Robyn Visits Founding Farmers

dinner at Founding Farmers, originally uploaded by ostenjj.


When I heard about the September opening of the new farm-to-table restaurant Founding Farmers, located at 1924 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, my eyes immediately rolled. Does DC really need another environmental-sustainable-green-flag-waving eatery that claims to only get their food from the happiest of local farm animals frolicking in barnyard paradise? Personally, I don’t care if the pork I’m eating lived a privileged barnyard life filled with arts and crafts classes and knitting groups and eating organic slop. I just care if it was treated humanely and if it’s well-seasoned on my plate.

Though after eating there, I discovered that yes, DC does need to add Founding Farmers on its list of eat-here-before-you-die joints. If at least for the environment’s sake.

First of, it looks cool. A salvaged wood (recovered from a central MD barn) concord greets you in the lobby, presided over by a statue of a sheep, “nicknamed Molly,” giggled the hostess. The bar is made out of recycled concrete, salvaged steel walls line the stairwell leading upstairs, hardwood floors are made from recycled floorboards, and all of the energy used by the restaurant is generated from the wait staff taking turns on stationary bikes hooked into the system. That last one was made up, but all in all, you couldn’t get any greener.

As we were seated next to a salvaged barn wood column, my party was told that the water we were drinking was purified by and in-house filtering system, and served in milk bottles donated by local dairy farmers. The fry grease in the fried green tomatoes you just ordered? “Well,” the waitress beamed, “that is given to a local limousine company for recycling.” Ok, ok – I get it. Founding Farmers is green. The real question is, how’s the food? It’s really quite good. We ordered a lot of their small plates, including the bacon-wrapped dates, the baby cheeseburgers, the cheese plate, and the bacon lollis (bacon on a stick candied with cinnamon and brown sugar). The green tomatoes were hearty, crispy, and tasted fresh despite being placed in a vat of enviro-grease. The cheese plate housed 6 cheeses coming from east-coast dairy farms and explained well by our waitress. And the bacon lollis – well, it was fresh bacon on a stick. For us carnivores, what’s not to like.

Anyone else been to Founding Farmers? What was your experience like?

12 Comment

  • I’ve been twice in the past two weeks. My first visit was inspired by the fact that someone had created something called bacon lollis. I had to try those ASAP.

    The lollis were great (and yeah, lollis is a bit of a misnomer — they are baked or broiled thick pieces of bacon on a stick glazed w/ brown sugar and cinnamon), and so was everything else.

    With regard to the small plates, I’ve also tried the cheese puffs that have this sort of spicy pimiento cheese filling (great), the house-made potato chips w/ dipping sauces (pretty good), and a cheese plate which was okay.

    I’ve only had one entree at FF…it was a cold night and for some reason I decided it would be a good idea to get a chicken pot pie for the first time in 10 years. It was enormous…when it arrived I declared that there was no chance I’d finish it. As I got to the point where I had eaten more than half of it, I told the table, with some shame, that I was definitely going to finish it. It was great.

    One more note — GREAT beer selection if you’re a beer snob like me. I was very happy to see Stone IPA (the best beer in America) on tap, even though they were out of it the first time I went. If you’re a bud-light type of person, then you’re going to be pretty SOL at FF and have to settle for Stella or Amstel.

    The wine selection looks impressive as well.

    Highly recommended.

  • Any clue on the prices?

  • I visited for burgers/drinks and then later in the week for a full dinner with my fam. I have to say, in both cases I was blown away. the burgers melt in your mouth and the meal I had was astounding! I have not experienced service of that level in this city for a long time. Case and point on the service was that we were with my step father who is hard-of-hearing. At one point, the music got boosted to a level suitable for the 930 Club and none of us (let alone my step father) could hear a damned thing. I asked the nearest employee (a bus boy) to take care of it…it was immediately changed and a few minutes later the manager came over and apologized and explained that it was his fault, and that he got a little carried away because he wanted to hear the one song that had come on. It was far more fuss than necessary to correct the issue (really, we would have been happy without the apology…but it was a nice touch). Our waters were never empty and the server actually waited until we had tasted our food before asking if it was ok! Further, we sat and chatted on a saturday night for way too long, and never were we hassled about clearing out their table! The drink selection was awesome (great beers, great variety of scotch!). Prices were reasonable…obviously not a cheap spot, but not overly expensive either, in my experience. I would go there again and again and would take people I wanted to impress there!

    On another note, we found out that one of the co-ops that supplies FF is Tuscarora from PA…they also sell some wares at the Adam’s Morgain farmers market through Star Hollow farm…which is where we buy our produce as well. It was somehow great for me to know the farms where FF gets some of their food, and to trust that source. I never really considered food supply for restuarants, but it really made a difference to me.


