100 Very Best Restaurants 2014: Birch & Barley

Photograph by Chris Leaman.

At first glance, you might think this beer fanatic’s haven is all about the suds. Greg Engert’s 500-plus brew list specifies not only each lager’s and IPA’s provenance but also its proper serving temperature and glassware. The woodsy dining room’s main visual? A copper “organ,” whose pipes carry beers on draft. Happily, the attention to detail extends to the plate, too. It’s hard not to polish off freshly baked kalamata-olive and pretzel rolls before appetizers even hit the table. You’ll want to save room, though, for a lovely salad of Honeycrisp apples with slivers of mortadella or an oblong flatbread laden with salt-roasted pears and smoked provolone. Bigger plates are unexpectedly elegant. Ever had wolf fish? Neither had we until we tried the meaty, monkfish-like filet here, which paired beautifully with roasted salsify and lentils. And don’t skip dessert—especially the joyfully nostalgic cookies-and-confections plate, featuring miniature riffs on Hostess cupcakes and Snickers bars.

Open: Tuesday through Saturday for dinner, Sunday for brunch and dinner.

Don’t Miss: Arctic-char tartare with yuzu gelée; charcuterie board; fig-and-prosciutto flatbread; bratwurst burger; honey-roasted duck breast; peanut-butter cheesecake; fried chicken and waffles (brunch only).

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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.

Anna Spiegel
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.