Archive | January, 2011

American Tap Room at Reston Town Center

31 Jan

After watching our friend referee Herndon High School’s basketball game, we grabbed some dinner at American Tap Room in nearby Reston. While Rachel has been to their Bethesda location for lunch before, this was my first-ever foray into the ATR brand.

We already had a reservation, so despite the busy Friday night crowd, we had no problems securing a table.

Crab Cakes

One of the gimmicks American Tap Room incorporates is electronically illuminated menus.

Now, these might be a great idea in theory, but when the house lights are already dim, my retinas were basically screaming in pain. Sure, I may sound like an 80 year old who was three hours late to the early bird special, but seriously, these menus were BRIGHT.

Maryland Crab SoupGiven the name of the restaurant, the drink list at American Tap Room did not disappoint. Their draft selection leaves a little to be desired, but as for bottles, I was impressed. And while they were out of Abita Amber, they at least had my beloved Turbodog in stock. Non-Montgomery County prices were a plus, too.

As for the food, well, it was underwhelming to say the least.

I wasn’t too hungry, so I opted for a turkey burger. Judging by the menu’s description, it sounded a lot more appetizing on paper than it did on the plate. Then again, I don’t typically order turkey burgers to begin with, but there was nothing listed that really stood out to me, so turkey burger it was.

It turned out to be very bland and tasted like it was cooked on a griddle instead of a grill given that I felt like I was chewing on some congealed fat and grease with each bite. I mean, we’ve cooked Trader Joe’s chili-lime chicken burgers at home that were much better than this.

American Tap Room's Illuminated MenuRachel ordered the single crab cake dinner and was a little surprised when her dish arrived with two crab cakes sitting on the plate. Now, she’s not one to complain about more crab cakes, but she certainly didn’t want to pay for two when she had only ordered one.

When she told the waiter the error, he acted like she had asked for two and wasn’t very apologetic. He didn’t bother bringing a new dish with just one, and said that he would just take the difference off the bill. That was fine (can’t beat a bonus crab cake, I suppose) but she should have received what she asked for, and there would not have been a problem in the first place.

Rachel and I came to the conclusion that this would be a great place for happy hour and to get some drinks with some friends, but that would be the extent of our visit. The food was very average, and if anything, I would just order some appetizers next time around.

American Tap Room on Urbanspoon

Pubbelly: The South Beach Asian Gastropub

26 Jan

While on vacation last week, we had the opportunity to meet up with our friend Rinat and go out to dinner while we were in South Beach.

Now when one thinks of Southern Florida, gastropubs are probably not the first thing that crosses your mind, let alone ones with Asian influences.

Yet Pubbelly successfully fills this void with perhaps some of the most unique, delicious cuisine in the entire city.

Short rib tartar with quail egg

Take for instance the McBelly: succulent, barbecued porkbelly sliders served with pickles and onions atop a fluffy potato bun. It was simply fantastic.

Given the name of the restaurant, most of the dishes prominently feature the aforementioned ingredient, but why stray away from a good thing, right?

That’s not to say Pubbelly doesn’t perform well with non-pork belly plates, such as the duck and pumpkin dumplings or the bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with chorizo and goat cheese.

McBellyBacon-wrapped dates stuffed with chorizo and goat cheeseSalt and Pepper Squid

Meanwhile the short rib tartar with quail egg was stellar while the salt and pepper squid was, well, a little too salty. The pork belly with bok choy and butterscotch was decadent but a little too sweet for our taste.

Our favorite dish of the night, however, might have been the beef cheek dumplings with foie gras mousse. While the dumplings are more like ravioli, the beef was so incredibly tender that the entire thing pretty much melted in your mouth.

Duck and pumpkin dumplingsPork belly with bok choy and butterscotchBeef cheek dumplings with foie gras mousse

And for dessert? We decided on the soft-serve yogurt brownie sundae with caramel sauce topped with, you guessed it, crunchy bacon bits! What a great finale of salty and sweet.

Pubbelly is a real gem and we’re so glad that we were fortunate enough to dine at such an excellent establishment during the one night we were in Miami. Well done all around.

Pubbelly on Urbanspoon

Nest Cafe: Beyond the Row

24 Jan

If you are in Bethesda and looking for a quiet spot away from the bustle of Bethesda Row, I would highly recommend Nest Café.

