Founding Farmers

By Ben Adler

I’m not one to usually praise the dining options in D.C. And with good reason. But I’ve been twice now to a very solid restaurant called Founding Farmers. Granted, they made us wait 20 minutes past our reservation time for a table. And, granted, the service both times has left much to be desired. Forgotten appetizers, and no returning to offer a second drink are only two of the offenses. But D.C. restaurants always have bad service unless they are over-priced tourist traps.

At least at Founding Farmers the food is good. I cannot be bothered to remember what their shtick is (organic? it’s certainly not locally grown, it’s not a seasonal menu.) What I can remember is that the food is tasty in an unfussy way. The bacon lollies — they are cooked with brown sugar, are decadently scrumptious. The short rib was superb, as was my cousin’s pot roast, and my salad. Don’t get the roast beef, which is underwhelming. But I appreciated the extensive and reasonably priced menu, and saw any number of things I would like to go back and try. Hopefully they’ll remember to bring them to me.

7 responses to “Founding Farmers

  1. No joke, this post showed up in my feed right after an Atlantic food post that states in the first line “Does Local Have to be mediocre? Take Founding Farmers, a hip locavore spot in D.C. The eco-friendly ethos is great; the food is not.” Awwkwarrdd.

    http://food.theatlantic.com/everybodys-a-critic/founding-farmers-solid-but-uninspired.php

  2. Q: What’s the only way the IFA could be better?

    A: If they invited Zeke Emmanuel to write a guest post.

    (I’m guessing Zeke probably has enough going on with the whole working in the White House thing, but he does find time for the Atlantic, so why not you guys?)

  3. I ate at Founding Farmers last weekend and thought it was very good. The prosciutto flatbread was excellent (I should probably note that my parents make the prosciutto, so I’m a bit partial; although that also means my standards for dishes with prosciutto are high). The farmer’s tea (sweet tea) was also great (sweetened with honey). It seems like Emmanuel’s problem was with the style: pretty simple, classic American cooking. It’s not super fancy, but it’s also not really all that expensive ($20 entree level).

  4. Aceckhouse,
    My dad got the prosciutto flatbread and raved about it. Pace Arlene, there’s a difference between good and great. I wasn’t stunned. It wouldn’t be a big deal in NY. But it’s a good restaurant, and some of the dishes are very reasonably priced.

  5. It seems to me that both this review and the Atlantic review are a bit unfair. At least here, Adler has been twice, but to not do any research (“I cannot be bothered to remember what their shtick is” seems to be not much effort, since the waiters generally tell you about the communal owners, the LEED aspects of the restaurant, the nature of the food’s origin, etc.) seems to be brazenly unconcerned with the review. As well, claiming that all of Washington’s service is poor is so general and unqualified that it becomes a meaningless criticism, and is really a front for mere attitude. As a Washingtonian, I find it offensive and a trait that only non-Washingtonians seems to have. Ain’t it fun to make faces at the “provincial” folks? Bleh.
    I have eaten at FF and have very much enjoyed it; the scallops are wonderful, by the way. And yeah, only vegetarians don’t like the bacon lollies.

  6. For any “locavores”, Food Matters, Alexandria > Founding Farmers, DC

    The former is “the real deal” for supporting local farmers.

    At Founding Farmers, which I *really* wanted to like, the concept is merely a marketing strategy. When I ate there in February, the flavor of the mostly CA and Florida-grown cuisine was decent, a solid option before a show at the Lisner auditorium. But it’s not at all worth the trek for anyone seeking a venue that celebrates VA/MD/DC-grown ingredients. That you will find elsewhere.

  7. Since I live in Foggy Bottom – I go to Founding Farmers more than the average DCer. The reasonable prices are the real reason I keep going back. For under $20 I can have a better than average dinner – and try something different each visit.

    The salami and ricotta flatbread is a favorite, as is the signature salad with hidden figs is incredible. I actually prefer their sandwiches and appetizers to their most expensive entrees as far a new, interesting tastes.

    my real pet peeve — every dish – from their burger to their sirloin comes on the same ugly plate. if there was one thing i learned from my hours of iron chef- is that presentation matters for about 25% of the overall score.

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