Brunch is a D.C. institution, and Founding Farmers is a brunch institution in D.C. So, we figured, brunch aficionados (that’s you, dear readers) had been there, done that, and it wasn’t top on our list of spots to review, to be honest. Furthermore, Becca had a horrific brunch experience at Founding Farmer’s sister restaurant, Farmers and Fishers, so we weren’t rushing over. But, everyone raves about Founding Farmers, including beau, so I decided to give it a go. The results? Mediocre.
Due to the restaurant’s popularity it’s tough to get a reservation, and they threaten to cancel your reservation after 15 minutes. We were running late, and they were not very accommodating. (I guess the hostess has never had a hangover.) After being seated, we had a nice server, who was competent, but fairly slow.
We started off with the Mel’s Donuts and Hot Coffee ($8). It’s a great deal: they bring you a big bowl of donut holes and either a pot of coffee or hot chocolate. It was perfect to share between beau and I. The yeast donut holes arrive hot out of the kitchen with three dipping sauces—chocolate, caramel, and a sugary sweet glaze—all of which were top-notch. The icing on the cake, or shall I say donut, was their charming presentation.
The brunch menu is large. You have three options—maple cinnamon syrup, strawberries and whipped cream, or bananas foster—for pancakes, waffles, and French toast. There are hashes, scrambles, four types of Benedicts, and more. It’s quite possible to be overwhelmed by the brunch choices, but there’s definitely something for everyone.
Per usual, I decided on the Crab Cakes Eggs Benedict (determined to find the best one in the city!). It came with leak potato hash browns, a nice departure from boring old potatoes that were crispy and delicious. The presentation on this dish, or lack thereof, however, was unappealing. Furthermore, either the server, or the cook, ignored my request for a firmer poached egg. Instead, my eggs were on the opposite end of the poached spectrum—excessively slimy and runny. The English muffins were burnt, making the Benedict difficult to cut and unpleasant to eat. The crab cakes were oily and seasoned with Cajun spices, which is fine, but it didn’t mention that on the menu. (The oil, however, is not fine.) The Hollandaise was good, but it didn’t make up for the rest of the dish.
Beau, who again ordered lunch (he can be such a pain sometimes), selected clam chowder and flat bread, and wasn’t crazy about the flavor or preparation of his meal. He says:
“The clam chowder was alright, but it didn’t have a lot of flavor beyond cream, salt, and pepper. The flatbread wasn’t flatbread at all, but instead just slices of a loaf of bread. By definition, flatbread is unleavened bread, and theirs was clearly slices of fluffy, white sourdough or something similar (I am no bread expert). Also I take arms with the preparation. Salami, goat cheese, and pesto. Pretty simple right? Well, my problem was with the layering. Why would they not spread the pesto on the bread? Oh wait! That’s because they didn’t use flatbread and it would’ve fallen through the air pockets! I mean, I’m sure it’s prettier to have it lying on top of the salami, but then it falls off and it really becomes half of a sandwich without the spread. Also, I have been trained to expect flatbread to have spent some time in the oven, or a fire, or heat in some capacity. This flat-piece-of-bread (read: not flatbread) was barely toasted, if anything.”
The Bitch and Beau say: C+. We feel badly giving Founding Farmers such a harsh review since only one of us had brunch. However, the fact remains, the presentation and preparation of our entrees were poor (false advertising on the “flat bread” and a burnt, slimy, oily Benedict). The clam chowder was bland. However, the donuts were delish!
1924 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006