Food & Drink

One of Raleigh’s most anticipated restaurants, Scott Crawford’s Jolie, opens Friday

Break out the bubbly, Jolie is making its debut this weekend.

Scott Crawford’s new French bistro Jolie will open Friday, Aug. 23 after a year-long build out. The Person Street restaurant is next door to the Raleigh chef’s other establishment, Crawford & Son, a former News & Observer restaurant of the year.

For Jolie, Crawford named Raleigh native and longtime Charleston, South Carolina, chef Madison Tessener as chef de cuisine, overseeing the kitchen on a nightly basis. Tessener’s career has included stops at some of Charleston’s best restaurants, including FIG, McCrady’s Tavern and Chez Nous.

The new restaurant is named for Crawford’s daughter and inspired by a family trip to Paris and a love of intimate neighborhood bistros.

Jolie was first announced in June 2018 and at the time Crawford expected to be open by the end of the year. Construction was delayed and later derailed by a question of whether Jolie’s rooftop would be too loud for the Person Street corridor. Crawford said opening the restaurant was trying, but that in the middle of Jolie’s friends and family service Wednesday night, any bad vibes seemed to dissipate.

“I watched it happen, there was an energy in this room, a wave of joy that just washed through it,” Crawford said in an interview Thursday morning. “It hasn’t been an easy project, it’s been a year in the making. ... But there’s an energy in this space that feels amazing.”

With Jolie, Crawford aims to create a modern bistro, serving French classics to a new generation, often re-imagined through new techniques. The dining room is done up in white and gold, with a white marble bar and light flooding in from Person Street. Nearly half of the restaurant’s seating will be on a newly built rooftop, or as Jolie calls it, “Le rooftop.”

The menu features small plates of cheesy gougeres, escargot, and duck rillettes served with potato chips baked to a crisp with sheen of duck fat. On the opening menu there’s also versions of French onion soup and crab salad with melon, and larger plates like trout almondine, veal cheek bourguignon, and the bistro staple, steak frites.

The wine list is exclusively French, minus a featured glass from elsewhere, and the beer options include a collaboration with Raleigh’s Brewery Bhavana called the Jolie Saison.

Le rooftop is covered by a single circus-sized umbrella. Crawford said he can attach screens if there’s a threat of rain and heaters when there’s a chill in the air, keeping the rooftop open most of the year.

Reservations went live Thursday morning and Crawford said they booked 500 in the first 15 minutes.

Jolie will be open Tuesday through Saturday. The restaurant is now taking reservations online.

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Drew Jackson writes about restaurants and dining for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun, covering the food scene in the Triangle and North Carolina.