It is located on Bethesda Avenue on the other side of Arlington Road right behind Giant. While it is easy to overlook some of these places due to the proximity of the numerous restaurants found at nearby Bethesda Row, Nest is a great option for lunch, dinner, drinks, or brunch that won’t break the bank.

I met a few friends there recently and we had no problems getting a table since it wasn’t too crowded. Aside from their regular menu, they also offer daily specials as well as a “Bento Business Lunch.”

Bento Business Lunch

For $9.95, diners can choose a salad, soup, and half sandwich from several selections and is served in a three-square presentation for a complete lunch. If you are tired of Sweetgreen or Taylor Deli and want more of a sit-down meal, Nest is a great alternative.

I decided to go with the French onion soup, Senora salad, and grilled chicken sandwich combination. It was the perfect portion, and especially great for someone like me who can never make a decision on what to order.

The lunch and dinner menu at Nest is the same, with the highest priced entrees set at $14.95. They offer salads, sandwiches, brick-oven pizzas, and pasta entrees. Nest also has great weekly deals such as “Hump Day” burgers and fries for $5.95 (carry out only), half-price bottles of wine on Mondays and Tuesdays, and live music on Fridays and Saturdays.

One great feature about their brunch is their build-your-own Bloody Mary bar: you check off your ingredient selections on a sheet and the bartender then makes your concoction for you.

I have to admit that I sometimes forget about Nest myself given the location, but I’ll definitely be back, especially for their lunch special. It also will give me an excuse to stop by Cork 57 and see what seasonal beers they have in stock.

Nest is located on 4921 Bethesda Avenue in downtown Bethesda.

Nest Cafe on Urbanspoon

Maki Maki: Quality Sushi, Affordable Prices

19 Jan

Whenever Rachel and I are in the mood for ordering sushi, Maki Maki is generally our go-to option.

Located at the corner of Wisconsin and Highland Avenue in Bethesda, Maki Maki isn’t nearly the size of fellow sushi competitor Tako Grill, located just a few blocks down the street, nor does it carry the popularity of Raku, or even the conveyor-belt gimmickry of Matuba. And yet, despite all these perceived disadvantages, it stands up in its own right.

Sashimi Appetizer

Maki Maki is simply a straightforward sushi restaurant that probably does more business with carryout and delivery versus dining in. But it is the quality and the prices that really make it stand out amongst its Bethesda competitors.

Their standard rolls start out at a very reasonable $3.95, while adding brown rice will cost you just a dollar more. Specialty rolls, such as the Dragon Roll, usually start at $6.95 and up.

Rainbow Roll

But compared to a place like Tako Grill, where the rolls are generally smaller while the prices are higher, Maki Maki is a fantastic value. Granted the former is more authentic than the latter, but if you’re just looking for good sushi at a decent price, Maki Maki would be the default choice.

Rachel and I ordered four rolls: California, Shrimp Tempura, Tuna, and, lastly, the Rainbow Roll. We also split a sashimi appetizer and miso soup. The total came out to $35, and it obviously would have been less had we subbed the Rainbow for one of their more basic rolls, but we’ll call that our splurge for the evening.

California, Tuna, and Shrimp Tempura Rolls

The portions were rather generous as the rolls were stuffed with their respective ingredients. Meanwhile, the sashimi featured several large cuts of fresh fish, and for $6.95, it was quite the bargain.

Maki Maki is located on 8023 Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Bethesda.

Maki Maki on Urbanspoon

First Look: Cava Grill in Bethesda

17 Jan

Rachel and I had the opportunity this past weekend to check out Cava Grill, the fast-casual offshoot of the popular Cava Mezze restaurants, scheduled to open this Tuesday in Bethesda Row.

Located in a prime location on Bethesda Avenue, Cava Grill is targeting visitors looking for authentic, freshly-prepared Greek cuisine in a time and budget-conscious setting.

Think of it as a Greek spinoff of Chipotle.

Cava Grill

Diners first decide how they want their meal constructed as they have a choice of their food being prepared in a pita, bowl with Basmati rice, three open-faced mini pitas, or a salad.

You then have a selection of dips and spreads to choose from, ranging from tzatziki to hummus to their contagious “Crazy Feta” (feta fused with jalapeno). Patrons can choose as many spreads as they want, although it is recommended to use two at most in order to avoid contesting flavors.

