This is my wife’s and my favorite restaurant. Take a world-class beer selection, fantastic food, and outstanding food/beer pairings, and that sums up Birch & Barley. The excellent service just adds to the experience. If there’s one thing I could change, it would be for the restaurant to be a bit quieter.
Wow. Of all the beer places I’ve been around the country and abroad this is one of the best on every level. What’s most impressive perhaps is that the food is on par with beer in Birch & Barley. It’s a fine restaurant and expensive but it was worth every penny. Hands down best gnocchi I’ve had! It’s design is warm and modern. The service was impressively attentive and friendly. The 4.5 oz pour options were perfect for pairing. The list while I find confusing oddly b/c it is organized by character rather than country or style is insanely long, deep, and filled with rarities and well curated choices. I could almost move to DC for it.
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
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!
Went to Birch and Barley for a nice dinner. Only one downside to this place: no valet, and the street parking SUCKS. Should have taken the metro. On to the good stuff. Ambiance: Beautiful, quirky building, lots of brick, wall sconces etc. Very nice, not too loud. Service: Excellent, friendly waitstaff. Not intrusive, but very present. Seemed relatively knowledgeable about the tap list. Selection: INCREDIBLE. Rotating draft list of about 50 beers, regularly and exactingly updated on the website. I reviewed the website before coming to dinner to help make my choices and food pairings. But there’s also a standing, 500+ bottle list, and a large, rotating special reserve bottle list, neither of which are online. All the beer lists are exceedingly well-organized and user-friendly. Food: ASTOUNDING. I had the brat burger, and it was probably the best burger I’ve ever had. The mac and cheese is ridiculous, the bread board is amazing (pretzel rolls FTW), and the housemade charcuterie is wonderful. Dessert was the fried french toast with smoky bacon caramel sauce--it’s indescribably good. Value: Price is high, but it’s a great restaurant in DC. Beer prices were actually pretty reasonable for the drafts. Overall: Could not be more enthusiastic about this place. It’s my new favorite beer spot in the city. Really liked that you could get a 4oz shot of anything on draft for around $2, which let me sample about twice as many beers as I would have otherwise. Great place.
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.
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.
Atmosphere is really nice and sleek. Definitely quite modern. There is a pretty good amount of seating and a very large bar. All the taps located behind the bar look quite nice, not to mention the ginormous shelving unit opposite the bar housing all the goodies that Greg is aging.
Quality is about the best I could ever expect from a bar. Everything they do--glassware, menu printing, Twitter notifications, etc.--is first class.
Service is normally quite good, especially when you sit at the bar during an off period. All the bartenders and servers who I have had are quite friendly and typically very knowledgeable. My only knock here is that it can get quite crowded at times and service is then understandably quite a bit slower.
The selection is by far the best in the DC area. Fifty taps, five casks, and 500 bottles in stock. This place is constantly bringing in beer that you won’t be able to find anywhere else in the region. Additionally, while it’s great right now, I expect it to get even better given Greg’s dedication and the fact that DC law is pretty lenient in a lot of a relevant areas.
The food is excellent at both Birch & Barley and Churchkey, with the former being a bit more upscale and pricey. B&B’s brunch is absolutely fantastic.
Overall, the price points aren’t too bad, especially considering all the options. Also, while some of the single beers are a bit pricey, definite points for offering a 4oz. pour of any of the drafts.
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.