Founding Farmers Restaurant Reviewed

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Tinsley’s Take

Founding Farmers has been on our bucket list for quite some time. When Jason told me that he got us a reservation, I was stoked to finally check this restaurant off our list. After hearing so many raves about Founding Farmers, I expected great things. Unfortunately, I was greatly disappointed and I simply don’t understand the hype.

For starters, the location (Maryland) sucks. When I think Founding Farmers, I think warm, down to earth, rustic, farm-to-table. Instead you get cold, new and industrious – the owners really missed the mark.

For me, the food was just ok. Some of the menu reflected a farm-to-table vibe, but other items were really off the wall. I had their Goat Cheese Ravioli in a butternut, fennel sauce. The ravioli was good (how can you go wrong with goat cheese), but the sauce ruined the dish; the fennel completely over powered the dish.

The best thing about Founding Farmers was the service. Our waitress rocked, which only made me want to really like the rest.

I’m always willing to try something twice – so I’ll be curious to see how their Tyson’s location turns out. For now, I give them 2 forks (and they can think our waitress that).


Jason’s Judgment

With all the buzz about Founding Farmers, my expectations were sky high. Maybe even astronomically high. Whether it was from co-workers, friends or casual acquaintances, I heard nothing but fantastic restaurant raves. The more I heard about Founding Farmers, the more I wanted to give it a whirl, but getting a reservation was more difficult than I had anticipated. With two current open locations, downtown and Potomac, MD, (and a third in the works – Tysons Corner) I was surprised reservations were a challenge. The downtown restaurant never seemed to be an option, so we set across the Memorial Bridge towards the Potomac location.

Much to my surprise, the Potomac locale is set in a small town center area. With a name like Founding Farmers, I had envisioned a more rustic or historic locale, such as The Wine Kitchen in historic Leesburg, VA. Despite the odd location, the joint was brimming with patrons and bar folk. Thankfully we had a reservation, because there were some who told us they had been waiting 2.5 hours to be seated. No restaurant is worth waiting 2.5 hours to be seated. Think of how much you could accomplish in that time, but I digress. I found the ambience to be lackluster, with more of an industrial hodge-podge feel. A rustic, farm-to-table atmosphere would’ve better served the restaurant, but more difficult to accomplish in a new, steel and glass office building.

The menu is diverse, extensive and chock full of fantastic foodie finds — skillet honey butter cornbread, prosciutto fig mascarpone bread, crispy spatchcock chicken and bacon cheddar dogs. After deliberating for twenty minutes much to our server’s chagrin, I settled on Southern Fried Chicken. Served with spicy collard greens, redskin mashed potatoes and a biscuit, the meal had promise. Much to my shock and dismay, the food was terrible. My fried chicken competed with my biscuit for the driest food award. I couldn’t eat either without washing it down with a full glass of water, so they remained on my plate. While I’m not a collard greens connoisseur, I had no complaints.

Tinsley and I looked at each other in confusion over what was going on. We were at one of the most talked about restaurants in DC metro, which was packed, but the food was so incredibly underwhelming. Stunned, we commented how this had to be the most disappointing food we’ve ever had. As I write this review hours after dinner, I still can’t believe how our experience was so disproportionate to our expectations. One highlight? The vanilla milkshake that I got to go. Billed as the best-ever, I had little to no hope of it even being good. But it wasn’t bad at all. Best ever? No, but really good.

Perhaps we chose the worst night to taste Founding Farmers. Perhaps the kitchen was having an off night. Whatever it was, it wasn’t good. We’re in such disbelief that we’ve vowed to give it another try. We’ll either venture downtown or wait for their Tysons Corner opening to determine once and for all if tonight’s food failures were a fluke, or if Founding Farmers can serve up truly fantastic fare.

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  1. Aw, that’s such a bummer! I went there a year or two ago and I really liked it, but it wasn’t really hyped up for me (since apparently I’m out of touch with the DC food scene haha) We went for brunch though. Maybe you should try that one? Such a bummer!

  2. Kevin C Livingston says:

    I had been looking forward to checking this restaurant out, but now I am a little less enthusiastic. I am sure I will get around to them, but they have definitely been knocked down the list. Maybe I will wait until after your next visit.

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