Review By: Elizabeth Walle -
On a recent Sunday morning, my mom parked the car while my sister and I lined up behind an anxious looking family on 14th street, 20 minutes before Birch & Barley was set to open. By the time the doors did actually open up, there was a line down the block. We were lucky to have come early enough to swipe a patio seat without a reservation. I was sad to miss sampling at least one from the restaurant’s staggering collection of artisan beers, but as it was brunch time, we had bloody mary’s and freshly squeezed juice and coffee instead, all of which was quite satisfying.
The freshly fried donut holes we were so eager to be served were a bit disappointing–they didn’t even seem to be donuts, but were far too dense and heavy, like a brioche with a slight glaze on the outside. Even the yummy sounding flavors–toffee-bacon, lemon-poppy and bittersweet chocolate–didn’t save them. We didn’t finish three of them between the three of us and we were pretty hungry.
The entrées were more exciting: my house-brined corned beef hash with fried duck eggs, potato and parsley was not only fun to look at but it had exactly the rich flavors I was hoping for. It was a perfect portion as well, leaving me satisfied but not stuffed. The sausage egg and cheese with hash browns was a bit difficult to eat due to its large size. The flavors were nice though, and the eggs fluffy and warm. The hash browns came as two deep fried batons and they weren’t bad but they didn’t pack very much flavor either.
The grits was good–my mother took the occasion to remind us that according to southern tradition, “grits” is singular. The grits is good, she corrected me. And they were. Or it was. The grits was scrumptious, cheesy and creamy.
We sat on the patio but I would have loved to enjoy the sleek dark wood interior of the restaurant as well, if I could manage to get a table, as Birch & Barley is quite popular. The menu is a great read, and makes you want to order all kinds of things. The food can be a bit heavy-handed, or just heavy. My entrée was really quite good though. I would go back to Birch & Barley again, but I might not wait in a line around the block for it.
Make a reservation at Birch & Barley.