The decor here is blandly attractive, similar to most any casual-fine dining restaurant in modern America. Lots of wood, minimalist artwork, edison lightbulbs. The beer list is identical to Churchkey and is world-class. The bar accommodated an off-menu cocktail request perfectly; like all NRG places the liquor and wine selection is given nearly the same reverence and attention to detail as the beer.
For dinner we enjoyed two vegetable focused small plates, both creative and delicious, followed by fresh pastas which were great but not outstanding. Service was attentive and kind, if a bit rehearsed. The waiter also did a fantastic job helping a confused elderly couple next to us. If and when I return I look forward to hanging out at the quieter bar in Birch and Barley while the party rages upstairs.
jde123 (85) Washington, Washington DC | December 20, 2015
Decent place, I’ve visited many times, for private events and tastings to family meals to business dinners. Always turns out great.
2015-03-04. My parents cancelled on our dinner plans at the last minute so solidfunk and Travlr joined Mabel and I for dinner. Carl and our waitress took great care of us all night. She resisted the urge to hit solidfunk despite us encouraging her to do so! :) We tried a good selection of the menu including risotto balls (simple but tasty), an assortment of breads (superb), puttanesca (excellent, which is especially impressive since I did not expect to like it), Ricotta Cavatelli (pork belly was crispier than my preference but the pasta and sauce was lovely). I had the Spring House Pork Loin (delicious, but I would ask for it more well-done if I had it again.) The atmosphere is great, classy and upscale without feeling pretentious. I found the lighting just a touch too dark. The tap list was extensive with offerings in a range of styles and over a dozen beers that were new ratings for Mabel and I, including several I hadn’t even heard of before. We ordered a large number of half-pours, for which you pay a bit of a premium but it’s worth it IMHO to be able to sample your way through the beer list. I didn’t even look at the bottle list as I didn’t want to be tempted! Possibly one of my best beery evenings while travelling. Many thanks to the staff and the company. Cheers!
We visited on a short trip to DC, on our way up to Churchkey. Excellent beer list that was very well curated with many styles represented. The selection was killer as it was the same as what was available upstairs (various Three Floyds, Founders, Terrapin, etc.). The décor was very modern. Exposed brick, hanging lights, wood floors led to a cool vibe. Pricing was very reasonable given the selection. Didn’t get to taste the food downstairs (not sure if it’s different from that of the food upstairs, which was killer).
Visited a few years ago with a friend. We went to take in the massive beer list they have which is quite unbelievable. We drank something we never had before from a country we had not tasted a beer from. The food was great and service was outstanding. For a place that has that many beers it was organized and easy to find what you are looking for. Overall a must on the beer destination list if in DC. Cheers!
When I visited: Late September 2014.
What I had: Draft samples of Hill Farmstead & Blaugies La Vermontoise, Perennial Peach Berliner Weisse, and Dominion Hop Mountain Pale Ale, pint of Mad Fox Defender American Pale Ale and Prairie Artisan Ales Birra, seared bluefish for me, appetizer bread plate, tomato cucumber salad, hand-cut pappardelle, and several sauvignon blancs for my fiancé, caramel icebox cake to split.
What I liked: Upscale, cosmopolitan atmosphere, plenty of seating available at the dinner bar, well laid out beer and food menus, ridiculously knowledgeable and inviting service from the bartender, impressive and carefully selected draft list, love that they offer flights, truly exceptional food, my partner really enjoyed her wine.
What I disliked: Our server, while stellar, was a little one-dimensional to the extent that he only discussed the beer and food and didn’t talk about the wine or ask my fiancé whether she liked her vino. Prices are high but that’s not surprising for a place of this calibre.
Would I go back? Yes. Birch & Barley easily ranks as one of the best restaurants we’ve ever been to. This is a must-visit destination when in D.C.
Overall Rating: 98
It took 5 years since they opened, but I finally made it to Birch & Barley. It was an early anniversary date with my girlfriend, and we decided to do the tasting menu.
The food was wonderfully paired with the beer. Some of it was strange, but all was at least tasty. Most was delicious. A bit pricy, but the quality of the food and the quantity is enough to satisfy (us at least). Draft and bottle list is the same as Churchkey, so you don’t have to go upstairs to get specific beers if you plan on only dining there.
The atmosphere is very different than upstairs. It is laid back, quiet and reserved. There’s a tiny bit of mixed yuppy and hipster arrogance in some of the clientele, but if you’re only focusing on your table, it’s not really all that noticeable. Perhaps it’s a bit slow at first, especially if you’re a very hungry.
Overall, I’d probably only come here for special occasions or for beer dinners, and leave my regular, more casual trips to Churchkey upstairs.
Pretty sketchy place with all the suits and wannabee suits surrounding the average person. Of course the DC pricing and lack of service is in effect but there is some decent selection of beers. OK but overall uninspired.
(Visited 07/2014): Birch & Barley is located on 14th Street in downtown DC. We took a cab from our hotel so I am unsure what the parking situation is. The restaurant is downstairs from Churchkey.
There is a small patio out front. The interior is dark with a long and narrow floor plan. A windowed garage door faces the street and lets some light in. Exposed brick walls, hanging lights and wooden floors lend to a cozy and rustic feel.
Birch and Barley shares a beer list with Churchkey. There are over 50 beers available on draught, including many breweries from the region like DC Brau and Devils Backbone, plus other domestic craft brewers like Terrapin and Perennial. Additionally there are some imports on tap from the likes of 3 Fonteinen and Get Radical. The bottle selection numbers in the hundreds, with many craft breweries around the world represented, including a lot of seasonals and rarities. Samples are available.
Service on a busy weekday evening was good. The server was knowledgeable about the beer menu and was attentive throughout our meal.
Food at Birch & Barley is good, albeit deliberately bizarre at times. My colleagues and I shared a few small plates and we enjoyed everything.
Overall this place is deservedly at the top of beer spots to visit in DC.