Founding Farmers expanded their menu several years ago to add an emphasis on meatless meals. They included an equal amount of vegan and vegetarian offerings. Fast forward to today and I discovered that this is no longer the case when I returned from a three-year hiatus from this restaurant.
It was a weekday afternoon and Founding Farmers was packed! We had a reservation for 11:45 a.m. In most popular restaurants in DC, they begin to fill up around 12:10 p.m. and are packed by 12:30 p.m. This restaurant looked like it just stayed busy all day long. We got there on time, but waited as several parties were also waiting to be seated. They finally seated us by the window on the first floor.
Founding Farmers is a huge restaurant with two floors and a basic, slightly boring decor. They pride themselves on making everything in-house including their breads and they remain a popular lunch and dinner choice in the city.
There is a Meatless section on the menu, but when I inquired as to what I could have that is vegan, the server said there wasn't much. I decided to start drinking and ordered a nice glass of white wine. That usually makes everything better. :-) The Pickled Seasonal Vegetables were the only vegan appetizer so we ordered that. It was mostly cucumbers that weren't crispy and were in way too much vinegar. We were not impressed.
For my entree, they said there was only one vegan item I could order, so I ordered that. Everything else had some sort of butter in it and she did not offer to see if they could make it without the butter so I settled on the Rice and Bean Burger with Smoked Tofu and a salad. The salad was mostly arugula with some beets in lemon juice and while it was simple, it was quite good.
The Rice and Bean Burger itself was great, but the presentation of the burger under a huge white bun wasn't so great. Neither was the white bread or the iceberg lettuce. They were skimpy on the smoked tofu as well by adding just 1.5 slices on top of the burger. This meal could be much improved with an artisan wheat burger bun, field greens instead of iceberg lettuce and thick generous portions of the smoked tofu.
I also had an herbal tea to end the lunch.
I feel so conflicted as I really like Founding Farmers and what they stand for, but I left disappointed. I know they can make great meals as I've had great meals in the past and I'm disappointed that most of the meatless dishes are not vegan. The burger was good, but the accompaniments were not, which took away from the meal. And for a $13 burger, I expect more. The service was very slow for a weekday lunch as well, but that is something they are known for. Lots of room for improvement here.
July 4, 2011
January 18, 2013
April 12, 2013
1924 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20006