For D.C. beer lovers, it’s hard to imagine a better address than 1337 14th Street NW, not far from Logan Circle. That’s where Birch & Barley and upstairs Churchkey both draw on the talents of Neighborhood Restaurant Group Beer Director Greg Engert to deliver one of the more thoughtful beer programs in the country, but don’t stop with beer. Kyle Bailey and his pastry chef/wife Tiffany MacIsaac deliver beer-friendly food with bold flavors. On Sunday nights at Birch & Barley, they offer a special brunch menu that runs into the night, including what might be the best version of Fried Chicken & Waffles ($15) I’ve experienced to date.
Bailey buttermilk brines boneless dark meat before applying a seasoned batter that’s spiked with fenugreek, black pepper and cayenne, which jointly contribute a lingering kick. MacIsaac supports the chicken with an airy Belgian waffle that host buttered pecans and maple chicken jus. My server, Jennaway, paired my chicken & waffles with Smuttynose Noonan Black IPA, which provided a toasty counterweight to the plate’s sweetness and spice.
Fried chicken and waffles have proven so popular that the Birch & Barley chefs added a fried chicken and donut shop in April near Dupont Circle, called GBD (Golden Brown Delicious). At GBD, they use the same fried chicken recipe, and even serve the bird on the bone. Of course I tried the new restaurant as well, and it may be counterintuitive, but I actually preferred the version at Birch & Barley, which packed more punch.