America the Edible at Founding Farmers in Washington, DC
April 13, 2014
WASHINGTON, DC, US – From amber waves of grain to the fruited plain, one of the most celebrated aspects of America is its fertile farming heritage. We are, in fact, a nation founded by farmers, given that George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison all tended the soil in one way or another during their lifetimes. That’s right: they were farm-to-tablers way before farm-to-table dining was hip and chic.
So it makes sense that Founding Farmers−a restaurant in DC‘s Foggy Bottom named for this patriotic agrarian phenomenon−would bring the best farm-fresh bounty into its cutting-edge kitchen. The restaurant is owned by a collective of real-deal American family farmers, so this ain’t no gimmick! Ingredients are local, seasonal, sustainable, and organic whenever possible, and when they procure something like, say, biodynamic Chilean wine from afar, they purchase carbon offsets to reduce the environmental impact.
The eco-consciousness really pays off on the plate. The kitchen turns out scrumptious American standards with the freshest produce, dairy products, wild-caught fish, and humanely raised meats. Juicy burgers and chili dogs, plus classics like Yankee pot roast or pan-fried chicken and waffles, make for hearty entrees. While carnivores will flip for these dishes as well as treats like bacon lollipops and crab cakes, vegetarians will have an awfully fine time here as well.
On the meatless front, we love starting out with the fried green tomatoes (with cornmeal batter and herb goat cheese) or the simply delicious skillet corn bread with honey butter and sea salt. The farmer’s salad is a cornucopia of seasonal lettuces, veggies, fruits, and nuts. One of the restaurant’s specialties is “farm breads,” which are thick-cut ciabatta rolls topped with a variety of veg-friendly toppings like brie, onion jam, and sliced apples. Fresh pastas and veggie entree choices like the grilled cauliflower steak are super satisfying.
You might think that cooking this wholesome would have a homespun atmosphere to match. The décor does indeed nod to the farmhouse, but it’s more “urban loft meets barnyard chic” than straight-up rustic. While the floors are made of reclaimed woods, there’s plenty of glass, steel, and glossy surfaces to make this a more upscale organic dining experience. George Washington University and the IMF are just next door, so the tall wood rafters and concrete bar draw plenty of upscale suit-and-tie types. The buzzy bar, serving up yummy cocktails, also attracts a sophisticated scene.
In fact, the restaurant even distills its own proprietary rye whiskey and gin from barley grown by farmers in the collective. Just think of sipping a cocktail with one of these fine spirits as the most festive, urbane way to get as close as possible to those amber waves of grain!
Read more about Founding Farmers in our Washington, DC Guide.