Admittedly, I walk into the doors of Raleigh’s Crawford and Son with guarded skepticism. I walk out of the restaurant ninety minutes later like I had one of the best meals in Raleigh that I’ve had in a long time.
The industrial chic, boxy confines of the eatery located in the Historic Oakwood quarters doesn’t exactly scream “welcome”, even behind its bespoke wood doors. The monochromatic slate grey, the concrete floors and the brick wall combined–well, the minimalism feels slightly uninviting.
But, the minimalism, intentionally or unintentionally, works to Crawford and Son’s benefit because it drives an unencumbered attention to its food. The fare at this downtown Raleigh restaurant is simply beguiling, executed with keen meditation by its Executive Chef and four-time James Beard Award-nominee Scott Crawford.
Those not on a keto diet would be wise not to skip out on a tray of warm malted wheat rolls ($6) . The bouncy, soft rolls arrive to the table with a luminous top sheen that beg to be slathered in the hickory butter from the ramekin that it comes with.
As a starter, the seared octopus ($16) at Crawford and Son is top-notch. It does the cephalopod justice. The tender octopus comes crested above a pool of chorizo and charred lime sauce, under a nest of shaved fennel, and it soaks up every bit of the tangy, smoky flavor.
The chicken confit is easily as good or better. With a browned, crisped skin on the outside, the meat inside is juicy and flavorful, tenderized enough to dissolve on the tongue. I’m unsure if it’s been preserved for days or only hours, but it’s no matter, because it’s delicious. Matched with creamy potatoes and peppered with oyster mushrooms in chicken au jus, it’s an immensely satisfying, rich dish and one that can justify its $27 price tag.
The pork cheeks ($28) at Crawford and Son might have you pay silent homage to the abattoir of where the pig was sacrificed. Unctuous bits of braised pork are complemented by buttery cheddar grits and peppers that make this comfort dish ethereal. It’s indeed a bit of Southern comfort beset in an otherwise urban ambiance, only the dish is dolled up a bit with an Akoya pearl necklace and a pair of leopard print kitten heels.
The service at Crawford and Son from my experience leans on the haughty side, though it’s accommodating and pleasant enough throughout the course of the meal. The only downside at the end of the night is a calamitous, intoxicated table of four seated directly next to us in extremely close proximity boisterously retelling a tale of an Uber ride gone haywire. Sometimes, you just know when it’s time to make a beeline for the exit.
CRAWFORD AND SON | 618 N. Person Street Raleigh, NC 27604 | 919.307.4647