Sean Fowler experienced a long culinary journey before opening Mandolin, his debut restaurant in Raleigh back in 2011. He attended culinary school in Colorado and refined his skills at some of America’s best fine dining establishments such as the award-winning Le Bernardin in NYC and Fearrington House in near-by Pittsboro over in Chatham County. Executive Chef/Owner Fowler is a Raleigh native, and the menu at Mandolin reflects his love for his home state of North Carolina. The unique, Southern-inspired dishes are made with seasonal meats, fish, produce, and products from NC farms whenever possible.

Over the past ten plus years, Chef Sean Fowler has fine-tuned his cooking and his concept for Mandolin. Like the City of Oaks itself, Mandolin is Southern at its roots but draws influences from around the world. The food is fresh and local, the music is American, and the restaurant is home to a family with a passion for serving world-class food, wine, and spirits in a soulful, comforting atmosphere. This locally owned and operated unique culinary staple is located in a historic well-established part of the city, just on the outskirts of Downtown Raleigh.

The Drinks

There are so many amazing beverage options at Mandolin that ordering can be a challenge! The wine list features about 240 selections, many of which are small wine producers with limited production. Even the most avid oenophile will likely find something on this list that he or she hasn’t had before!

If wine isn’t your thing, Mandolin features a small beer selection and a seasonal cocktail list, along with traditional favorites. I recommend the Cobra Kai, which is made with Leblon Cachaça, a Brazilian rum, mixed with turmeric honey, fresh lemon juice, a muddled blood orange, and topped with soda.

The Food

Mandolin is a proud participant in the farm to table movement, which aims to reduce the number of steps it takes for food to get from the farm to your table. The menu changes frequently with foods that are in season, but there are several popular staples that you will find on the menu year round. One such item is the Panzanella Salad, which is made with beets, caper berries, roasted tomatoes, house-made pickles, and topped with herbs, smoked farmer’s cheese, and croutons.

Another popular menu item that you’ll always find on the menu is Chicken & Waffles, which comes with braised greens, sauteed mushrooms, and topped with an intriguing bacon-mushroom emulsion. It’s not on the menu, but a popular item amongst regulars is the bone-in ribeye, made with local, grass-fed beef and hickory smoked. Ask your server about it!

” Mandolin uses the highest quality local ingredients to create seasonal menus that represent a fresh take on Southern food. We source our meats, poultry, seafood, produce, and specialty products from a bounty of North Carolina farmers, ranchers, and artisans whenever possible. We keep our cooking and our ambiance close to home. At Mandolin, seasonality, sustainability, and buying local are culinary and business philosophies based on our core values of preparing the best food, using the best ingredients, supporting our local economy, and conserving our natural resources…


The Desserts

You simply cannot leave Mandolin without trying one of its fabulous desserts! Get dinner AND a show when you order the Videri Chocolate Soufflé. The soufflé, chocolate sauce, and cream are served separately. Then, the server carefully spoons a hole in the top of soufflé and adds the chocolate sauce. You can see the dessert gently rise! Then, it is topped with cream. Voila!  This dessert is rich, without being overbearing, It’s the perfect way to end a meal!

A Unique & Always Happening Local Spot

Mandolin is perfect for a date night, or a relaxing evening with friends/family. There’s a classy, yet cozy feel about the place! Mandolin features $1 NC oysters every Sunday – Thursday from 5:30 – 6:30 pm. You can also enjoy wine tastings at the bar every Wednesday. Are you a barfly? Enjoy small bar plates at the bar every Sunday – Thursday. Choose two items and create your own plate for just $15.

Chef Sean Fowler’s Mandolin is one of the best local spots in all of Raleigh for those who are looking for a unique culinary experience and the freshest in-season ingredients. It’s located in the Hayes Barton neighborhood, just a stone throw’s away from Cameron Village and Five Points. We hope you pay a visit to this essential Raleigh restaurant and support our local farmers as well!

” Like Fowler and the City of Oaks itself, Mandolin is Southern at its roots, and draws influences from around the world. Nestled in the historic Hayes Barton neighborhood, Mandolin has been named one of the “Triangle’s Best Restaurants” since it opened in 2011 and is now one of the premier destinations for celebrating North Carolina cuisine. Mandolin is known for its hyper seasonal menu, whole animal butchery, wood fired grill, and food and flowers grown on the chef’s Mandolin Farm…


About Mandolin & Executive Chef/Owner Sean Fowler

Raleigh native, Sean Fowler, returned home to open Mandolin, his debut restaurant. In fact, he has returned to his boyhood stomping grounds on the corner of Fairview and Oberlin Road. He remembers bellying up to the old Johnson’s Pharmacy lunch counter and washing down a grilled cheese with an ice cold limeade, after a long afternoon of riding bikes.

A quarter-century later, Sean’s culinary journey has come full circle, landing him back at the very same location. Years after Johnson’s Pharmacy closed its doors, Sean’s love for the fresh Southern foods that filled his childhood home, led him to train in some of the country’s top restaurants. Most recently, Sean was a Chef at the AAA 5 Diamond, Fearrington House, in Pittsboro, NC.

So what are some of your favorite items from Mandolin’s menu? Please be sure to hit us up on Twitter @919BlogNC or visit our Facebook page at and let us know! We would love to hear from ya.

This post was created in collaboration with the Downtown Raleigh Blog editorial team and 919 Blog contributor Amy Howard for exclusive digital publication via TBN