With all of the new restaurants opening up in the Triangle lately, it’s hard to know which ones are worth the hype. One of the restaurants receiving said hype is Whiskey Kitchen. The new space on Martin Street near the gorgeous Nash Square in Downtown Raleigh has brought foodies and cocktail enthusiasts to their spacious bar and restaurant in the first few months that it has been open.
Owners Jeff Mickel and Mike Thor have turned what was once an office space into a bright, open neighborhood bar with a larger than expected dining room and tons of cozy outdoor space. As their website says, Whiskey Kitchen is “One part bar, one part Southern Kitchen” and from the looks of it, they’ve achieved their goal.
I joined my fellow writers for lunch at Whiskey Kitchen to indulge in food… lots of food. Although Whiskey Kitchen hasn’t rolled out their entire menu yet, they still have quite a lot to choose from, especially for lunch. We started with the Farm Cheese, Smoked Fish Dip, and Fried Cauliflower. The Farm Cheese ($8.00) was a soft cheese topped with a poached egg and served with grilled bread. I’m not a huge cheese person myself, so while a couple of my fellow diners thought the cheese was too bland, I really enjoyed it. The poached egg added a really nice touch, with the runny yolk mixing well with the cheese.
Next was the Smoked Fish Dip ($11.00). I love dining with others because someone always orders something I would never order myself and I normally end up loving it; this was no exception. I don’t know how to describe the texture of the dip besides a fancier, more delicious version of a tuna salad, served with bagel chips. Unfortunately, this is where we ran into a bit of a snag. I was dining with someone who has a severe nut allergy and, after thinking she saw a nut in the topping of the dip, she double-checked with our waitress. Regrettably, the waitress didn’t seem to have much of an idea if this dish, or any dish, contained nuts, which proved to be very frustrating after asking multiple times and finally speaking with the chef to ensure that everything was nut free. He relieved the previous apprehension by going into detail about each dish we ordered so as to make sure all ingredients were nut free. The final appetizer, Fried Cauliflower ($8.00), was my favorite. It was a little crispy and seasoned deliciously with Benny T’s Vesta, another favorite of the Tri Foodies.
For entrées, we all chose something different. I went with the Chicken Salad Sandwich, which was pretty straightforward, but still really tasty. I got the side salad, which was surprisingly colorful and tasted great. A friend also tried the Fried Skate Sandwich ($11.00), which came recommended by our waitress. Most of us had never had Skate before and after taking a bite, became immediate fans. The chili mayo really made the sandwich for me. The Wedge Taters alongside the sandwich were unbelievably crispy on the outside with a malt vinegar salt dusting that really made them stand out against any other potato wedges.
Another friend tried the Shrimp Salad Sandwich, which was like a shrimp po’boy. The sandwich was topped with dill and pickled celery, which added a really tart and unexpected touch. The last member of our party went with the Charred Wedge ($11.00), which was topped with sunflower seeds, avocado, radish, basil, bacon, and Ginger-Poppyseed Dressing. The presentation of the salad was gorgeous and it tasted really fresh as well. He also tried the Cream Corn ($5.00) on the side. I had never had cream corn before, so I don’t have much to compare it to, but I really enjoyed it. It was just sweet enough, and nice and creamy.
Overall, our experience at Whiskey Kitchen was great. The food was all very tasty, and eating outside on a beautiful day made everything even better. While I haven’t yet been for whiskey, it seems like a great atmosphere for a weekend or after-work cocktail. I can’t wait to get back and see what Whiskey Kitchen’s full menu will be like when they roll it out.
Tessa Nguyen is a chef and registered dietitian working in the Triangle area. She is an alumna of Johnson & Wales University and Meredith College. When Tessa isn’t traveling and discovering new food spots, she teaches culinary nutrition cooking classes at Duke and works as a consultant in the health and wellness industry. You can follow her on Instagram or Twitter @