Rachel and I have been fans of Birch & Barley, as well as its upstairs counterpart ChurchKey, since it opened last year. The food has been outstanding while the beer selection clearly speaks for itself, yet we’ve heard rave reviews regarding their brunch for some time and have been dying to try it.
So, what better way to celebrate Rachel completing the Army 10 Miler that morning than eating at a venue that offers toffee-bacon donuts? We felt it was due time to see what all the Sunday afternoon hype was all about.
Their infamous special is called the Boozy Brunch, which for $30 includes donut holes, two drinks, any entree, and unlimited coffee or tea. This is quite a deal, but considering it was still early and we knew that we would be drinking later that day to watch some football, we ultimately passed on the offer. We did get some tasty Bloody Mary’s and mimosas though.
We started our meal off with a plate of their freshly-fried donuts which ranged from lemon-poppy glazed to bittersweet chocolate to the aforementioned toffee-bacon. All of them were delicious, but the bacon donut might have been our favorite given how well the sweet and salty combination worked. Everything tastes better with bacon, right?
One strange thing that happened was that several of us ordered coffee, and it seemed that the coffee that our friends Jim and Livya received was brewed without using a coffee filter as the bottom of the cups were full of grinds. We pointed it out to the waiter and he apologized and seemed embarrassed by it, and quickly replaced the coffees with fresh ones.
For our entrées, I went with the house-brined corned beef hash. Topped with fried duck eggs, the corned beef was succulent yet was lacking a kick. In my opinion, it really needed some spice to bring out the flavor. I’m not one to ask for hot sauce, but I was nearly compelled to which was rather unfortunate.
On the other hand, the duck eggs were fantastic. The egg whites were not runny at all, and because duck eggs are larger than your typical chicken egg, the presentation nearly covered the entire plate of hash! These could honestly be a meal in themselves, and then when you factor in all the corned beef hash below it, you have yourselves quite a meal.
Rachel ordered what seemed to be their signature brunch offering, chicken and waffles. Brett had this dish at nearby Marvin a few years ago for dinner, and it does seem like a heavy meal to start the day off with, but she simply could not resist. After running 10 miles in a great time (under 90 minutes!), she felt she deserved it.
And it was quite the reward indeed. A full waffle cut into four pieces with lightly drizzled syrup and pecans on top, next to three boneless pieces of perfectly fried chicken. It was a completely indulgent and delicious dish. She made sure to eat every forkful with a piece of chicken and waffle together, and it was the perfect combination of sugar and salt.
We were stuffed after that and didn’t eat much the rest of the day. Many hours later, we were still thinking how good our dishes were, and if only we lived slightly closer to this beloved establishment.