The downstairs/restaurant portion has amazing food by Kyle Bailey. The homemade breads and mustards alone are a terrific start. They also have a paired tasting menu, and you can reserve the entire captain’s table area if you have enough people. The beers are the same as upstairs, and the 50 tap lines that come from upstairs look like a huge pipe organ. Extremely knowledgeable, helpful and friendly staff. Their paired beer dinners are definitely worthwhile, and usually the brewers attend. Great place.
(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.
The restaurant downstairs of Churchkey was actually more pleasant than Churchkey itself for us traveling as a couple. Beautiful setup with the massive organ reminders, beautiful walls and copper colours, exquisite lighting. The service was very professional and courteous. I was hoping for a little more on the food side though. We loved our homemade charcuterie plate as an appetizer, but I followed with a risotto that was abusively salty and close to unplalatable. The beer list though, is incredible, one of the best I have ever seen. Out of the 50+ taps, there were probably 30 that I felt like drinking right there, on the spot. Most of the beers I’d never tried before. Plenty of rarities including rare one-offs from obscure breweries like Trois Dames and the tmave specialni from Kout of all things. Extraordinary selection really and the bottle list is also jammed with rarities. I try to order one that seemed especially appetizing though and they were out of it. I did not try another and don’t know whether that’s a frequent occurrence. Prices were relatively steep, but not out of ground with DC’s high standards.
Not sure why these got separated out- but Churchkey is the semi-casual, super hipster trendy mega beer bar upstairs. Birch&Barley is the upscale, semi-formal, reservation dinner locale that also has a secret Sunday brunch. Prices are high, food quality is high, beer selection is the same tap list and bottle list as CK so if you are coming to the location for eating and beer ticking, go upstairs because they have a full menu too. Downstairs is for special occasions, not affordable normally. I had a wonderful experience here on a date with my now fiance and got to try a few beers I had never seen before at the time. Service is awesome, ambiance is really neat with the tap lines in the back looking like a bronze organ. For quality of food, the prices are not jaw-dropping surprisingly. This is the crown jewel of DC’s Neighborhood Restaurant Group and they take it seriously. Head chef wins a lot of competitions so be prepared for some crazy, modern, experimental dishes.
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!
Been several times. We took the metro to McPherson Square and then walked the rest of the way, you know you have reached the place because there are tables on the side walk and a big garage door that is open on the front of the building. I have also driven here and had to park five blocks away, take the metro if possible. The place is dimly lit and has modern decor. The food is good, I had the braut burger with fries and on another time the braised goat and potatoes. The tap selection is excellent, 50 beer taps. The first time I went I was not offered a bottle menu. I like that they offer samples. The prices for food and beer are expensive, but high quality. The complementary bread is excellent, however the spinach salad was way over priced. Beer knowledge varies between employees. Overall the food is very good, and they do have really good beer.
Finally hit up the downstairs section, and the food was great. Service amazing as usual, and the tap list is the same as upstairs, so not sure what more needs to be said. Good to get a seat on the patio as well, and the food selection down here is better than upstairs - if you are hungry it’s worth coming down here. Great place to eat and drink all your favourite beers.
Somewhat dim restaurant downstairs connected to ChurchKey upstairs. Same great draft and bottle list as ChurchKey. Mostly table service with reservations and some walk-ins. Been a few times and have enjoyed the food. Did the CBC 2013 Beer Week dinner which was fun and well organized. Good food, more upscale than ChurchKey. Service is decent to good. Nice spot for a special occasion or date night.