When it comes to picking a restaurant for dinner, I tend prefer a place I’ve never been before. On occasion I’ll repeat a meal at a restaurant if the food and service was out of this world the first time around, especially if the chef’s working with a seasonal menu that changes periodically, because in that case, it’s practically a brand new dining experience with some new vegetable star featured in the evening’s lineup. But for the most part, if given a choice, I’ll take something new over something borrowed and blue…aka, somewhere I’ve been before. That’s how we found what may be the best restaurant in Washington DC.
The importance I place on trying new places is definitely reinforced when I’m traveling. There are just too many cities and restaurants to try. It is overwhelming to think about, but I just put the blinders on, and check the next one off the list, because you’ve got to start somewhere…right? Right!
So on a recent trip to DC, I thought it would be fun to check out one of the sister restaurants of a place I’ve been to before. Knowing how good the meal was the first time around served as an unofficial stamp of approval I was willing to grant to any dining establishment by the same proprietors. Besides, I don’t always have the time to do serious research on the culinary scene of a city before I get there, so picking a place based on the track record of a specific restaurant group….is just my way of making an educated guess. Location, style of cuisine, and the availability of a last minute table for five on a Saturday night, may have factored a little bit into our decision too, but the moment Jonathan’s sister said Farmers, Fishers Bakers in Georgetown’s Washington Harbor was owned by the same group that owns Founding Farmers, I was like “duh! We should go there!” And we did.
Farmers Fishers Bakers is hidden in the back of the lower plaza level courtyard just a stone’s throw away from the calm Potomac River. When the weather’s nice there’s outside seating to enjoy and when it’s a little chilly, there’s a fire pit a-blazing for some additional heat.
Inside the large expanse of a restaurant is designed with a modern eye for what I like to call an “organized clutter.” The décor is a mash up of urban elegance with the sterile white tiles, copper and steel fixtures, and gray cement kitchen meshed with the warmth of American history, which was achieved when the interior designers visually spewed Americana nick knacks around, covering any place your eye has left to look. The shared sink outside the men’s and women’s bathrooms is cool, but I get the sense the shower of water from the ceiling is either a major waste of our natural resource, or just an unsanitary affair. It was pretty, but that’s about it.
Décor aside, the food was good. The menu is a cornucopia of proteins, cuisines, and cooking styles, making it the perfect choice for a fussy group of independent eaters. For those of us who were counting Weight Watcher points we could stick to large tasty salads, and grilled seafood, while the rest of us had the option of pigging out on fried chicken, creamy soups and jambalayas, pizzas, heavier open range meats, field tacos, mac & cheeses, and a long list of delicious desserts all made in-house.
I think the best description actually came from Jonathan when he called it “a sophisticated Cheesecake Factory,” which I don’t mean to be a stain on the establishment’s brand, because I happen to love Cheesecake Factory, but that is indeed a great way to capture the tone and feel of place. And it doesn’t matter if CIA trained Senior Executive Chef Joe Goetze ever changes up the menu up, because it’s so large, I’ll have the chance of trying all completely new items the next time we’re back in our nation’s capital.
Farmers Fishers Bakers
Brick Oven Pretzels: Pimento Cheese, BBQ Mustard, Sour Cream & Onion Dips. I respect and appreciate the size of these pretzels. Not only were they served warm and soft, but the dips were the perfect accompaniment. I think the pimento cheese was my least favorite.
Fried Brussels Sprouts & Blue Cheese Salad. This is exactly what it sounds like. Full of flavor and very good, but I would have thought Brussels sprouts would have shined more in the dish, rather then just being the garnish.
Shaved Cauliflower & Asian Pear Salad. Again, what you read is what you get. Very tasty, but nothing to write home about.
Spinach, Mushroom & Fennel Salad. Since some our group doesn’t eat pork (I know!) we had them put the bacon on the side, which made my serving of this salad taste like salty cured pig…..so I liked it.
Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl. The poke was amazing. The dressing had a little spicy kick to it, but nothing too overpowering. The large chunks of pomegranate red tuna just melted in my mouth followed by the sweet crunch of a crispy wonton.
Crispy Duck Fat Chicken Wings. Anything fried in duck fat is a friend of mine. Enough said!
Boneless Brick Chicken with Lemon Thyme Butter: Farm-A-Roni, Veggie Succotash, Red Eye Gravy. They call it “Farm-A-Roni” because “R**e-A-Roni” is trademarked, which was funny and yet obnoxious at the same time. Why not just come up with a more original way of describing your rice and veggie side?
Butternut cake with salted bourbon caramel ice cream. This cake looks like your average layered sheet cake, but don’t be fooled by its butter colored exterior, because it was awesome. Along the lines of a maple flavored cake, this butternut cake and butternut frosting is part of Farmers Fishers Bakers “heritage cake” line. A throw back to Betty Crocker’s heyday, this cake just reminded me of my childhood.
Ice Cream Sandwiches of the Day. Probably the best bang for our buck. They brought us this assortment of sandwich cookies with a few classics mixed in with some of the fun homemade ice cream flavors of the day. Needless to say, each of these were passed around the table so everyone could have a bite, and there wasn’t a morsel left on the plate.