Founding Farmers, Washington D.C.

Continuing with the breakfast theme of my last post- we head once again stateside for a breakfast (or the three I actually had there) that I will never forget. I am more than happy at this point to go on record and say that these are some of the best pancakes I have ever, and will ever, eat.

Founding Farmers (link will take you to their site), as the name would suggest- was founded by farmers from the North Dakota Farmers Union looking to ensure the sustainability of their futures and wanting to bring farm closer to fork. The result is a wonderful trio of restaurants serving from breakfast to dinner majority owned by farmers with a significant amount of the produce used in the kitchen stemming from local farms to the restaurants. The coffee in the Washington D.C. branch was also locally roasted and represented excellent value at $6 for three cups. As I said… three visits, in this time I managed to sample the original pancakes, the red velvet pancakes and the carrot cake pancakes AND the founding farmers breakfast for good measure.

Founding Farmers'  red velvet pancakes

The incredible Red Velvet pancakes from Founding Farmers in Washington D.C.

The original pancakes were superior to all those that have come before, light and fluffy and of an even size and an even more even brown-ness which I previously thought impossible. They close to melted on the tongue leaving behind the sweetness so closely associated with them. This is where I air my concern with American pancakes; or rather, the pancakes I had whilst in the U.S. Why are these incredible pancakes ruined with an awful watery syrup that would be easier to drown in than it would be to eat? The syrup rushed off the pancakes which visibly recoiled from its touch and dashed across the table-top faster than one could say ‘high fructose corn syrup’ (a mouthful, I admit), but this syrup was poor and dwarfed by the fantastic stalwart of breakfasts they’re supposed to support. I’d suggest smuggling in some of the good Canadian stuff in a hip flask for ventures into the U.S if the flask can handle the viscosity.

Despite the plague of the poor syrup, my testament to the pancakes still stands. And how wrong I was to believe they couldn’t be beaten until I tried the carrot cake and red velvet pancakes. A different league entirely in that both types were actually the respective cake batters poured into a pan and fried. Cake for breakfast is a wonderful thing and at Founding Farmers was made all the better by the scrapping of the usual butter and syrup fayre and instead both were accompanied by dollops of sweetened cream cheese emulating the frosting you’d normally find on the cakes themselves. That level of sugar in the morning was ecstasy and certainly gave me something to walk off on my strolls around Washington D.C.

On one of our other visits, I sampled the Founding Farmers breakfast which is made more difficult to pass comment on with the significant amounts of combinations possible. Paying homage to it however, is simple. The English muffin was fantastic with an excellent outer crust and just enough chewiness in the centre with lashings of butter. Again readers- in search of perfect poached eggs these too were a joy (though bested by Primrose Café) and alongside both the breakfast sausage was hearty and thoroughly enjoyable. All that was missing was a good dollop of HP (brown sauce to non-UK readers, it’s a mixture of tomato, Worcestershire sauce and molasses, sweet and tangy but far superior to BBQ). This was washed down with the curiously named New York Egg Cream- jerk soda, syrup and milk combined. What confronted me looked like someone had cracked a biological code and carbonated a milkshake, the bubbles danced across the tongue with vanilla coming in quickly from behind. In terms of hangover cures I prefer this method to a Bloody Mary.

Every time we arrived the place was in full swing, rammed with the populace of D.C. and those tourists like ourselves lucky enough to have found it. Be prepared for a wait or head to the bar area where it’s first come first served. Breakfast for two never set us back more than $30 including a tip and we rolled out of the door each time. Amongst the monuments of Washington D.C. this can be considered one in itself.

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