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June 13, 2010

Birch & Barley

Ok, I have neglected you for a bit, I'm sorry. I've had a busy week but now I'm relaxing and ready to get caught up. First up- Birch & Barley.

Birch & Barley in Logan Circle is a great place for a serious beer lover. With 50 brews on draft and a total offering of 500, there is definitely a beer for everyone. As you walk towards the bar in the back your eyes are instantly drawn to the giant copper pipes, like an organ, that bring the draft beer down from above to the taps behind the bar. (Churchkey, the sister bar is upstairs and the location of the temperature controlled rooms housing the beer.)  The floors are a beautiful dual-toned hardwood (that I've now decided I must have for my house.) The space has a warm, earthy feel with a wood logs, oil candles and a gorgeous natural wood bar. The bar and restaurant are accented by the uber-popular acrylic chairs, giving the space a modern and minimalist look.

I ordered a summer ale from the back bar while waiting for a table and took note that they stock a variety of different glasses specific for the type of brew you choose - a sign of people serious about their beer! (I mean, come on, they have a Beer Director.)

Once seated, I tried another summer brew and studied the menu. There were several things on the menu I wanted, but one item won me over. It was a grilled pork tenderloin with ramps and spaetzle. To be honest, I didn't order this for the pork. It's so easy to make and is something I make about once a month because all you do is throw it in the oven and wait. I chose this dish for the ramps. Ramps are a wild leek that are only available for a window of a few weeks in spring. They are considered a delicacy in most places as they are hard to get. They have a strong, garlicky onion flavor that evokes earthiness. Second to the ramps, I do love spaetzle (tiny, soft pasta dish) and it's often overlooked for the more widespread side of mashed potatoes or mac and cheese. (Don't get me wrong, those are two of my favorite things, but sometimes you want a little variety.)

As soon as the waiter placed my dish on the table I dug right in to the ramps. They were tender with a strong bite. I devoured them. Even though I was originally indifferent to the pork, it caught me by surprise with it's smoky seasoned outer crust and soft tender center. It was cooked perfectly. The light sauce drizzled over the plate was a perfect compliment. I was also surprized with how delicate the spaetzle was. It is usually a dish that has a heavy, creamy feel but this was tender and fluffy with very little sauce. This dish sounds like a big, heavy comfort-food type of meal but it was actually quite light and refreshing- perfect for a hot spring evening.

I was quite happy with the entire experience at Birch & Barley. They have a beer to satisfy any palate and a dish to satisfy any tummy. Did I mention they serve brunch on Sundays until 8pm? Awesome.

Birch & Barley
1337 14th Street, NW
Washington, DC

Check out Metrocurean's post about Birch & Barley & Churchkey. She has some great pictures of the space!


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