The Hunt Room in Virginia Beach
Shortly after spending the weekend in Williamsburg with my mom, I received a visit from my dad. He was making his way back north after spending the week in South Carolina. As I thought of which delectable local restaurant to take my dad to, I remembered the perfect locale. Click here to read about my mom and I’s weekend in Williamsburg.
The Hunt Room is an upscale cocktail lounge located in the swanky Cavalier Hotel in Virginia Beach’s Oceanfront area. The Cavalier recently reopened in March 2018 after an extensive $80 million renovation. The hotel features five-star amenities, lavish décor and sophisticated dining options.
I was a little worried, given the high-end vibe of The Cavalier, that The Hunt Room would have a specific dress code. I changed from my Halloween costume into a sweater and noticed that the other diners and imbibers were dressed more casually. There’s no need to go full formal but, if you want to get dressed up, the restaurants at The Cavalier are the place to do so.
Over the summer, I attended a brunch at Becca. The restaurant was filled with large windows that created a bright and welcoming atmosphere in the chic, tea room-style dining room. In contrast, The Hunt Room is located on the lower level of the restaurant and offers an intimate, tavern-style atmosphere.
Located right next to The Hunt Room is the Tarnished Truth Distilling Company, a local distillery that specializes in signature bourbon, rye whiskey and their AVA vodka. Knowing that my dad can never pass up a handcrafted cocktail or smooth adult beverage, I took him to The Hunt Room since the space also serves as Tarnished Truth’s tasting room.
We walked into the low-lit restaurant and were immediately captivated by the large fireplace in the lounge. On the walls were trophies from the hunt, including ducks, geese, deer and even a large bear that rested beside one of the booths. Typically, that much taxidermy would make me uncomfortable, but The Hunt Room’s ambience was so serene that I didn’t even mind. In addition to the rustic décor, The Hunt Room’s menu features rustic American and Southern cuisine with an upscale twist.
Beginning with drinks, my dad ordered a glass of Tarnished Truth’s Old Cavalier, a bourbon aged for nine years. I’m not much of a bourbon drinker but my dad raved about how smooth the single-barrel bourbon was.
I went with something less strong and more on the fruitier side. The Hunt Room offers six unique mules, or stallions as the restaurant refers to them. I ordered the Whirlaway which comes in a copper mug piled high with crushed ice. The light, citrus flavors from the mezcal-based mule, lime juice, grapefruit, ginger beer and mint were much more my speed.
As soon as my dad looked at the menu, the Eastern Virginia Brunswick Stew starter jumped out at him. We ordered that to start our meal and the kitchen was nice enough to split the dish between two bowls.
The Hunt Room serves the traditional Southern dish with corn, butter beans, tomatoes, chicken and rabbit. In Eastern Virginia-style, the stew had a tomato base that offered a richer and less smoky flavor. Utilizing local and regional ingredients, the chicken and rabbit came from Joyce Farms, an all-natural farming company in Winston-Salem, N.C.
For our entrées, my dad chose the Fried Eastern Shore Quail while I ordered the Apricot Glazed Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin.
Neither my dad nor I had ever had quail prior to coming to The Hunt Room. The small bird was served fried and looked like chicken drumsticks, however, the meat was much more tender and robust than chicken. The fry on the quail offered a nice crunch without making the meat greasy. Served on top of soft stone-ground grits from Wade’s Mill in Raphine, Va., the dish was accompanied by sorghum-glazed carrots and a drizzle of homemade honey mustard.
My love for pork, especially pork wrapped in more pork, is what drew me to the Apricot Glazed Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin. The pork tenderloin was served in thick-cut medallions over airy whipped potatoes. The sweet apricot glaze helped break up with meat-heavy dish with a new flavor component. I love that The Hunt Room used the glaze as opposed to a rich gravy.
While a majority of the menu is an ode to the fantastic recipes cultivated with game meat, The Hunt Room also offers diners a selection of seafood, including Virginia oysters and Carolina shrimp, as well as salads, burgers and sandwiches.
Before we left for dinner, my dad suggested we stay in and simply order a pizza. Instead, I provided a more elevated experience that he loved and treated him to a new style of Southern cuisine.
The Hunt Room is located in The Cavalier Hotel at 4200 Atlantic Ave., Virginia Beach.