“Birch & Barley” Inspired Cucumber Melon Salad

“Let’s get out of here and live our life,” I typed to Himself on Facebook. He in one room, I in the other, both on Facebook dwindling a hot Saturday afternoon while all three kids were out of the house. What? Are you kidding me? It is so easy to lazy away a day in front of screens, watching others live their lives as we sit and wish it were us trekking across Italy, or at the beach, or buying a new car. So we jumped up, got in the car and spent the afternoon into the evening at two places recommended to us by my cousin who is a Belgium beer importer. ChurchKey DC upstairs to Birch & Barley was where we started our night with some beers and a small plate of Potato Croquettes- I always need a little food when I have a drinky-poo. I was so pleased they had 4 ounce servings of beer as that is about all I can handle! Himself had a smoky beer that was like drinking bacon. Not my kind of beer. But I had a nice light and crispy glass of Allagash. Perfect.

That little beer gave me a pretty good appetite, so after pumping more change into the parking meter, we headed downstairs to Birch & Barely for dinner. The atmosphere was relaxing with its wood, brick, and stone features highlighted by flickering candlelight. What impressed me more so than my dinner, which was a spectacular pasta dish, was the Cucumber Melon Salad that was so refreshing and bursting with flavor that I asked the server for the recipe. While he did not give her exact measurements, the chef did let her in on how it was prepared. With a few substitutes, I got close enough, and Himself and I had it again with our dinner last night.

The surprising combination of dill, basil, and spearmint fostered a new flavor combination in each bite, as if eating an entirely different salad with each forkful.

Cucumber Melon Salad
1 cup diced cantaloupe
1 cup diced honeydew melon
1 cup sliced and halved cucumber
1 T. spearmint leaves
1 T. small basil leaves
1 T. small dill springs
3 T. olive oil
1 T. white balsamic vinegar
pinch Kosher salt
1/2 cup Marcona almonds, toasted

In a large bowl toss fruit with herbs. Whisk together oil, vinegar, and salt and toss gently with fruit. To toast nuts, place in a hot dry skillet and heat until the nuts just start to brown and release their aroma. Top salad with nuts.

If you are ever in DC and want to have access to 500+ bottled beers, an educated staff who can pair any of your dishes with the perfect beer or wine, an ever-changing fresh menu, and creative and beautifully presented food, give Birch & Barley a try.


  1. schvin
    Posted July 26, 2011 at 9:00 AM | Permalink

    Sounds really good!

    We have been to Churckey a few times but have not made it downstairs to B&B yet. Will definitely try it out!

  2. Sabrina
    Posted July 26, 2011 at 9:09 PM | Permalink

    Isn't it fun to go on a date to somewhere new. Good for you two.

  3. Biz
    Posted July 27, 2011 at 8:33 AM | Permalink

    Glad you guys had a date night! That salad sounds amazing, love all the combinations of flavors – I think I will make this as a side dish for me and my SIL next week!

  4. Neil Butterfield
    Posted July 27, 2011 at 8:54 AM | Permalink

    The salad sounds awesome and kudos to you for getting out while you had the chance. It is so easy to get trapped behind the PC.

  5. oneordinaryday
    Posted July 27, 2011 at 9:54 AM | Permalink

    Sounds like a great evening!

    I posted your red cabbage salad today. Jim and I can't get enough of it and have had it a few times already. So good! Thanks for another great dish, Robin Sue. 🙂

    • Posted June 20, 2012 at 5:48 AM | Permalink

      What a palesrue to meet someone who thinks so clearly

  6. highplainsdrifters
    Posted July 27, 2011 at 11:39 AM | Permalink

    Will have to add B&B to my list. Haven't been back east in ages, overdue for a trip home.

    That salad looks summerific. Rocky Ford melons are just now showing up at the market. Can eat them breakfast, lunch and dinner.


  7. Coconut
    Posted July 31, 2011 at 6:30 PM | Permalink

    Hi Robin Sue,

    What a delightful description of your fun night out with Himself.

    The establishments sound lovely.

    This recipe for a mouth-watering, cool, crisp salad is perfect for these dog days of summer.

    Good for you both for making time for just the two of you, and making it a special event.

    Belgian beer is one of my favorites. How lucky you have someone in the family with such connections. 🙂

    Thanks for another great recipe.

  8. Lori
    Posted August 2, 2011 at 10:27 PM | Permalink

    That sounds absolutely amazing!

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