Food

100 Best Restaurants 2012: Birch & Barley/ChurchKey

From soulful bistros to high-gloss steakhouses, there's lots of good eating in DC, Maryland, and Virginia

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Chef Kyle Bailey, his wife and pastry chef Tiffany MacIsaac, and beer director Greg Engert are the dream team at this beer-centric destination, which glows like a modern barn. Upstairs, ChurchKey is one of DC’s hottest bars, serving sandwiches, flatbreads, and nibbles along with an impressive roster of bottles and drafts. Downstairs is Birch & Barley, the more sophisticated sister establishment that, thanks to Bailey’s rustic cooking, is still tough to get into two years after opening.

The hard-to-find brews, such as a wonderful English bitter, are the obvious drink choices, but cocktails such as the mint gimlet also go down easy.

What to get: Juicy sweetbreads; herbal risotto with ricotta and marinated peach; pork loin with greens and eggplant; cavatelli with roasted chicken and chicken-skin cracklings; hake with beans and corn; grilled skirt steak with puréed potatoes and mustard greens; bratwurst burger; cookies-and-confections plate; summertime peach pie and blueberry tart.

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

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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.