Today, business partners John Holmes and Chef Scott Crawford open the doors to Standard Foods – a 5,500 square foot restaurant and grocery in downtown Raleigh, NC (209 East Franklin Street; 919-307-4652; www.standard-foods.com; @_standardfoods). Their mission is unmistakable – to reintroduce the food, farmers and artisanal production methods of the region.
“The South’s rich, agrarian history has been lost in the push for mass-production and cheaper, faster ways to bring products to the market. But there is a small, burgeoning group of farmers and artisans who have gone back to the old methods – and those who never left. We’re seeking them out, to give them a place to highlight their life’s work,” explained Holmes, a Raleigh native and developer – with a background in architecture, who’s also responsible for revitalizing downtown Raleigh’s indie-curated Person Street Plaza development where Standard Foods is located.
At the heart of Standard Foods is obsessive sourcing. Local farms, fisherman and artisans were selected for their sustainable practices and overall mission in servicing our food community with healthy, real food. The grocery and restaurant will reflect what’s in season in North Carolina – pastured meats in the whole animal butcher shop, North Carolina seafood, locally grown and milled corn and wheat, organic produce from the neighboring urban farm, and wild flowers – and tap into the greater South when necessary, stocking shelves with Georgia Olive Farm’s cold-pressed oil and farmstead cheeses found throughout the South. Haw River Ranch’s pastured eggs – carefully selected for their non-GMO feed – and Ran-Lew’s unhomogenized milk, cream and buttermilk, reaffirm Standard Foods’ commitment to sourcing with a certain standard.
Standard Foods’ grocery and adjacent 80-seat restaurant share a light-filled corner in Raleigh’s downtown overlooking Raleigh City Farm, and a well-designed space with hewn wood tables crafted by Arrowhead and accents of marble, slate and leather. There is little separation between the grocery and restaurant, both literally and figuratively. The whole animal butcher program at Standard Foods lends to an extensive charcuterie selection for both the retail and restaurant, making way for cured meats and sausages to be served daily, with house pickles. The Butcher Board offers house-cured lardo, duck neck rillettes, corned beef tongue, rabbit terrine and more. Meat and fish preparations in the restaurant will be dictated by the butcher and fishmongers’ available cuts, with full-utilization as the guiding principle. For instance, duck porridge is enriched with heart gravy and a poached duck egg while beef marrow creates silky potatoes with fermented pepper relish.
Chef Scott Crawford’s cooking – in the restaurant and in the prepared foods selection – is natural and grounded, not fussy. It evokes home cooking of generations’ past, reimagined from the viewpoint of a 5-star chef. Simplicity and integrity of the ingredient are paramount at Standard Foods, as are beloved Southern preparations and traditions. Crawford and his team skillfully layer flavors and play with old and new techniques. Though Crawford’s dishes at Standard Foods appear simple, they are complex and polished, with a fresh sensibility toward Southern food.
Standard Foods’ opening menu celebrates fall, especially Crawford’s velvety Apple Soup with smoked brown butter, blistered peanuts and fried rosemary and his Oyster Stew made from shellfish cream and melted root vegetables, served with njuda-topped oysters. Chicken & Dumplings is remade, with sweet potatoes and roasted Chatham Rabbit. Pickled butter beans and crispy roasted fingerlings compose a Southern “cassoulet” with Spruill Brother’s heritage pork – braised, smoked or seared. Other Large dishes include seared flounder with confit’d shrimp, brightened from a nage made from pickled tomatoes. On the dinner menu, vegetable side dishes command attention. From cauliflower with NC parmesan and pecans to Hot and Sour Eggplant with fried garlic, and stewed Lobster Mushrooms with rye and sage, Crawford’s vegetables stand alone, as expected in a Southern kitchen.
At lunch, many of the same dishes will be offered, in addition to sandwiches. Corned Pork Shoulder with sour cabbage on sourdough and the Standard Burger with fermented special sauce are prime examples of the butchers’ influence. A Smoked Trout Tartine on Boulted Rye and a grilled cheese with local cheddar and foraged mushrooms round out the offering and take advantage of the well-stocked grocery.
Pastry Chef Krystle Swenson’s desserts follow Crawfords’ enlightened style. Apple Granita with rosemary semi freddo – an irresistibly refreshing, modern rendition of apple pie – and Caramel Rum Cake with goat cheese, muscadine and crème fraiche sherbet, to name a few.
In the grocery, a selection of prepared foods will be available: soups, salads, sandwiches and composed meat and fish dishes – including boxed lunches and Suckling Pig – for take-out.
The sleek 14-seat slate and marble bar is the setting for airy Pork Rinds with Fermented Onion Mayo, Crab Deviled Eggs with puffed grains and a Bacon Ice Cream Sandwich, alongside craft cocktails, NC beer, and a wine list, designed by Master Sommelier Fred Dexheimer. 17 wines are available by the glass ($9-$13), and 50 wines under $50 were chosen to pair specifically with Crawford’s bright, clean flavors – and to offer ample affordable options.
Together, Holmes and Crawford have assembled a gifted team. Chef de Cuisine Bret Edlund and Pastry Chef Krystle Swenson – both formerly of Chicago’s award-winning Blackbird – will be working hand-in-hand with Standard Foods’ butcher, Steven Goff, barkeep, Thomas Morrison, General Manager Anna Wheeler and farm liason, Deborah Brown.
Standard Foods Snacks ($6-$8), Lunch ($8-$15), Dinner ($10-$28) and Desserts ($6-$10) can be shared.
Standard Foods’ restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday for dinner; the bar will be open until 2am. The restaurant will be open for lunch soon, and the bar will serve snacks between 3pm and 5pm. The grocery will be open soon as well, 7 days a week: Monday thru Friday, 10am to 7pm; Saturday 9am to 7pm; Sunday 11am to 6pm. Soon, Standard Foods will be open for Sunday brunch. Please contact 919-307-4652 for reservations.