I recently made a trip to DC where for the first time since leaving the area, I spent most of my time there on the other side of the river in Virginia. However as I was making my way back into the city to catch my bus, my friend thought it might make sense to let me experience a relatively new arrival onto the brunch scene in DC – Founding Farmers. Ironically, it’s located diagonally from my old office building! The restaurant focuses on promoting sustainable agriculture and the ways of the American family farmer. They make a concerted effort to make eco-friendly choices in all sourcing of products as well as all aspects of the daily operation of the restaurant itself (down to the materials for producing their menus). Sadly we were unable to procure a reservation (note – good to plan ahead for this one as they’re on OpenTable) but decided to give it a try anyhow seeing as it was pouring outside. There’s a fair amount of seating – a decent number of tables surround the bar area downstairs and there’s a large second floor as well full of tables. We ended up only having to wait about 15 minutes before we were seated upstairs.
To start, we shared an order of the hot donuts and coffee. The donuts were served with three glazed dipping sauces from which to choose – chocolate, caramel, and a bourbon-honey and either hot chocolate or a press of coffee. The coffee here was excellent – on the stronger side, which I think is how brunch should be! My friend went with their ‘Drag Through the Garden’ Scramble, one of her favorites. The scramble is pan scrambled egg whites, roasted seasonal vegetables, fresh spinach and white cheddar, served with your choice of shredded leek hash browns, grits, farmer’s salad, fresh fruit or tomatoes. Her husband chose his favorite, the Founding Farmer’s Breakfast, which includes two eggs (prepared based on your choosing), served with house-made breakfast sausage or Nueske’s thick-cut bacon, and choice of shredded leek hash browns, grits, farmers’ salad, fresh fruit or tomatoes. His also included homemade jam and a choice of their house-made english muffin, grilled buttered ciabatta toast or whole wheat toast.
I was trying to decide which of the many French Toast options I was going to choose, when I found myself lost in the list of bacon options. I love me some breakfast meats, and I’m used to seeing the basic options – bacon, sausage, maybe some ham. But four different variations? The slices are all thick Artisan cut apple smoked bacon that has been glazed and caramelized on the griddle. One order could be shared between two, although you might not want to! The choices included Black Pepper Maple, Joe’s Texas BBQ Sauce, Buck’s Hot Sauce, and Golden Boy Sweet & Sour. For my first visit, I had to go with the Black Pepper Maple (maple seemed the no-brainer pairing for French Toast, though I found myself wishing they had a bacon sampler platter? Hint hint?)
For French Toast, the menu had quite a selection. The majority were stuffed French Toasts, made with a house-made brioche soaked in brandy creme anglaise, flash fried and then filled with vanilla pastry cream. You then had your choice of toppings – maple cinnamon syrup, fresh strawberries/whipped cream, or bananas foster. I elected to go with the more basic option, which still used the house-made brioche soaked in the brandy creme anglaise, but it was not filled with the vanilla pastry cream. The bread slices were just right – not so thick as to make three slices too large a serving – and perfect once complemented by the black pepper maple bacon. I can’t always notice the flavoring when French Toast is soaked in something prior to frying, but here the brandy creme anglaise was noticeable yet not overpowering. I’d have a hard time coming back here again and not ordering the same dish.
What I liked most about the menu was the range of options. There are so many different egg-based dishes, yet there are so many non-egg options too. Nice and balanced. Highly recommend this excellent addition to the District’s brunch scene.
Founding Farmers – 1924 Pennsylvania Ave NW (b/w 19th & 20th St NW) – 202.822.8783