Birch & Barley / ChurchKey
Ratings: 168 | Reviews: 106 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by Sludgeman:
District of Columbia
4.13/5 rDev -8.4%
Visited Church Key multiple times - weekdays and weekends, early and late, during events and not.
Overall, this place is on my list when I need a special beer. Its a beer drinkers bar . . . the bar upstairs tends to be too crowded and service suffers. Sitting at the bar in the Birch & Barley is much prefered. Go early and leave early, the experience will be much better and you'll most likely get the beer you are looking for. Not kid friendly except early. Can be too dark for some of us whose eyes are little older. They REALLY need to resolve the dishwashing detergent odor issue noted below.
3/26/2013 - A Wednesday during the Craft Brewers Conference. Super crowded. A new line up of beers special for the night. Cool stuff.
A - The restaurant is less crowded and has a better atmosphere.
Q - I have to ding them this time. 3 of my 5 tastes had that dishwashing detergent odor. Could not taste, but the odor was clearly evident. Thought it was maybe the beer the first time. Sitting at the bar in the restaurant watching the bartender put glasses through the dishwasher. When she pulled the glasses out she would do a quick rinse on the glass washer before pouring a beer. I mentioned it to the bartender and she agreed. Without my asking she credited two of the beers. She was more attentive to rinsing the glasses before a pour.
S - Service in the restaurant is much better than in the upstairs bar.
S - Unbelieveable. Top notch.
F - Somewhat narrow menu but the food was good. I had the pieroges and the chicken rosemary flatbread. Both were yummy and arrive quickly.
2/2/2013 - Arrived about 6pm looking to have a few beers before we headed down the street for dinner. This was the first time I had visited. ChurchKey had been on my "to visit" list for quite some time and I finally made. Unfortunately I was underwhelmed.
A - When we walked in the first thing we noticed was the stale beer smell. Reminded me of my fraternity bar where I paid $0.25/beer. I can get over the smell, but for paying the prices the least they can do is keep it clean and somewhat fresh smelling. It was crowed (not complaining, popular places get crowded) with a good vibe. Seating is a challenge. And the lighting is quite low, making it difficult to read the beer menu.
Q - No complaints
S - Waiter was friendly and helpful, but the service was very slow. Busy and crowded means slow, but it was almost an hour between my first and second beers.
S - Beer selection is great, both on tap and by the bottle.
05-23-2014 13:54:54 | More by Sludgeman
More User Reviews:
4/5 rDev -11.3%
A superb beer selection is what you'll find here, as well as some good food with an emphasis on locally-sourced ingredients. That's a good formula for me.
I had the bratburger, which came with fries, and was comped some green beans that were probably the highlight of the meal. Well, except for when the bartender (I was sitting at the bar) gave me a small pour of Aecht Schlenkerla Fastenbier to complement the brat. It was a match made in heaven. The juicy, smoked flavors of the brat paired with the campfire, smoked ham flavor of the beer was a brilliant combo. Kudos to the bar guy for that.
And kudos to ChurchKey for the enviable tap selection. There was recently a sort of tap takeover by an Italian brewing outfit, Brewfist, so many of their brews were on tap. I wasn't crazy about any of them but they do some wild brews that were worth at least trying. Also available were some relatively local breweries like Union and 3 Star Brewing which are doing some good things and had beers I enjoyed. The real beer geek in me thanks Churchkey for having Cuvee Delphine by De Struise brewers on tap. That's a beer I'd be hard-pressed to find, or even be on the lookout for, anywhere else.
Overall, this place offers a fine-dining experience (complete with a very dim-lit ambiance) and craft beer galore. You can kill two birds with one stone. Woohoo.
08-17-2014 20:08:18 | More by ONovoMexicano
Birch & Barley / ChurchKey in Washington, DC
99 out of 100 based on 168 ratings.