Back in April, I ran the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler the morning after a wild night out dancing. After such a stint, I was in need of a big brunch. I had made reservations for our group of 10 runners at Founding Farmers, which has been known as one of Washington’s top brunch spots.
The main reason I am hesitant to join the masses of Washingtonians who rant and rave about the wonders of Founding Farmers is that very ego, which is apparent from start to finish when you’re dining there.
Let’s flashback to January, when I decided to run the race along with eight friends as part of Shape magazine’s team. I racked my brain for a restaurant that (1) has close proximity to the National Mall, (2) is open early, (3) and wouldn’t be horrified by sweaty, stinky people in running clothes. Based on those constraining factors, I settled on Founding Farmers.
I called the restaurant, approximately 10 to 12 weeks before the date of the brunch and was informed by a curt hostess that they had space for a party of eight at 9:15 a.m. or 1:15 p.m. “Well,” after multiple attempts at negotiation, I replied, “A 10 a.m. would be best—but we’ll try to make the 9:15 work.”
The day of, I received more hell from hostesses as they wouldn’t seat us until most of our party was there. There were eight runners, all at different speeds, waddling over to the restaurant at varying finish times following the race.
“They are coming,” I replied. “I can’t make them run any faster.”
The table is ready and waiting (I could see it). Why didn’t they seat the four sweaty people blocking the entry way to the restaurant, I mused. They could be making money. Right now.
I’m always stunned by hosts and hostesses at restaurants who are neither polite nor welcoming nor accommodating. Aside from showing guests to their tables, isn’t that basically the entire purpose of the profession?
When we were finally rounded up and seated, we began the post-race post-weekend recap with friends from Washington and New York. It took the waiter a significant amount of time to provide us with waters and coffees—you do realize we all ran 10 miles and it’s nine-thirty in the morning, right?
Per Bitches Rule, there were beignets on the menu, so they were ordered immediately. The made-to-order fried-and-fluffy balls of sugar-coated dough were served with three dipping sauces: chocolate, caramel and raspberry coulis.
Dani, my high school bestie who works as Shape’s fitness editor in New York, is wild about Founding Farmer’s fluffer nutter, a shareable dish of slices of wheat toast layered with peanut butter, marshmallow fluff and bananas.
Dani’s main dish was the most unique, a red flannel hash made with pan-roasted red beets, goat cheese, shredded leek hash browns, and poached eggs. I love both beets and leeks, and Dani was conveniently seated next to me, enabling me to snag plenty of sneaky bites.
Meanwhile, my brunch dish was the most traditional: a beautiful stack of blueberry pancakes. As I had stayed up all night dancing and knocked out 10 miles on two hours of sleep, I feel the stack was well-prepared (beautiful stack of traditional hotcakes) and well-earned.
Eric had the traditional Founding Farmers breakfast: sausage, scrambled eggs, leek hash browns, and sliced tomatoes.
Lauren had a different rendition on the Founding Farmers breakfast, with bacon, fried eggs, leek hash browns and sliced tomatoes. You can opt for grits or a salad in lieu of hashbrowns (but who would do that?) or fruit in lieu of tomatoes (I would definitely do that), but neither decided to do that.
Most people, Bitches included, can appreciate a nicer restaurant that offers traditional diner-style breakfast plates with plenty of options, and Founding Farmers is definitely provides this rarity.
Aaron, the other gentleman at the table and the only non-runner, had the chicken and waffles. He said it was good but not amazing, but had no specific complaints.
Dani’s college gals, Vicki and Kelli, both sticking with healthier options post-race, opted for the “Drag through the Garden” scramble, which is pan-scrambled egg whites, roasted seasonable veggies, spinach, and white cheddar cheese. The dish is again served with your choice of hash browns, grits, salad, fruit salad, or sliced tomatoes.
With regard to the service, there were highs in attentiveness and lows when we felt a bit abandoned and/or thirsty. However, the waiter was accommodating with our modifications to the menu items and brought us individual bills without prompting—Founding Farmers is definitely good for groups.
There are many great things about Founding Farmers: it’s centrally located in Washington; the menu has loads of options at affordable prices; it opens early for brunch (7 a.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. on weekends); it’s good for large parties; and it’s a casual-yet-nice with reliable cuisine.
The Bitches say: B.
1924 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.