“One of the things I’ve learned from the few times I’ve been to Founding Farmers is this - you need to make a reservation if you want a table. The eatery owned by North Dakota Farmer’s Union is on a fairly busy street corner just a few blocks from the White House. And it is always bustling with activity.”
. . . This was the beginning of a report on Founding Farmers restaurant I asked my granddaughter, Carrie Sandstrom (CS), to send me. A UND communications major, CS is spending the summer in Washington as an interne in the office of North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp.
CS and a friend, PS (Patrick Stepp), went to Founding Farmers on a Sunday evening and with their reservation were seated within minutes of arriving. The hostess led them to the upper level by way of a wide wooden staircase lined with large Mason jars full of pickled fruits and veggies.
“The restaurant has sort of a rustic-chic vibe to it,” CS reports, “with waiters all wearing plaid and denim button up shirts as part of their uniforms.”
Their waitress was Julia. She told them the restaurant prides itself on being sustainable, making everything it can from scratch in the kitchen.
CS said Julia was the kind of waitress that makes you feel she actually is having a good time while doing her job. And she was thrilled to learn CS was from North Dakota.
Here’s what they ate:
- Drinks: PS went adventurous with a Farmers Tea ($4). It was sweetened with agave and hand shaken. It came in a tall glass with an inch or so of thick foam crowning the top. A sweet tea critic, PS gave the drink a big thumbs up, saying, “Now, that’s a tea.”
Unfortunately for him the beverage did not come with free refills. After the first glass he was forced to quench his thirst with water.
- Appetizer: CS and PS split the Skillet Corn Bread ($5) that came served with a side of salt-free honey butter. The bread arrived in a piping hot skillet probably four inches in diameter. The handle of the skillet was too hot to hold, but they managed to devour the thick slices of light, fluffy bread laced with corn kernels.
- Main course: CS tried the restaurant’s vegan and vegetarian options. They were plentiful and clearly labeled on the menu. She chose the Turkey Burger ($12 and vegetarian with the patty made from a variety of veggies). It came with cranberry compote, brie and griddle onions between toasted buns. Generally, CS reports, the Turkey Burger is served with lemon arugula for a side. Instead she had mashed potatoes just the way she likes them - with bits of skin and hunks of potato still left in.
She reports, “It was different and was enough to satisfy me and my taste buds.”
She went with a Diet Coke, which she said is what you would expect.
PS opted for the restaurant’s most popular main course - Southern Pan Fried Chicken and Waffles ($16). His whopping big plate included two pieces of chicken (a breast and a leg), half a waffle, a side of macaroni and cheese and one individual choice - which for PS was grilled broccolini. The pasta for the macaroni was made with North Dakota’s Mill’s premium hard amber durum wheat flour.
For PS, the meal was tasty, although he did not understand the combination of chicken and waffles.
Founding Farmers Restaurant
1924 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
(Off Foggy Bottom Metro Stop near the White House)
Hours: Opens 11 a.m. Monday through Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; closes 10 p.m. Sunday and Monday; 12 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Owner: North Dakota Farmers Union
Report card: All in all, the service was good, the people pleasant and tables packed close to accommodate as many as possible
And that was good because plenty of people were coming to eat on a Sunday evening.
Reach Hagerty at firstname.lastname@example.org or (701) 772-1055.