by Eric Ginsburg
This is the kind of menu that tempts me to order something different every time I come in.
Not many people have found the restaurant, set back off Lawndale Avenue across from the Target shopping center and not far from Southern Lights Bistro. Not yet, at least.
Kirkwood Kitchen & Bar is a new restaurant focused on American food with an unusually high selection of craft beers. And despite an intriguing cocktail menu, the most exciting aspect of Kirkwood is the lunch menu. Though the French dip sandwich with smoked beef was underwhelming, the Standard, a Lexington-style, hot pulled-pork sandwich, is definitely worth ordering again.
But with a grilled portobella burger on the menu, served with sautéed spinach, mozzarella and a generous clump of tomato chutney, I made the right call to continue exploring. The juiciness of the mushroom cap mixed with the savory greens, melted cheese and the jam-like chutney to create a delicious concoction, complemented well by salted sweet potato fries.
It will be harder to stray from the portobella burger, a filling and relatively healthy option, though at some point curiosity will get the better of me and I’ll order the beer-battered fried fish, Kirkwood burger with roasted poblano pepper or turkey club. But first I’d likely work my way through the flatbreads, starting with the barbecue brisket and jumping to the spicy smoked sausage with roasted red pepper before finishing with the mushroom, caramelized onion and mozzarella option.
There are a fair number of salad choices too — five — including an impressive kale Caesar salad with spiced pumpkin seeds and shaved Parmesan that is all the better with the addition of chicken. For dinner, most of the salads, all the flatbreads and the three burgers including the portobella remain. Filling out the menu are a rack of ribs, shrimp and grits, a New York strip, sliders and a few other selections.
The bar splits the restaurant in half, confusing some patrons when they first walk in one of the two exterior doors. The upshot is that three seating areas, including a patio, are divided, making a relatively large venue cozier and giving diners options for their experience.
Bar manager Hannah Hawkins — who some locals know from her days behind the bar at 1618 while others recognize as the drummer for punk outfit Daddy Issues — created the cocktail menu here, which is filled with alluring options. Ever had Makers Mark with Angry Orchard and an apple slice? What about Bombay Sapphire with Fever Tree ginger brew, muddled basil and lime? And then there’s the cherry Midnight Moonshine with Cheerwine and lemon or the Knob Creek smoked maple with amaretto, smoked bacon and toasted cherry.
The restaurant is owned by Huong Ni, who also owns the popular Hibachi Café in downtown on South Elm Street as well as Mi Casa Mexican Grill in southern Greensboro. This new venture is a little more refined, aiming at a slightly higher price point, which makes sense given the surrounding neighborhood. Still, the most expensive lunch option is $10, and the restaurant offers half-off wings two days a week.
In some ways Kirkwood Kitchen & Bar may appeal most to the after-work crowd, dropping by for drinks or bouncing between here and Southern Lights. Kirkwood is definitely intent on the evening crowd — given the impressive cocktail menu, large craft-beer selection and half-off wine on Thursdays — but the peacefulness at lunchtime has its own allure.
Visit Kirkwood Kitchen & Bar at 2618 Lawndale Drive (GSO) or at kirkwoodkitchen.com.