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Blurry chossom festival.

The cherry blossoms are out in D.C., which means, among other things, the weather's OK enough for me to walk to a bar in Logan Circle. Churchkey (1337 14th St NW, elite former site of Hamburger Mary's) has been open for awhile, and all reviews of it might as well close with "You know who would really dig this place? Pete." It's got a long and ever-changing beer list, a dark but inviting bar, gussied-up hamburgers, and helpful but unobsequious staff. On the page of my moleskine listing criteria for excellent neighborhood bar, these all appear. On the back of that page is a list of criteria that prevent bars from being good is "hell of far away from a metro stop," "crowded even on weeknights," and "pretentious (crowd)." Churchkey, I'd heard, was pushing it on all three. You can't entirely blame the bar for its patrons, of course. Hey, I like some Phish songs.
Photography lesson 1: Take photos with adequate light. Lesson 2: Sober.

So a dude and I walked in the other night after work. We sampled a couple cask ales--the Paradox Smokehead, a beer aged in scotch barrels that was like liquid peat smoke, and Allagash Black, which I've had before but which benefited from the cask ale treatment. The warmer temperature opened up the roast notes in the Belgian-style stout. Borderline fragrant. I also tried the brat burger--made from ground beef, pork, and veal; served with sauerkraut--which was delicious but will be a rare indulgence for me at $16. You can drink and eat there for less, though. Several menu items are under $10 and a handful of draft beers are $5 (the best bargain cask ale was from Oliver's in Baltimore and was $6, although sample pours can be had for less). Our server was informed, patient, and busy. Speakers played Pitchfork-friendly indie rock (I heard the Pains). We tried other beers, too; the menu is organized less by esoteric style than by taste--crisp, roast, hops. A pint of Victory Prima Pils reminded me that it's my favorite beers--drinkable in any season, never too heavy or too light.
As the time passed and the sun set, the light through the floor-to-ceiling front windows dimmed. The crowd got more crowded, and people hovered over our bar table as I signed the check. The positives definitely outweigh the negatives at Churchkey, at least in the early evening. Will return, but I may eat a handful of pretzels beforehand so I'm not tempted to order another $16 burger.

1 comment:

igotmoxie said...

the $10 brisket sammich i had there a few weeks ago is definitely in my top 10 (maybe 5) sandwiches of all time