Cava Grill InteriorCava Grill MenuCava Grill Interior

The next step is selecting your protein. Options include chicken, ground sirloin, lamb, Loukaniko (pork sausage), or falafel.  All the meats are seasoned and grilled while the falafel is prepared in-house. Cava Grill also offers a veggie option without using any meat or falafel.

After that, you can top off your creation with diced cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, shredded red cabbage, romaine lettuce, and of course, feta cheese.

Minis Platter

I ordered a chicken pita with hummus and eggplant & red pepper spread, and then topped it off with shredded cabbage, diced onions, and feta.

I took my first bite as the pita was overflowing with ingredients. While I may have overdone it on the spreads, it was still a very delicious wrap. Everything just tasted so fresh but didn’t leave me feeling full to the point of reaching a food coma like a burrito typically would.

Rachel ordered the minis platter, mixing and matching her lunch with chicken and hummus, falafel and tzatziki, and lamb and Crazy Feta. She felt the minis offered the proper balance of both variety and portion size.

Chicken pita with hummus and eggplant & red pepper spread

Meanwhile, it’s amazing how fast the space, previously occupied by Organic To Go, has been transformed. Cava Grill installed reclaimed wood which panels the walls and adorns the tabletops, while empty glass bottles are hung from the ceiling. Its modern interior makes the venue appear more upscale yet offers affordable selections.

Cava Grill has also embraced the composting approach used at other eateries such as Sweetgreen. Customers can place all of the restaurant’s disposable items, such as bowl and cutlery, for composting in designated bins.

Cava Grill ExteriorCava Grill InteriorCava Grill Wall Mural

Overall, we expect Cava Grill to be an instant hit when they open this week. Based on Cava’s already established brand in the area as well as their fast-casual approach, it’s hard not to envision them being slammed during lunch hour from nearby office workers in downtown Bethesda, or with families on the weekends.

Cava Grill is located on 4832 Bethesda Avenue and will open to the public this Tuesday.

Cava Mezze Grill on Urbanspoon

AGAINN Tavern in Rockville

13 Jan

While last Saturday’s plans were originally for dinner at a new popular restaurant on Rockville Pike, we ultimately wound up having dinner at another, just a half a mile down the road.

We were initially going to check out Matchbox’s newest location in Rockville, but when we arrived, the place was an absolute madhouse. The foyer was full to the brim while the hostess said the wait for a table would be around two and a half hours!

Rachel had called the restaurant earlier in the week asking if they took reservations, and while they said they did, they did not accept them on Fridays and Saturdays. The hostess, however, said that they do take reservations on those days, which left us a little confused. Needless to say, we quickly exited Matchbox as we weren’t going to waste half our night waiting for a table at a place we had been to many times before (at their original Chinatown location).

Corned Beef Sandwich

Thanks to Rachel’s handy Droid, we were able to book a table for four at nearby AGAINN Tavern for 8pm, giving us half an hour to enjoy one another’s company and unwind from the chaos that was transpiring over at Matchbox.

We met our friends Judy and Dan and were promptly seated.  AGAINN did not appear to be too crowded, so it was quite refreshing to dine at a venue where the decibel levels weren’t blazing.

AGAINN carries a British gastro-pub theme, specializing in traditional English fare while incorporating farm to table principles. Because the restaurant is in Montgomery Country, beer prices unfortunately run a bit higher, but the selection wasn’t bad despite being on the Pike. I kid, mostly because the place took over the Houston’s space.

Anyway, our waiter, who was a little on the eccentric side, took our orders after we got some drinks. I went with the roasted chicken. When it arrived, I was enthralled by the generous portion which further accentuated the reasonable price of the entrée ($19).

Accompanied with carrots and a watercress salad, the chicken was, and I hate to use the term that shares the same name with a Peruvian chicken shop down the street, “crisp and juicy”. Coupled with the fact that they pretty much served the entire bird, I was more than satisfied to say the least.

Roasted Chicken

Rachel decided to get a dish that she normally wouldn’t order, which was the housemade corned beef sandwich. I’m usually the one that orders entrees like that while she tries a bite or two, but given restaurant’s reputation for British comfort food, she could not resist. And did it turn out to be a good choice.

The sandwich came on a brioche bun with housemade pickles and horseradish cream on the side. The corned beef was so thick that it looked more like a filet than the thin sliced meat we’re used to seeing served up in traditional delis. You could tell how tender it was when biting into the sandwich as the meat immediately melted into the bun. A nice touch was pickled cauliflower to round out the meal.

