Birch & Barley 4Evah

Is that still how the kids say forever?  4evah?  Or is that, like, totally 90s OMG?  We are so hip it hurts, here at GEIW.

4evah is a long time. How long?  Very long.  Use it in a sentence?  Sure: our recent  dinner at Birch & Barley (1337 14th Street) lasted seemingly 4evah.  There were nine of us, and we all got the tasting menu, and we were having a riotously good time, and they were selling a lot of wine, and I’m sure the staff didn’t want to rush us.  Fine.  But FOUR HOURS is too long for a meal, unless you’re at the Inn at Little Washington or El Bulli or some slow food banquet in Italy or something.  30+ minutes between each course is too many minutes.  I was lucky to catch the last red line train of the night, back to Wheaton.

Escargotic service speed aside, fun and good food was had by all.  The first course might have been best: marinated, thin-shaved pompano with smoky grilled corn and garlic stems, a wonderful mix of textures and sour, smoky flavors to cut the rich fish. Pillowy sweet potato ravioli with mixed greens, ricotta, and toasted pumpkin seeds succeeded in similar ways.  A roasted rabbit loin was only okay, saved by a beans-bacon pairing on a squash puree.  We also got a selection of desserts, I don’t even know what most of them were, they certainly looked good but I was too tired to care by that point.

Whoever is in charge of writing B&B’s menus is earning his/her keep.  The menus are precise, descriptive, well-concieved without being ridiculous or excessively adjectival.  Like the ravioli course: “dandelion greens, ricotta salata, sweet potato greens, toasted pumpkin seeds.”   We also had to look up a few things: tatsoi stems (a Chinese flat leaf cabbage, of the mustard family), Barigoule cardoons (artichoke thistle braised in wine), Chicken of the Woods (mushrooms, not even remotely related to actual chickens).  Educational and delicious is a good combination, but I wouldn’t want to sit through a four-hour lecture either, no matter how engaging the professor.

We’ve been to B&B before, of course, and we will go back again, because good food and beverage are so hard to find anywhere else on 14th Str…ummm…wait.

No, really, B&B offers good food and excellent beers and we’ve not had a problem with service or speed before, so we will totally return sometime, but probably would not get the tasting menu with a large party again.


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