,” but thanks to top chef Scott Crawford, Tar Heels don’t need to compare our food scene to the City of Love any more. Crawford is one of the most talented chefs in any U.S. restaurant kitchen today, having garnered five semifinalist nods from the prestigious James Beard Foundation, among other accolades. To those of us who had eaten at Crawford and Son, it came as no surprise that in January the Raleigh News & Observer named it this year’s best restaurant.

Enough of the bona fides. From the moment I walked in the front doors, I was transported — to Brooklyn, I thought at first, given the exposed brick walls, sleek bar, scruffy bartender, and even the requisite gay couple sipping drinks. But there’s no hipster attitude: this is the new Raleigh. Friendly, Informal. Kind. In fact, many of Crawford’s staff followed him from his last venture, which shows that the loyalty flows both ways.

And the food? I look back on the menu I marked up and see a blizzard of checks and asterisks. The kale salad with dates, hazelnuts and manchego scored three checks out of three. So, too, the buttered clams, the local flounder (with “melted cauliflower”) and, again, those beef cheeks (served with a mushroom ragout and white cheddar grits). Next to the yellowtail crudo, I wrote: “Amazing. The best ever”—and I’m not a guy given to superlatives. And then there is Crawford’s pièce de résistance —warm malted wheat rolls. “Glistening,” I scribbled in the margin. I can still taste them. And so can you, because Crawford told me, “My guests would kill me if I changed the wheat rolls. They’ll never leave.”

One last word: I don’t usually choose where I eat based on the chef’s personal life. But I’ve gotten to know Scott Crawford over the past two years, starting with his powerful disclosure in the local paper about his previous addiction to drugs and alcohol. Sober for 14 years now, Crawford recently founded a local chapter of Ben’s Friends, a non-profit focused on helping people who work in the restaurant industry with addiction issues. Talk about giving back to his community and ours.

Kudos to Crawford and Son. And to Chef Scott Crawford, too. They’re both tops in my book and I hope will be in yours, too.

618 N Person St, Raleigh, NC 27604, USA
+1 919-307-4647
Tue - Sat 5pm - 10pm