The scene: 6:30 pm on a Friday, at ChurchKey. After spending an hour and a half at the bar, where I saw it go from pretty crowded, but able to get a table for 3 at 5, to so packed I had to squeeze through the sea of people to get to the bathroom, it was time to leave. Before we even finished paying our check, a couple had scored dibs on our table. And, when exiting, I was completely shocked to see not only that the bar was at capacity at 6:30 pm, but there was already a line, at least 20 or 30 deep out the door, waiting to get in. AT 6:30 PM.

So yeah, the anticipation for ChurchKey/Birch and Barley was high, and it’s ridiculously popular now that it’s finally opened. Unbelievably so. You’ve certainly seen all the pretty photos of the interior, and heard about the beer list (PDF file). The beer I had was good, the list was nice (though I was surprised how many pretty common beers  – such as Brooklyn Lager, Allagash White, and Troegs Hopback Amber Ale they had on draft).

The food menu was enticing, but the items we actually ordered we weren’t completely impressed with. We ordered the green eggs and ham (which was actually deviled duck eggs with duck pancetta) – unfortunately we didn’t really like it. First of all, I don’t think they were duck eggs, I’ve bought duck eggs before and they are bigger than chicken’s, with especially bigger yolks. These just looked like regular old chicken eggs. And duck pancetta? I’m not even sure what that actually is, but either way it tasted burnt. However, the arranici caprese we had was quite good. Then again, how can you mess up fried risotto balls?

So, yeah, ChurchKey is as ridiculously popular and crowded as you’ve heard, if not more so. If you want to go, go early and during the week. I look forward to trying their sister restaurant, Birch and Barley on the first floor, sometime soon. I’ll be sure to write about it when I do.