I had my birthday dinner at Blue Duck Tavern, but dinner on my birthday was actually at Birch & Barley. And dinner at Birch & Barley was actually brunch. Stay with me here.
According to their website, the concept of Birch & Barley is “to deliver deceptively simple, market driven dishes that draw flavor inspiration from the beers of Birch & Barley.” I do not drink beer. But this does not stop me from enjoying the flavors they inspire at Birch & Barley.
On Sundays B&B (hope it’s okay to abbreviate) serves its brunch menu into the evening. This is mostly a good thing. I have buffalo chicken flatbread with hot sauce and blue cheese. The crust is crisp, just as I like it, and the hot sauce adds a nice punch. It’s a portion big enough to share. I don’t, which means I have several pieces leftover for lunch the next day. I enjoy my flatbread with winter fruit sangria which includes pomegranate, blood orange, and apple. (I’m guessing this drink will convert to summer ingredients any day now.) I’m fine with the winter fruit. This is a delicious drink.
The only thing I miss are the wonderful breads I remember from a previous dinner at Birch & Barley, particularly pretzel rolls. As compensation, I have the opportunity to try the fresh donuts, which include a toffee bacon donut. At first, I am relieved that no one in my party of six is clamoring for this-either because they don’t eat bacon or the thought of this combination is not appealing. I on the other hand have been dying to try it since reading about it online. Twice in the past year my sister has called me from Voodoo Donuts in Portland, Oregon to taunt me while she enjoys their famous bacon maple donut. (She may not have been actually taunting me, but it feels that way). In fact last night she called from her vacation to tell me she was having a butterfinger donut in addition to the bacon maple. Damn her. I really need a trip to Portland! Sorry, I digress. The bottom line is that I don’t love the version at B&B, mostly because ours wasn’t served hot or even warm. It would have made all the difference. I leave several bites on the plate untouched.
Donut aside, I enjoy my non-birthday birthday dinner/brunch at Birch & Barley, and look forward to another trip back for dinner… and those wonderful pretzel rolls.
Birch & Barley, 1337 14th Street NW
My rating (on a 1-5 scale): 3.5
Zagat rating: 22
Now on to me and winning. I entered a recent blog post into a contest sponsored by Washington City Paper. Below is the email from the Young & Hungry newsletter announcing my win.
First off, massive props to everyone who took the time to jot down and send in some thoughts on their best dining experiences this year as part of our ticket giveaway contest to the 2011 Rammys.
I received a slew of submissions over the past two weeks. And, it was a pretty tough call, having to pick only two winners out of such a large crop of thoughtful and capable restaurant writers. I think it speaks to a certain level of sophistication, both of the D.C.-area dining scene and the D.C.-area diner himself.
But let’s not belabor the point. Get to the frickin’ winners, Shott!Congratulations go to Tom McClive and Lori Gardner, both of Silver Spring, it turns out. Tom’s review of Toki Underground nicely detailed both the food and decor of the trendy H Street NE ramen shop. His overall take on the place proved ultimately positive but sustained a degree of skepticism throughout, which I liked. Lori’s write-up of Table 21 at Volt was a bit more gushing. Literally. Her husband got sprayed in the face with liquid nitrogen during their dinner. Yet, somehow they still went home happy. That says a lot about the quality of the food. Lori’s write-up was breezy and also a bit funny. Additionally, she was the only contestant to include photos of her meal. Now, that wasn’t a requirement of the contest. But, as a sucker for food porn in all its forms, I had a hard time not giving her added marks for the extra effort. I plan to reprint Tom and Lori’s reviews on the blog this week. So stay tuned.
Both Tom and Lori will receive two tickets to the big foodie soiree this coming Sunday night, June 26, at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Northwest D.C. Don’t forget your masks, folks. The party this year has a masquerade theme. Also, you might want to maintain your anonymity just in case chefs Erik Bruner-Yang and Bryan Voltaggio took exception to your critiques. Oh, the life of a critic.
My winning blogpost can be found here: http://beenthereeatenthat.net/2011//05/breaking-news-and-dinner-at-volts-table/
Now that’s what I call winning, Charlie Sheen! Of course I will blog with all the details next week.