Art and I have been fairly loyal customers of Churchkey and Birch and Barley since they opened. Honestly, it’s the first place that we’ve wanted to go to on a regular basis (and frequently) in years. The last time we had a “home” like that, we lived on the Hill and hung out at Hawk and Dove. Our Hawk and Dove days are long behind us, and really no other bars or restaurants had that “third place” vibe for us until Churchkey came along.
We’re big craft beer people, and we love good food. That’s the magic mix that Churchkey/Birch and Barley have. The staff there is also awesome and super friendly, which really helps too. These days a lot of the staff knows us on sight, and by name. It makes it really fun to be there. Personally, I love the overall vibe of the place too. It just feels right.
But with all the great places popping up around DC, we thought we’d venture out. So last night, we hit the very recently opened Meridan Pint (good pics on Lagerheads Facebook Page). The first thing we noticed was the staff. It’s clearly staffed with Churchkey alumni, so the place felt kind of homey right away. The beer menu was respectable (24ish taps) of good craft brew. They focus on American craft beer, so it was kind of sad/disappointing to see Miller Light and PBR on the menu. Guess they decided to cater to the groundlings a bit. We had a few brews, my favorite being the Summer Solstice cream ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company.
The most impressive thing about the menu was the real selection of vegetarian food. I’m not a vegetarian, but my relationship with meat is complicated and I very infrequently order it at a restaurant. Most places do a passing nod to vegetarian food, especially beer places. That’s why I was so impressed with the menu. Art had the seasonal chilled pea soup, which was freaking awesome and I wish I had ordered it, and the grilled polenta with wilted arugula. The polenta was also awesome, but the arugula was bit too old and bitter for him. (no comments about the wife, please).
I had the fried tofu with chili sauce, which was amazing — but gave me this rapid fire sudden heartburn. Seriously. It was crazy. I ordered the seitan kabobs for dinner, but the heartburn kind of killed my appetite. The kabobs were good, but not great. I’m not a huge seitan fan, and I think it was just a little too much for me. The grilled tomatoes on the kabobs were good, but there were too few of them and too many onions. A mushroom or two would have balanced it better.
We still had home made sour cherry pie at home, so we skipped dessert. We did take a quick peek at the downstairs bar, which we’d heard about. Yes — there are a couple of tables with taps built in. It had a couple of pool tables and some cozy little seating areas.
All in all, a good meal with great service and great beer. We’ll definitely be back.