Mandolin – named one of the “Triangle’s Best Restaurants” since it opened in 2011 – is helmed by Raleigh, NC native, Chef Sean Fowler. Nestled in the historic Hayes Barton neighborhood, Mandolin represents a homecoming for Fowler, and now one of the premier destinations for celebrating North Carolina cuisine. Like the City of Oaks itself, Mandolin is Southern at its roots, and draws influences from around the world. Open for dinner and brunch, Mandolin is known for its hyper seasonal menu, whole animal butchery, wood fired grill, and food and flowers grown on the chef’s 13-acre Mandolin Farm.
As a child of a restaurateur, Sean developed an early love for made-from-scratch meals and cooking with high quality, seasonal ingredients. While tending his family’s garden, licking spoons in his grandmothers’ kitchens, and hunting and fishing in the fields and streams of the Southeast with his father, he learned the bounty that North Carolina’s farms and waters provide, and their deep connection to the community.
After attending culinary school at Johnson & Wales in Colorado, Fowler honed his skills at the legendary 3 Michelin Star Le Bernardin in New York City, and then as Executive Chef at AAA, 5 Diamond Fearrington House Restaurant in Pittsboro, NC – both of whom put a premium on celebrating ingredients at their peak. In 2011, Fowler returned home to debut his own restaurant, where classic technique and North Carolina’s freshest ingredients would be at the center of the plate, in a more relaxed setting. Mandolin – set in the former Johnson’s Pharmacy location, where Fowler enjoyed many “ice-cold limeaids and grilled cheeses” as a young boy – was designed with a contemporary farmhouse aesthetic, where mason jars of preserved fruits and vegetables separate the plush dining room from the cozy bar.
Fowler and his team work closely with a host of North Carolina farmers, ranchers, artisans, and fishermen to secure the best ingredients available, and tap into Mandolin Farm for rare ingredients and those they just can’t get enough of. Look for deep yellow hued eggs from Fowler’s hens on Saturday and Sunday’s brunch menu, alongside scratch biscuits and on Fowlers signature “Pork Madame,” featuring NC pulled pork, sourdough, gruyere and a poached egg. Greenhouse tomatoes appear in everything from panzanella salads in the summertime to roasted tomato tarts in wintertime. And there’s a long list of ingredients Fowler loves, like espelette, which provides the distinctive sweet pepper flavor in his housemade cocktail sauce for shucked Chadwick Creek Oysters, available Sunday through Thursday for $1.
Order as the locals do from the wood fired grill – Bone-in Ribeye with X potatoes or a Lady Edison Pork Chop with red peas and okra. Or from the signature dishes – Oysters Mandolin with pork belly and collards, housemade Charcuterie, Joyce Farms Chicken & Dumplings with Herbed Mushroom Gravy and Drop Biscuits, and their Videri Chocolate Souffle. And look for seasonal offerings to change often, including house-made pastas and risottos made with Carolina Gold Rice, duck and pheasant when in season, and fish exclusively from NC’s coast.
Whether dining for a special occasion, indulging in a wine-paired meal thanks to Mandolin’s Wine Spectator awarded wine list, gathering for a group dinner in the private dining room, brunch on the sun-drenched patio or stopping into the bar for a small plate and craft cocktails, Mandolin combines the comfort of a neighborhood restaurant with the quality and elegance of a dining destination.