AGAINN turned out to be a solid choice when it was all said and done. Everyone was pleased with how their meal turned out, and while our waiter wasn’t the most gracious of hosts, we would definitely come back. It’s nice to see that Rockville Pike actually has a restaurant with an identity as opposed to the countless chains that line the highway.

Bear in mind that, while having the same name as its sister restaurant in downtown DC, the Rockville menu is slightly varied as the DC version appears to be a little more upscale. This means we may have to check out the downtown location to compare, but we will certainly be back to AGAINN, um, again.

Againn Tavern on Urbanspoon

Opening Week Dinner at Smith Commons

12 Jan

The Atlas District continues to revitalize the Northeast neighborhood with the addition of another restaurant, this time in the form of a gorgeous three-story bistro dubbed Smith Commons.

We were very enthusiastic about Smith Commons’ opening not only because it provides the area with another eatery, but also because of its diverse food and beverage menu, particularly their impressive beer selection.

Confit of Duck Leg

Speaking of beer, we arrived half an hour early for our reservation and took a seat at the bar. Their list of will certainly grab a beer connoisseur’s attention as they offered a range of microbrews. Furthermore, because it was “Smith Hour”, all drafts were just $5. Hell of a deal if you ask me.

Rachel ordered a glass of Great Lakes Eliot Ness while I went with my beloved Ommegang Witte. We were about to pay the bartender the $10 for the tab when a gentleman stepped in and requested that he pay for the pint of Eliot Ness. Turns out he was a Great Lakes sales rep! We struck up a conversation as he told us about the Cleveland-based brewery. Not a few moments later, I then order an Eliot Ness for myself. It really is one delicious beer.

The two of us decided to get a bite at the bar since we still had some time to kill before dinner, so we ordered an Eggplant Lasagna appetizer. When it was arrived, the presentation definitely confused me.

The bartender served us a small shallow bowl that was topped with greens. At first, I thought it was a complementary side salad. After digging around with my fork, beneath the greens were layers of grilled eggplant along with creamed spinach and goat cheese crumbles. It was such an unorthodox dish but the combination of ingredients worked tremendously well despite its deceptive façade. I have never had lasagna like that but it proved to be a worthwhile starter. They also served bread with it which I thought was supposed to complement the lasagna, but we had already eaten most of it by the time our dish arrived.

Sea Bass

Once our table was ready we were promptly seated and given the restaurant’s limited opening week menu. The restaurant had just open several days ago, so they offered a promotion of 25% off guests’ final checks, excluding alcohol, tax, and tip of course.

We decided to go right for the entrees since we already had an appetizer and drink at the bar. I ordered the Confit of Duck Leg while Rachel went with the Sea Bass.

The duck was beautifully arranged as the port wine sauce was artfully drizzled around the plate. While the menu said the entrée came with sautéed spring mushrooms, it was instead served with fingerling potatoes. Not that I minded, but I’m just assuming this was one of the kinks they were working out in the kitchen.

As for the confit itself, this was the first time I have had it when it wasn’t served boneless. Now there’s no going back as the meat was even more flavorful coming right off the bone.

Rachel decided on the sea bass, since she can never pass up one of her favorite types of fish. It was seriously one of the biggest cuts we have seen of sea bass before, and each bite melted in her mouth. The only complaint would be that the fish could have used a little more sauce or a crust on it, but it was so flavorful on its own that it didn’t really need it. The dish came with grilled greens, capers, a balsamic basil dressing, and two small potatoes. Even I thought the fish was excellent and I’m pretty picky when it comes to what fish I eat.

Crêpe Mikado

The waitress asked fairly quickly if we were done, and at the time we thought we were, so the check came right away, which we paid for. We thought of possibly going somewhere else nearby for dessert such as Toyland, but while we were sitting in the cozy dining room, we decided to just stay and order dessert at Smith Commons instead of venturing back into the cold.

So, we called back our slightly confused waitress and then concluded the evening with coffee and dessert. After some deliberation over the sweets listed on the menu, we eventually decided on the Crêpe Mikado. Between the warm, thin pastry and even warmer Belgian chocolate sauce, not to mention the vanilla ice cream tucked in the center, the crepe was outstanding. The coffee was even served with a French Press which was a very nice touch.

