Whiskey Kitchen

Restaurant Spotlight:
Whiskey Kitchen in Virginia Beach 

Kevin Rowell had left the restaurant business after 30-plus years working in the industry: on the line, managing and even investing in them.

Driving home one day, he eyed an empty storefront on General Booth Boulevard.

Later that day, he told his wife, Delynda Woods, that they “were getting back into the business,” Rowell said.

Applying years of experience accumulated at several popular restaurants up and down the East Coast, Rowell and Woods opened The Circa 2014 Whiskey Kitchen, simply known as “Whiskey Kitchen.” I’d heard good things about it since it opened, so I was excited about finally visiting the spot.

I chatted with Rowell and two of his managers, Brittany Spencer and Michelle Hobson, about Whiskey Kitchen – the idea behind it, the restaurant’s goals, and menu selection.

Rowell wanted a place where folks could come in, kick back and have a drink. One of WK’s bartenders used to work with Rowell at another restaurant. When he found out about Whiskey Kitchen, he jumped to join the team – a testament to Rowell’s commitment to quality and how he treats his people.

Something else about the folks at Whiskey Kitchen I appreciate is their commitment to the farm-to-table movement. They don’t freeze the meat they use in-shop, and if they can, they’ll source it locally. That goes for their produce, too.

When my wife, Shelby, and I pulled up to the place, I was immediately impressed with its construction. The sign out front is solid and bold, and the tall windows lining the building glowed from the warm lighting radiating out from the inside.

The dining area is open, and a full bar is to the left. Televisions dot the walls near the high ceilings. Booths, long tables, and standard seating are available. We chose to sit near the kitchen in a booth raised high off the floor with built-in footing. It was different and interesting and allowed us to see what was going on.

Our server, Kat, greeted us immediately, and we asked her a few questions about the food menu and, of course, the beer selections.

There are over 20 taps serving local and regional brews, including Young Veterans Brewing Co.’s Jet Noise. From my experience, that stuff goes quick whenever it’s tapped anywhere; it was a treat to see it there.

Another favorite of mine, Hardywood’s The Great Return, was available on draft, as were brews from Beach Brewing Co., Smartmouth, and O’Connor Brewing Co. Spicy seasonal crafts were also showcased on “rotating” taps.

The bottle selection was solid, too – featuring local ciders all the way to one of Shelby’s favorites, Verhaeghe Duchesse de Bourgogne from Belgium.

The place is called Whiskey Kitchen, so you’ll also find a wide assortment of whiskeys and bourbons available.

Lucky for us, we were there during happy hour, when all drafts, bottles and cans are $2 off. WK’s happy hour runs seven days a week, and a tap take over goes down every Tuesday, save for December to accommodate the holidays.

The food menu features pub standards and items mimicking the crowd that frequents Whiskey Kitchen – blue, grey and white collar. Burgers, pizza, ribs, chimichurri steak, and seafood are all offered. There’s something for everyone.

We started with the Cauliflower Buffalo Bites, and I was a little surprised at how much I liked them. The battered and fried cauliflower was coated in a tangy Buffalo sauce, and the plate came with cucumber discs instead of celery sticks. The cucumber was much more refreshing than celery, and the blue cheese and ranch dipping sauces complemented the bites well.

Shelby ordered the Whiskey Burger, which is topped with onion straws (which I love), house-made barbecue sauce, bacon, cheddar, lettuce, and tomato. The patty was cooked perfectly – medium rare – and it was flavorful and juicy. The thin fried onions had a nice texture to them, and the slightly sweet sauce rounded it all out.

I love steak, and I love fries, so I had to get the Steak Frites, a grilled 8-ounce flat iron steak served sliced atop a mound of peppered fries and covered in gorgonzola cream. I was able to eat all of the steak but I had to box up the fries.

Shelby and I were stuffed and felt like we probably could roll out of the restaurant when Kat asked if we were interested in hearing about the dessert menu. We weren’t planning on dessert but we wanted to hear what was available.

All desserts are made in-house, and when we heard Egg Nog Cheesecake, we had to try it. I figured we would have a couple of bites and box the rest. Wrong! We ate the whole thing there. The gingerbread crust was a nice touch.

After saying our goodbyes, we left full and content. The food and service were great. We’re lucky Rowell happened to drive by the building and was inspired to open Whiskey Kitchen in our town.

Whiskey Kitchen
2149 General Booth Blvd., Virginia Beach