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.
JCB (294) Durham, North Carolina | September 26, 2014
Fabulous place in nearly every way. Well situated in a now long-thriving 14th St. corridor, it’s a spacious and well laid-out environment. Convivial but serious, the vibe was excellent too. We were waited on attentively but not overbearingly from the moment we arrived, and we had several employees making smart recommendations throughout the menu. Food was extremely good, and the beer selection phenomenal. Prices a bit scandalous in places, but what can you do? World class.
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.
Very nice ambiance for evening dining. Modern wood and metal with "floating" lights and real candles. Service was excellent on our visit and our server really seemed to know her stuff and actually enjoy beer. The food was not as good as we hoped- the brat burger was bland and the mussel flat bread flavors were out of balance. Pricey. Nice for a date or taking non-beer people out for dinner while you get to enjoy a cold one (or a "correct temperature" one).
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.
After countless trips upstairs to Churchkey, I finally made it to Birch & Barley. Place certainly has an upscale, rustic vibe but I was very happy that we would seat our group after we had just finished a race and were in running clothes. Service and food were fantastic. Certainly a more diverse menu than upstairs and the extra choices were great. Beer selection was unsurprisingly awesome and offered plenty of diversity. My only problem with the place is the prices. You certainly get quality, but I do feel that things tend to be a tad overpriced. Nonetheless, I great place to go.
For beer and restaurant it doesn’t get much better than this. For just restaurant it gets a lot better just outside the door in most any direction. My main concern here is value, and as far as dinner/meals are concerned it isn’t there.
Service, beer, all things beer people care about, this is the place for an expense account dinner when in the nations capital if you are trying to get some beer as well.
jdb288 (98) Wake Forest , North Carolina | November 7, 2013
Great beer selection - hands down the best in the area. Crowded bar up top or nicer restaurant below. It’s a bit of a free-for-all finding a table during busy times but it’s worth the wait. Service is hit or miss but that can also be attributed to the sheer volume of people in the bar. I’ll stop each time I’m back - it’s that good.
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.