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FRIDAY FLAVOR: 1608 Crafthouse

A hometown feel with high end taste, and yes there's a PB&J on the menu

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Tucked away in a corner off of Pleasure House Road in Virginia Beach, you'll find 1608 Crafthouse. 

"The place is kind of unassuming. It's a local pub tavern-ish," owner Kevin Sharkey explained. 

He opened 1608 Crafthouse to create a spot that thrives on excellence, but with a hometown feel.

"So many of us in this industry have a dream to open up our own place," he said, looking around his restaurant.

"We like to do things a little bit differently here, and we've been pretty lucky that so far it's been pretty successful," said Sharkey. 

Their dishes are not your average burger and fries. Especially not the much-acclaimed bacon cheeseburger.

"Our bacon cheeseburger was recognized nationally in 2018 as one of the top 20 bacon cheeseburgers in the country," Sharkey said. 

So, what makes this burger so good? Sharkey said it's all about the process, starting with the meat. 

"We buy ground beef that we've been buying since the time we've been open. It's a mix of chuck, short rib, and brisket," he said. 

That's just the beginning, though. "We don't have a grill here, so we cook all of our burgers in a cast-iron skillet," he said. "They are crusted with bacon and stuffed with American cheese. They come with lettuce, tomato, on a brioche bun with french fries."

The description alone can make mouths water.

Their burger is a best seller and for a good reason. But, if burgers aren't your thing, they've got you covered too. 

Sharkey said they cut their fish and steaks in-house. They don't have a walk-in fridge or freezer, so everything is fresh and limited. 

"We buy small quantities of fresh product, and when it's gone, it's gone," he said.

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They've got a wild side to their menu, too. For example, a gigantic pretzel! 

"It is referred to as a, I don't know if I can say it on TV," Sharkey looked around the room and got a little quieter, "a big-ass pretzel. It comes in a pizza box. It's almost about a pound and a half of dough," he said. 

Just know it's plenty big for you and your company if you order one.

That's not where the menu stops, though. Let's throw it back to our childhood, but with a twist. 

"Our peanut butter and jelly sandwich is cinnamon swirl brioche bread, strawberry jam, and creamy peanut butter, and then we dip it in french toast batter, and then we dip it in frosted flakes," he said. "Cook it in a pan ... It comes with vanilla bean crème Anglaise, which is kind of like melted vanilla ice cream. So, while it is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, it is not just a peanut butter and jelly sandwich." 

The PB&J is a delicacy a kid and a kid at heart will love. It is toasty on the outside and creamy on the inside. The cinnamon swirl brioche bread takes it up a notch, too. 

For Sharkey, innovation is one thing, but excellence is another. He said at 1608 Crafthouse, they want everything to be at a top-tier level. 

"The goal here is that when you leave, I want people to be like, 'Wow, I didn't expect that from the level of the service to the level of the food, the quality of the beverages that we serve,'" he said. 

"What makes this place, this place?" Sharkey looked around the room. "It's kind of a quirky building, an older building, and some weird stuff, but I don't know if we could recreate the environment here somewhere else. This has become very much of a 'regulars and a locals' place," he said. 

A place for locals, with an elevated taste, tucked away in an unsuspecting corner of Virginia Beach. 

"You know you can bring your kids here. You can bring your dog on the patio. We want everyone to feel welcome no matter how you're dressed, who you are. We don't care. We just want you to come in and have a good time," Sharkey said. 

If you'd like to visit 1608 Crafthouse, you can find them at 1608 Pleasure House Road, Virginia Beach.

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