Saturday, September 24, 2016

D.C. eats - Birch and Barley

I went on a trip to Washington D.C. recently and Birch and Barley was just down the street from my hotel. For some reason it caught my eye and I decided to go there for dinner one night. I think this place might be too hip, or trendy (?) for me. I don't know the right word. But it is lots of wood and brick and glass globe oil lamps on the walls and clear plastic chairs. And it is very dark. Not just dim, but it's hard to see what I'm eating dark. But maybe I just felt a little uncomfortable because I got there right when they opened and there was no one else there. Which was a surprise to me. Because when I went to Open Table to make a reservation and tried to get a table at 6:00 I was told that I could only get a table at 5:30 as nothing else was available. So I expected it to be, if not full, at least busy. And I don't like really crowded restaurants. But I don't like to be the only one in a place either. I guess there is just no pleasing me. Other people did start to come in a little later which did make me feel less self-conscience. 

I was seated and handed quite a few menus. They have a huge beer list. I like beer but I don't know all that much about it to be honest. So I was happy to see that they had the beer broken out by taste (fruity, hops, malty) to give me some place to start.  The complimentary bread included a pretzel bread that came with a mustard spread. It was good (if you like pretzels) and I thought it was a nice touch to go with the beer heavy menu.

My waiter explained all the menus for me and recommended the nettle garganelli (which I figured out was some sort of pasta which I had never heard of) which came in two sizes so it could be either an appetizer or an entree. I would have never ordered anything with nettle in the name on my own. It just sounds like something I wouldn't want to put in my mouth. But I did end up getting it as an appetizer. It was good. The corn was a nice fresh sweet taste that helped temper the onion so it didn't overpower the dish and the pasta was cooked al dente so it still had a good bite to it which I enjoyed. The only problem is I'm still not sure what nettle taste like. With all the flavors in the dish I didn't know which was the nettle. So I don't know if I like nettle but the dish was still good so it can’t be too bad.

For my entrée I got the pork ribs with gochujang and green apple-daikon slaw. They were pretty good. Fall off the bone tender. The gochujang had a nice spicy kick and the cool, creamy slaw was a nice counter point to that. I found the plate a little small so it was a little tricky pulling the meat off the bone without pushing things off onto the table. But I managed and enjoyed them.

For dessert I couldn’t pass up the funnel cake. It was good. I mean, it was sugary deep fried dough, how could it not be. But it wasn’t anything special and felt like something I could get at the fair. The staff was friendly enough and my waiter was happy to help me work through the beer menu. Altogether I was left with a neutral reaction to the experience. There was nothing that I was particularly disappointed about but there was also nothing that would pull me back.

Weekend Cooking is sponsered by Beth Fish Reads. Be sure to visit the other posts. You can find them on the Linky here.


Mae Travels said...

Reading through your last few restaurant reviews, I see that you often eat by yourself, but you don't comment on that difference between you and many restaurant-goers. I wonder how that affects your reaction to these places. I agree with you that an empty restaurant is depressing, and that Open Table often restricts your choices in an obnoxious way.

best... mae at

Beth F said...

Sounds like it was worth the visit, even if you wouldn't necessarily go back. The pork sounds like it was cooked perfectly. I've never ordered funnel cake in a restaurant, but like you, I'd expect it to be a few steps above fair food.