Overall, Smith Commons is a welcome addition to H Street. It is great to see another restaurant offer moderately priced yet upscale food and drinks, along the lines of The Liberty Tree and Granville Moore’s. All it takes is good cuisine and a clean, well-designed space. Smith Commons succeeds in both.

Smith Commons on Urbanspoon

Unlimited Pre Fixe Brunch at Masa 14

10 Jan

Daily Petite QuicheI recently heard about the deal at Masa 14 for Sunday brunch, and upon first glance, it seemed too good to be true. My friend Livya and I decided to check it out for ourselves and indulge on unlimited tapas and drinks for $35.

We decided to order some drinks first, with Livya choosing the Masa Mimosa while I got the Lychee Bellini. Both were very refreshing and we hardly noticed when they would come by with pitchers to refill. I think we each had about four glasses, but it was hard to tell since the servers never let our glasses go empty.

To start, we ordered the Daily Petite Quiche, Hijiki Seaweed-jicama Salad, Petite Mushroom Escabeche Omelet, Veggie Benedict, Black Bean Puree, and Spiced Tuna Steak. Granted, this may appear like an excessive amount of food, but Masa 14 specializes in Latin-Asian tapas, so these smaller plates are meant to be shared.

Masa Mimosa and Lychee BelliniHijiki Seaweed-jicama SaladPetite Mushroom Escabeche Omelet

Overall, everything was delicious, with some standouts like the seaweed salad, tuna, and omelet. Some of the dishes were definitely heavier than others, and before we knew it, we were getting full with all the plates in front of us.

The rare tuna steak came on a sandwich bun along with a small but thick piece of bacon, avocado, and wasabi. The bread wasn’t really necessary so we discarded it to focus on the high quality piece of fish. The Veggie Benedict was actually a variety of roasted vegetables with a poached egg atop a piece of challah bread. Again, a nice dish but the bread seemed to overpower the rest of it. The black bean puree was a perfect bite with a scoop of the puree with poached egg on a tortilla chip.

Black Bean PureeSpiced Tuna SteakVeggie Benedict

We decided to order a few more items to stretch out our relaxing and gluttonous Sunday. Up next was the Fruit and Granola with yuzu yogurt, the Pan Dulce with ancho whipped cream and pineapple syrup, and to top it off, the Crunchy Shrimp. I know looking at these selections, you might think, “dessert, dessert, and shrimp?” Yes, it definitely did not belong, but with unlimited options to choose from, it was simply too hard to resist. The sesame crusted shrimp came with a chipolti aioli sauce that went perfectly together. We only ate one or two, and then it was on to dessert.

The fruit, granola, and yogurt combo was nice and light, and definitely the healthiest thing we ate all day. The large chunks of homemade granola were nice and crunchy and elevated the dish to more than just a bowl of fruit. The Pan Dulce tasted just like French toast and was a perfect way to end the meal.

Crunchy ShrimpPan DulceFruit and Granola with yuzu yogurt

All in all, brunch at Masa 14 is a great opportunity to try lots of different items on the menu without feeling limited by price. It’s hard to tell how much of a deal it was, since we didn’t individually add up each dish to see if we would have spent as much or less compared to ordering a la carte.

However, the unlimited drinks alone makes the $35 brunch worthwhile. If we went with a larger party we would have been able to try more dishes, but regardless, we undeniably left satisfied. I could potentially see us going with a group of 10 and basically ordering the entire menu, with everyone being able to have more than their fair share of food while already knowing up front what the bill would amount to. Hmm, this year’s birthday idea perhaps?

Masa 14 on Urbanspoon

Bethesda Restaurant Week 2011 is Coming Up!

7 Jan

Just a week following DC’s Restaurant Week, Bethesda will take over prix-fixe duties for the Washington metropolitan area.

Starting Monday, January 24 and lasting through Sunday, January 30, diners can visit one of the many Bethesda-area restaurants participating.

Lunch prices will range from $12 to $15 while dinner will cost $30.

Bear in mind that OpenTable only lists participating restaurants that are also partners with the online reservation system, so there are many other venues that will be a part of Bethesda-Chevy Chase Restaurant Week (such as Matuba).

We, of course, will keep you updated on a full list of restaurants once they become available.

Our recommendations? Persimmon, Grapeseed, Redwood, Jaleo, and Food Wine and Co. are all excellent choices.

