Saturday, June 19, 2010

Double Your Pleasure

Thanks to a good friend, the Trusty Assistant and I were able to exercise a get out of jail free card and steal a night out on the town.  With our new found freedom we found a place with so much beer it's actually two places in one.  Birch & Barley/Churchkey recently opened in the Logan Circle neighborhood of Washington, DC. 

Churchkey is the upstairs lounge at the establishment.  As if it's an attempt to prove they are separate establishments, Churchkey does offer a food menu.  More importantly, it offers something like 100 kinds of beer on draft and a nearly-endless list of beer by the bottle.  It's a funky, trendy sort of spot but perfect for a beverage while waiting for your table downstairs at Birch & Barley.

We ordered Allagash White and the Silly Saison.  We've covered Allagash before and the Silly Saison was rather disappointing.  It's a blend of new and old saisons, which is intriguing but it's as if they found all the boring saisons for this experimental brew.  Staff were quite friendly and provided a level of service not easily found inside the beltway.  If there is one disappointment for the entire evening it's that we were not allowed to bring our unfinished Allagash to the dinner table.

Birch & Barley is the downstairs restaurant and equally trendy and funky but with the more distinct "sit down and enjoy your meal" vibe you would expect.  There are two primary ways to enjoy a meal at B&B.  For $55 you can enjoy a five course meal with appropriate beer pairings as determined by the chef.  The only catch being that they ask all members of the party participate to accomodate for the timing of the meal.  We chose "Plan B", meaning we decided to pair our own brews with our meal. 

The food is exquisite and priced very well.  We highly recommend the anti-pasta flatbread - it could serve as an entree.  If you like seafood, the Striped Bass is excellent.  The Grilled Pork Tenderloin makes for good leftovers.  If you don't get dessert you are a fool.  Service downstairs was excellent.  Dustin, if you stumble your way to this blog, thanks for the great service.  Hope we tipped well.

It was a beautiful day in the nation's capital so we sat outside and paired our flatbread with Schlafly Kolsch (say that three times fast - or one time slow).  It seemed appropriate for warm weather and appetisers.  We're not the biggest Kolsch fans but this was pleasantly surprising and certainly worth drinking again.  For the remainder of the evening we settled on Green Flash Brewing Company's Hop Head Red Ale; an American Amber Ale that was a bit heavy for a summer evening but the calm breeze inspired us to have several glasses.

It's safe to say this is our new favorite place to eat, drink, and be merry.  Not surprisingly, it's been the talk of the town and was recently named by the Washington City Paper as one of the top 50 places to eat.  Truthfully, if you go you must experience both Churchkey and Birch & Barley.  Surely the evening would otherwise be less interesting.  One recommendation is to make reservations.  We didn't so we sat in Churckey at the mercy of the red flashing buzzer.  Had we made reservations we would have showed up an hour early and really enjoyed the upstairs.  Of course, now we know and "knowing is half the battle."


spunky frog said...

sounds fantastic. want to go.

HH said...

A friend spent a few months in Chicago earlier this year and tried the Silly Saison - it was one of her favorite beers of her trip. I agree with you that is rather innocuous. But, considering that she had been residing in Texas for a year, great strides. Can't wait to try this place next time I'm in DC!

Kristen said...

Schlafy!!! A respectable Missouri brew. Hope you had a great time on your evening out!