Characterizing McCormack's Whisky Grill and Smokehouse as "kinda unique" is about like describing its Robinson Street locale in the Fan as home to "an eatery or two." At this six-month-old establishment, there's no phone or TV, and credit cards are no good. Rough cedar planks create a rustic lodge feel and — get this — whiskey-loving adults and hungry kiddies alike are welcome.
As one might imagine, whiskey finds its way not only into drink glasses here, but also into the food. Hints of charred oak from this signature ingredient, for example, play well with the cranberry-and-citrus sauce drizzled over slices of skin-on duck breast. Dirty rice and assorted al dente veggies round out this savory and satisfying offering. Dessert enthusiasts might want to go for the bourbon s'mores pie. Burger lovers will dig the ultra-thick, juicy version topped with bacon, blue cheese and spicy barbecue-style sauce (shown). The steak fries come piping hot, but mine lacked the desired crunch.
Also worth a go are the fried oysters. The accompanying Parmesan-sprinkled, wilted spinach, though excessively garlicky, cuts adeptly through the richness of the plump, crisply breaded bivalves and makes for a successful starter.
Like lunch hours and a noticeably absent (and greatly missed) wine list, a children's menu is promised soon. Checking ahead for updates is advised ("the Whisky," as it's often called, does have a Facebook page). In the meantime, wee ones will be satisfied with such regular-menu offerings as the super-cheesy grilled cheese and BLT sandwiches. Mine especially liked the crisp, delicious fried green beans on the side.
With his latest venture, owner Mac McCormack (who also owns McCormack's Irish Pub in Shockoe Bottom) has created a singular spot: one that is likely to appeal in particular to seekers of unique, family-friendly destinations. Just don't forget the cash.
204 N. Robinson St.
Prices: Appetizers, salads and sandwiches $5.95 to $11.95; entrées $8.95 to $27.50; desserts $4.50.
Hours: 5:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily (plans call for lunch hours to be added in September).