UPDATE – Courtesy of the Bethesda Urban Partnership, here is a full rundown of restaurants that will be participating in this year’s Bethesda-Chevy Chase Restaurant Week. Bon Appetit!

UPDATE II – Bethesda Restaurant Week has been extended an additional week due to the inclement weather. It will now run through Sunday, February 6. An updated list of participants can be found here.

  • Alfio’s La Trattoria
Lunch $15 & Dinner $28
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30
Dinner, $25
  • Bezu Restaurant
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Lunch $12 & Dinner $25
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
  • Cesco Trattoria
Dinner $30
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30
  • Clyde’s of Chevy Chase
Lunch $15
Dinner $30
Lunch $ 12 & Dinner $30
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30
  • Geppetto Restaurant
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30
  • The Irish Inn at Glen Echo
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
  • La Ferme
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30
Dinner $29
  • Lia’s
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Lunch $12-15 & Dinner $30
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
  • Oakville Grill & Wine Bar
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
  • Old Angler’s Inn
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Dinner $30
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Dinner $30
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Dinner $30
Dinner $30
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
  • Tavira
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30

Another Wonderful Evening at ChurchKey

5 Jan

Over the last year or so, ChurchKey has quickly become our favorite go-to bar in DC. Not only do we love the extensive and creative beer selection, but the bar fare cannot be beat. We already wrote about its sister establishment, Birch & Barley, so this review focuses on the upstairs and ever popular (and crowded) bar.

North Carolina pulled pork BBQ flatbreadWe decided to meet my good friend from high school and her husband at the Logan Circle establishment since they have never been before, and in our opinion, everyone must come to ChurchKey at least once.

We arrived a little after 7 on a Thursday night, so needless to say, it was difficult finding a table at first. We didn’t mind since we had no place to be the next day, so we were able to find a spot near one corner of the bar to get drinks and chat while eyeing tables.

It wasn’t too difficult to order drinks, just a little more pressure when trying to decide from the long list of options when you have to order quickly. I quickly found my drink of choice with the Edmund Fitzgerald from the Great Lakes Brewing Company.

After awhile, I glanced over to one of the tables to see what I thought was a man paying for his check, but no such luck. As I was walking away, I saw the table next to them and sensed that they were leaving. I quickly asked if we could take the table, and less than a minute later, we had our spot!

One of the many reasons it is so hard to find a table at ChurchKey is, once you do score one, you’re unlikely to leave it anytime soon.

Birch & Barley bread plate

Once we were settled, we started making our food selections. We decided to share a few plates since everything looked great. Our friends hadn’t been before, so everything looked good to them, and while we have had the food here several times, there was nothing we wouldn’t try again.

To start, we ordered the disco fries, Arancini, the Birch & Barley bread plate, and, of course, the tots. Yes, it was a lot of fried slash potato things, but admit it, ChurchKey does fried food very well.

Disco fries, Arancini, and totsEverything was, as it has been in the past, delicious. Our only complaint was that the cheese found atop the disco fries was more in chunks rather than fully melted, but that might be because we got the sausage gravy (which was delectable) on the side.

The risotto balls were the perfect balance of creamy and crunchy, and went well with the acorn squash sauce. The bread plate is one of the reasons alone to go for dinner at Birch & Barley since you receive a complimentary version for twice the size. And the tots, well, good as always.

After some digesting, and more beers, naturally, we went for round two and got the North Carolina pulled pork BBQ flatbread as well as the grilled cheese with tomato soup dip. The flatbread was a nice combination with the meat and barbecue sauce with a tangy slaw. The meat was a little dry but the overall flavors went well together.

Grilled CheeseThe grilled cheese, on the other hand, was a little strange. Instead of the bread being grilled, it was instead made with a very dry ciabata bread with a cheese that didn’t quite mesh. It tasted better when dipped in the soup, but the “soup” was served in a very small ramekin, and was barely enough for half the sandwich. It was the only real miss of the night, but five out of six isn’t bad.

Suffice to say, it was yet another successful night at ChurchKey. We would have ordered dessert but, alas, we were stuffed. It’s too bad since I know how good the desserts at ChurchKey/Birch & Barley are. Ah well, there’s always next time.

Any chance we can get an outpost in Bethesda? I know…wishful thinking.

Churchkey on Urbanspoon