Bon Appetit has named The Lakewood, the restaurant from acclaimed baker Phoebe Lawless, one of its 50 Best New Restaurants in the country, barely two days after it closed.
Lawless, a James Beard-nominated baker, surprised the community Friday when she announced she would close The Lakewood and Scratch Baking. Both, which share the same building, closed Sunday.
Tuesday, Bon Appetit released its list of 50 hot new restaurants in the country — the “eclectic, inspiring, and very delicious nominees.”
The Lakewood is one of two North Carolina restaurants on the list and one of a handful representing the Southeast. Cornelius restaurant Hello, Sailor also is on the Top 50 list. It’s the second restaurant from Joe and Katy Kindred of Kindred Restaurant in Davidson, opening late last year on Lake Norman.
The list from Bon Appetit editor Andrew Knowlton will be narrowed down to 10. That list will be released Aug. 14.
Last year, Raleigh’s Brewery Bhavana was named to the Top 10 list.
Lawless could not be reached for comment Friday nor Tuesday.
Knowlton, Bon Appetit editor-at-large, has compiled the best new restaurants list for the magazine for the last eight years, scouring the country for the tastiest bites and beautiful rooms not known by enough people. He said The Lakewood’s closing came as a surprise after fact checking and that it would have been removed had they known.
Knowlton said that unexpected closures have happened in the past, but they’re usually caught before publication.
“The truth is good restaurants go out of business a lot, for various reasons, personal reasons, it’s a tough business,” Knowlton said. “I had a great time (at The Lakewood), a great meal....I liked it and always go with my gut.”
Friday, messages appeared on the social media pages for Lawless’ establishments: “It’s with great sadness that I let you know that this Sunday will be our last day open,” she wrote on the bakery’s Instagram page.
“I am forever grateful for all of your support, and for the truly special group of people who chose to get up everyday and come work for me. I am so proud to have been part of this great little food town, and I will miss it dearly. If you have the time, come by this week end for one last slice.”
A similar message appeared on The Lakewood’s Instagram page, adding, “We have felt so fortunate to come to work everyday in this gorgeous space, with these talented, dedicated, and fantastic people who so much love what they do.”
The Lakewood, Lawless’ full-service restaurant, opened in May last year in the former Davis Baking Co. building, renovating it into a stunning mid-century dining room with large glass windows and a rooftop patio. In a review last fall, News & Observer dining critic Greg Cox gushed over Lawless’ panache with everything flaky and sweet.
Lawless opened “Baby Scratch,” a second location, in the fall. It initially was a second location to the original downtown Durham cafe, where she became famous for her pies and sweets.
That location closed earlier this year, consolidating Lawless’ operations in Lakewood. The original cafe and bakery was part of the class of restaurants that over the last decade established downtown Durham as one of the South’s most delicious city blocks. In closing that location, Lawless wrote a moving essay on her journey from selling pies at the Durham farmer’s market to owning three home-grown businesses.
“What started out as a simple pie shop with coffee has turned into a bustling breakfast and lunch café,” Lawless wrote in January. “The foundations for our wholesale program began there, and the seeds for what is now Baby Scratch and The Lakewood were conceived there. It became more than I ever thought it could be.”
Lawless is an award-winning baker and has been a James Beard Award semifinalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef in 2013 and 2014. She was a semifinalist for Outstanding Baker in 2015, 2016 and 2017. She spent nearly a decade working for James Beard-winning pastry chef Karen Barker at the beloved and now closed Magnolia Grill in Durham.
As for Hello, Sailor, the Bon Appetit list is just the latest recognition for the restaurant. Last week, the influential Eater website released its annual list of the best new restaurants in the country. Dining critic, Bill Addison included Hello, Sailor on his list of the 18 best new restaurants in the country. The restaurant also has gotten high marks from GQ and Garden & Gun magazines. In the June/July issue of Charleston-based Garden & Gun, writer John T. Edge recently reviewed Hello, Sailor, calling the hush puppies with yuzu-honey butter the best he’s ever eaten.