  • sounds fun – i wanna go*

  • I’ve only been for lunch and I think the prices are great. Usually when I pay $10 for a lunch sandwich I leave feeling unfulfilled. Not so at FF! My first time there I ordered the egg salad sandwich and I gotta tell you, its one of the best I’ve ever had. And theoretically large enough for two sandwiches, but like Markus it was so good I couldn’t stop eating.

    The second time I went I got the pan fried chicken. I had just gotten back from Nashville and was bummed we hadn’t gotten to go to this one southern place that was supposed to be amazing. FF more than made up for it – I had two pieces of fried chicken, mac and cheese and waffles. I stuffed myself silly and I can’t wait to go back!

  • I must say that the selection of dishes for vegetarians is disappointing. From the description of the restaurant, it seems as if it would be amazing for veggies, but when you get there it is a bit disappointing. The wine selection is fair and they have organic wines.

  • I was there just the other day for dinner with my family. It’s now officially my new favorite DC restaurant. It had everything going for it, the drinks, the food, the atmospher, and an amazing wait staff.

    I got there early so I sat at the bar and had one of their specialty cocktails, and it was pretty good.

    I had the special soup of the night, New England clam chowder, to start. It was definitely the best chowder I ever had, hands down. It was perfectly seasoned and flavorful. My boyfriend got the deviled eggs, which were also amazing. My dad had some sliders which really could have been a meal in and of themselves. They were very cute and well cooked. Then I had butternut squash ravioli. To die for. My boyfriend had the prime rib — and it was enormous! He ended up having to have some of it put in a box for him, which they very kindly did.

    I am so impressed with this place. For a nice restaurant in DC, the portions were very, very generous. And it was about 25% cheaper than going to your average fancy pants dc restaurant. It also has the bonus of being very vegetarian friendly. I noticed that along with the pricier items on the menu, they had sandwiches and other items were were really reasonable. ($10-15 dollar plates) I love that you don’t have to be a big spender to enjoy amazing food.

  • i have only been there once, and our service was terribly slow. of course, it was only a couple weeks after opening, so i guess they still had bugs to work out. not much in the way of vegetarian selections outside of the usuals, but that’s par for the course for DC restaurants, i’ve found.

  • i was incredibly underwhelmed when i ate there 3 weeks ago. i will say that the spacve is awesome, waitstaff was excellent and properly attentive without being obnoxious, and the bacon wrapped dates were remarkable. the wine list has some nice choices. but the rest of the food…well, everything else i sampled there was mediocre at best. the fried chicken was barely a cut above popeyes, the mac and cheese was greasy and didn’t taste like real cheese, the meatloaf was dry, and strangely served with a side of sawmill gravy (while already smothered in what looked and tasted like congealed beef drippings but purportedly was “Worchestershire au jus”). the $9 basket of potato chips (yes, $9) consisted of about a dozen greasy chips and two strange dips which were under-flavored. blandness also affected the deviled eggs–we had both the traditional and the lobster/crab/salmon eggs, and both were…boring.

    i really wanted to like this spot, but i have to say, i doubt i’d go back. for the prices, i can eat much better elsewhere.

  • Awesome – have the carrot cake for dessert – it is the absolute best dessert I have ever had in my entire life. Also, they have a bar chef. His name is Jon Arroyo and he has worked for the likes of the Rainbow Room. He is a student of David Wondrich who is a cocktail historian and chef. He has an amazing knowledge of cocktails and an eye for unusual and sustainable liquor. Really enjoyed chatting with him – and having a few of his creations.

    Make reservations early. I tried to go to dinner with some friends and called for reservations three weeks in advance for a Thursday night and couldn’t get in. Just goes to show you that when you have a good concept at a fair price, recession be damned, people will come.

  • I just wanted to chime in and thank you all for your comments about the restaurant. My team is working diligently every day to make Founding Farmers a great restaurant that you can trust and enjoy. I am so thankful for the positive comments, as we print them up and share them with our staff during daily shift meetings. I am equally interested in the constructive criticism, as all your insights and perspectives are valuable to us! I would love more feedback from anyone disappointed in our vegetarian options (we did add a few items two weeks ago specifically for vegetarians)–and any specific suggestions of vegetarian dishes you would like to see would be great. I notice some posters feel we have good veggie options, while some others are disappointed; the specifics will help us improve. Thank you for caring enough to post your thoughts–we get a lot of feedback from blogs like this, and also and positive reviews have a tremendous impact on the business. You can send me feedback directly through best regards, dan simons, founding farmers.

  • went there friday night for the first time. great service, great atmosphere. i wasn’t super impressed by the butternut squash ravioli, but the menu is very expansive, so when i go back i’ll just try something else

Comments are closed.