Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sneak Preview: Birch & Barley and ChurchKey

Update: Both the Birch and Barley and ChurchKey websites are up and running. Not much info on either of them at the moment. Also, the ChurchKey team is maintaining a blog, where you can learn all sorts of useful information about how to properly serve beer.


This evening, 14thandyou got a sneak peek at the new beer-centric establishments Birch & Barley and ChurchKey--which we learned will be having a soft opening tomorrow evening.

So, what's the former Dakota Cowgirl space (located near the interseciton of 14th and Rhode Island) looking like? Well, you're looking at the dining room of first floor bistro "Birch and Barley", whose cuisine is being dubbed "rustic Americana." Hey, whatever--so long as it doesn't involve small plates, it's all good.

Chef Kyle Bailey, a New York transplant, will be manning the kitchen, while another ex-New Yorker, Tiffany Macisaac, will be serving as pastry chef. One of her creations--Roasted Apple Beignet served with cinnamon chantilly, golden raisin purée and mulled cider sorbet--sounds just about good enough to eat.

Upstairs at ChurchKey, the focus is on the beer. We got to chat for a bit with beer director Greg Engert, who told us in a very excited fashion about the three chilled coolers where the establishment's 50 (!) on-tap brews will reside. There is the super-chilled 42 degree cooler, for lighter beers, a 48 degree cooler for medium-bodied brews, and a 54 degree cooler for the beers Mrs. 14thandyou might describe as "chewy"--a method that is not used by any other DC beer-serving establishments, Engert told us.

They will offer a pub-style menu as well, but the focus is clearly going to be on the booze--in addition to the aforementioned 50 on-tap beers, ChurchKey will also offer over 500 bottled beers, 5 casks, 60 wines and 40 ciders. Which is good, because there is a very long 55 75' bar from which one can enjoy the libations.

As if further proof were needed, the beer selection is currently residing in the space that will become the lounge--and as you can see, it took up a lot of it.

Curious to find out more for yourself? Stop over tomorrow evening for the un-grand opening. The 14thandyous will be unable to make it, but if you get a chance to go please post comments and let us know what you thought.


dcvoterboy said...

great preview! looking forward to the great cider selection!

Anonymous said...

Any ideas as to their hours? Open for lunch?

Bill DeBaun said...

So excited for this. The cider offering will make it easy to convince my girlfriend to go.

Anonymous said...

Address, hours, and prices fail.

Mr. Other Upper NW said...

Didn't see a menu for Birch and Barley, and they don't have it up on their website yet...ChurchKey menu is pub fare, so most stuff is in the $6-$12 range. Dunno about the beer prices.

Hours are Sun-Thurs. to 1a, Fri-Sat to 2a.

One other item worth noting: they were supposed to have a rooftop deck. Unfortunately, the delayed opening has pushed that back as well. I've been told that the rooftop deck will be opening in the spring.

DCnaive said...

I don't know all the hours, but here are some facts that I gathered from going last night. They were open til 1am (thursday night). The beers on draft range from $5 - $14 but I never spent above $6.50 and had the beers I'll list below. I didn't get to check out Birch and Barley, but I'm really excited about that as well. The food upstairs smelled delicious, but we didn't order any. Same price range: $4 - $15 or so. They have 4 tvs behind the really long bar, so that's a plus - no need to avoid because you wanted to watch a game. The staff was clearly earning their keep last night and I never felt like it took too long to get my drink. We had one issue when my tab came back 3 beers more than we order, but it was taken care of with no questions asked and without any silly groveling for forgiveness.

Having been in the industry here and in NYC, I'm not easily impressed, though I'm not a snob/critic either. Given the pent up anticipation and HUGE crowd (probably over capacity), the place was seamless and gorgeous on opening night. The devil is in the details as they say and I must tip my hat to everyone that works for or with this establishment. I'll be heading over there as much as my budget can allow.

Beer's I had:

*Third Coast Old Ale 2008
*Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter, *New Holland Smoked Rye Bock
*Allagash Curieux Tripel aged in casks formerly used to
mature Jim Beam Bourbon
*Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale.

the last 2 were cask beers, and none of those were more than $6.50 for a glass (some were smaller glasses)