I delayed a visit to Founding Farmers for nearly eight years until I learned about its crown-jewel dinner entree: a slab of chicken fried steak served with a donut. A friggin’ donut for dinner. Goin’ once, twice … sold!
Founding Farmers is another in a long line of “farm-to-table” restaurants in the D.C. area that feature locally grown and sustainable American cuisine. Call me callous, but I honestly don’t care whether a restaurant grows its veggies in the neighborhood hippie commune or Mars as long as it’s (relatively) fresh and good. On a recent chilly evening, the wife and I dined joined The Goat, his doe, and their friend 3D at the Farmers’ location in Tysons Corner – one of three restaurants it operates around the National Capital Region. (The others are the original site in D.C. and Montgomery County, MD. Careful of the Maryland drivers).
People packed the large bar area when we visited on a busy Friday night. (Make reservations!) I sipped an Old Fashioned with a large ice cube while waiting for our table to clear. Dozens of happy-hour refugees, girls celebrating a night out, and casually dressed schlubs streamed into the waiting area.
We waited 15 minutes past our 8 p.m. reservation time before being seated, but quickly went to work. For an appetizer, we ordered cornbread made from scratch in a skillet (top right photo) and a share plate of Virginia ham, turkey, and biscuits (bottom right). The corn bread was delicious – warm and slightly sweet. I sandwiched a slice of ham between biscuit halves and dabbed it with tart jelly; the sweet blended with the savory perfectly.
For my entree, I had just one choice: the chicken fried steak slathered with gravy, served with sides of macaroni-and-cheese and green beans (the big photo above). And of course, a donut – or something Founding Farmers calls the “Jefferson Donut.” The mac-and-cheese and green beans were forgettable, but the chicken fried steak is the best I’ve had since moving to the East Coast. A thin line of glaze topped my donut, but what I found particularly impressive was the donut itself – the cake was moist and slightly sweet, and the glaze added a slight sweetness that blended well together in my mouth.
I don’t remember what anyone else ordered because I was in my own little world that night. Maybe Daesh will quit fighting if Founding Farmers sends some chicken fried steak and donuts to Syria. Maybe not.
I found the prices at Founding Farmers reasonable for a meal at a nice restaurant. My entree cost $16, while the appetizers were $6 each. A hunk of red meat costs upwards of $17, which is a better value than many other lesser-quality restaurants in D.C.