click to enlarge The blackboard in the bar at Birch & Barley features an ever changing array of liquid refreshment.
The blackboard in the bar at Birch & Barley features an ever changing array of liquid refreshment.

How many restaurants have a good sense of humor? Pullman’s Birch & Barley is one of a few. Utensils are delivered with the statement, “your weapons.” The check comes in an elegant brown envelope labeled, “The Damage.”

These fun asides add ambiance to comely American cuisine and what has to be one of the most extensive drink menus in the Quad Cities. One can find the changing highlights of that menu on a large blackboard in the bar. On the night I was there it was headlined with a quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin, “There cannot be good living where there is not good drinking.”

Aged whisky is served in flights. Vodka comes in forms such as House Infused Vodka Ice Shots ($3) and a Moscow Mule served in a traditional copper mug ($8). Cocktails change with the seasons. At the tail end of winter I ordered a Ginger Collins ($8), a sweet gingery twist on a Tom Collins. It went well with an appetizer of mussels steamed in onions, butter, garlic and parsley finished with Chardonnay ($10.95). When I told the server the broth was so good I wanted to drink it he replied, “I wouldn’t judge you.”

click to enlarge Steamed Mussels finished with Chardonnay.
Steamed Mussels finished with Chardonnay.

Cougar Gold cheese headlines the Cougar Burger ($9.95) and Cougar Lobster Mac ($13.95) and a Northwest Steelhead Fillet comes with local beluga lentils ($15.95). However, fare strays farther afield in dishes like the Cajun Boil with crawfish, snow crab, shrimp, and Andouille sausage boiled with spices and potatoes ($21.95); and Shrimp or Crawfish Etouffee ($14.95). The lobster beer battered in Palouse Falls Stout and served with sweet bourbon dipping sauce that passed by looked like it could subdue any night of “good living.”

Birch & Barley, 1360 Bishop Blvd., Pullman (509) 332-0108.

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