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mandolin restaurant

By 7/14/2014

when sean fowler opened mandolin restaurant just around the corner from our house, we couldn't have been more stoked about having a neighborhood treasure within walking distance.

perfect for special occasions, a lazy sunday brunch, or an impromptu evening out, mandolin has been an almost weekly staple for us since opening in raleigh in two years ago.

with offerings as delicious as they are photo-worthy, the food is a celebration of fresh farm-to-table ingredients combined sean's extensive training in jackson hole and the esteemed fearrington house restaurant in chapel hill.

think party in the front, business in the back -- mandolin accomplishes what every fine dining restaurant aims to, but manages to keep it a casual and inviting destination that could easily tempt you on an evening stroll to pull up an outside table for dessert and a glass of wine. it's not surprising that i tend to end up overserved there (walking home is a plus!) -- the cocktails are too tasty to turn down, and the wine list is impressive. lizzie, sean's wife adds to the southern charm of the restaurant with her gorgeous flowers, inside and out.

some furbish friends and i spent a lovely evening with sean and lizzie last week, trying some of the stars of their seasonal menu.  see below the pics for a q & a with sean.

now tell me this doesn't make your mouth water...

photography by gary meyer

years in business

number of employees

where do you find inspiration
farms, cookbooks, markets, nature

what gets you most excited about getting out of bed in the morning
new dishes, new ingredients, the chance to get better

the culture of your business in three words
fresh, friendly, gracious

what's your 5 year plan
stay tuned

favorite place to travel
mountains (any)​

what scares you the most - business or otherwise

mentor in your field
my father

bootstrapping vs. funding

three most important characteristics of an entrepreneur
hard-working, undaunted, adaptable

what's your current state of mind 

which words or phrases do you most often overuse?

work hard or work smart?
work hard

why raleigh?
it's home

your biggest extravagance
kitchen equipment, flowers

one piece of advice you'd give to a prospective entrepreneur
plan, plan, and plan, before you start writing checks

what one word do you want to own in the minds of your customers, employees and partners? authentic

thoughts on failure? 
failure is a necessary part of success

favorite spots in raleigh
el rey del taco taqueria, mandolin garden, waraji


  1. Totally random question and unrelated to food...but where did Leah get that adorable striped dress with scroll pattern on your instagram pics? I need.

  2. This place is super nice, also love the writing style!

  3. The dress is from Anthropologie. I do not see it online but I purchased it at our local store this past week.

  4. What pretty pics! All of this is gorgeous!

  5. Wow, raleigh seems really great. I must visit!!
    Also, I just love your hair!! ;)

  6. Can't wait to try this on our next visit.

  7. This looks like such a fun, not to mention delicious!, place to eat and hang out.

    x Lily

  8. Obsessed with Mandolin. I'm also thrilled that an amazing restaurant finally located in that building. It was so sad when it was a revolving door for a few years there.

  9. The food looks really tasty and the photos are very cool.


  10. I second that, obsessed

  11. Very cool place! I must visit it soon, everything looks great!
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  12. So very glad a good restaurant in that spot!

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  17. This place is super nice, also love the writing style!

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