100 Best Restaurants 2011: Birch & Barley

Only the top 40 restaurants were ranked in 2011's Best Restaurants list.

This low-lit destination is a wine bar for beer, with an astounding selection—555 artisanal brews, including 50 on tap—and a beer sommelier, Greg Engert, whose expertise is as exhaustive as it is geekily impassioned.

Although the food can’t compare to the novelty or excitement of the suds, chef Kyle Bailey has assembled an eclectic sampler of current trends—pork belly, tuna tartare, hand-rolled pastas—that impress with their emphasis on detail over flash.

Pastry chef Tiffany MacIsaac supplies an exuberant finish—she can assemble a plate of nine disparate elements, as she does in her apple beignet, and yet communicate something simple and true. MacIsaac also bakes superlative pretzel rolls that make it tempting to bypass dinner altogether and gorge on beer and pretzels.

Also good: Ricotta cavatelli; tagliatelle with sautéed mushrooms; pan-seared rainbow trout with apple-and-bacon chutney; prosciutto-wrapped veal with potato gratin; figgy toffee pudding cake with brandy-poached pear; cookies-and-confections plate.

Open Tuesday through Saturday for dinner, Sunday for brunch (until 8 pm). Expensive.

>> See all of 2011's Best Restaurants


Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.