After months of excitement, anticipation and an abundant lack of childhood patience, Farmers Fishers Bakers has finally opened its doors. Thus far, we’ve been unable to reach a consensus on whether or not we love the name. It seems a bit lengthy, and reminds us of childhood tongue twisters — therefore we refer to it as “FFBs”. This could also be the reasoning behind “The Farm” reference throughout the menu and on its website.
FFBs originates from the same minds that developed and run one of our highly recommended and personal favorite restaurants in the District — Founding Farmers. By following the same set of culinary principles and commitment to producing a menu packed with fresh, seasonal products, FFBs is a great destination for those venturing into the heart and soul of Georgetown.
Atmosphere & Architecture:
Pushing aside the menu and our experience for a moment, the design and atmosphere of FFBs was impressive and noteworthy. Through a partnership with DC-based Griz Form Design Architects, FFBs is a blend of culinary vision with subtle and refined details which add to the dining experience. Using basic principles grounded on form, function and creativity, the restaurant features wonderful sight-lines and an open environment. The artwork, which was handcrafted and commissioned from local and regional artists, adds a unique touch and provides diners with a different perspective from every seat in the house.
We highly recommend a reservation before attempting to dine at FFBs. However, even a confirmed reservation is not a reliable insurance policy against the disorganized and dysfunctional host stand awaiting your arrival. During our experience, the scene reminded us of Lemmings trying desperately to reach the host stand en masse as waiting parties collided with newly arriving guests through the revolving door.
Under normal circumstances we don’t mind waiting for a table, especially for a new restaurant trying to meet Washingtonian expectations. We just wonder what was taking place during our 22 minute wait with a reservation, after we were told on arrival “we’re just getting your table ready now”. Getting our table ready for 22 minutes? How? Were you trying to kick out other diners super-glued to their chairs? Were you cleaning using Q-tips and a toothbrush for a military “white-glove inspection” ? Just tell us the truth — you’re packed and behind in the reservation book. We would understand, otherwise we think you’re in the backroom “preparing our table” by building it by hand from a block of old salvaged wood.
Unlike its sister restaurant (Founding Farmers), FFBs caters to a rowdier bunch. We were surprised by the number of tables packed with college students who had ventured down the street from their G.U. dorms. The fast tempo background music was more foreground noise, and added to a cacophony of increased decibels. Forget about intimate dining unless you are one of the lucky few to grab a seat at one of the limited built-in booths which might help to dampen the noise. The atmosphere caters more toward the group night out, less so for the couples looking to converse over a fine meal.
Cocktails & Craft Beer:
The Good: As we expected, the cocktail menu is a blend of playful sophistication combining top-shelf spirits with house made syrups, elixirs and fresh ingredients. Our classic Manhattan with a torched orange peel was excellent. Where Founding Farmers is synonymous with prohibition-era cocktails, FFBs has gone to the tropics of Tahiti, Hawaii and Southeast Asia. Popular drinks include a range of Mai Tais, Scorpions, Daiquiris, Swizzles and Zombies (“oh my!”).
Our blended “Missionary Downfall” (strange name) was a blast of boozy deliciousness, however we don’t get the relationship to the rest of the menu or the restaurant’s theme. We’re all for FFBs focus on the “U.S. Farmer”, but just do not understand how American dirt, crops and farming effort relate to foreign, fruity blends associated with Summer vacation. The concept is bizarre, but the blended drinks are a great selection regardless.
The Bad: Apparently FFBs has an extensive and frequently updated draft selection of 24 different craft beers from both American and international brewers. Recent studies on cultural drinking patterns show a major shift away from the wine bottle and into the world of craft beer. As a former self-proclaimed wine aficionado, we certainly fall into that category and were excited to find such an extensive list of common brewing names and several new discoveries. Unfortunately, we discovered this world of hops at the end of our meal while waiting for the check. Our server failed to mention this list of beer located on the paper rolled up like a scroll which we mistakenly thought was the sushi menu (come on, it was stuck into a bucket of chopsticks!).
The Ugly: Located above is a photo of our Mint Julep. It’s beautiful right? Sure is. A damn fine representation of the Kentucky Derby’s most recognized drink, until…we took a sip. Did Colonel Sanders mistake the bourbon for straight lime juice again? What is lime juice even doing in a Mint Julep? Our server confirmed that it was lime juice and intentionally added to the drink, despite the menu describing it as it should: bourbon, mint, sugar and ice. Whatever they served us was not a Mint Julep. I’m still convinced Mr. Clean jumped out of that stainless steel cup and sprinkled Pine Sol over ice because that thing was undrinkable.
FFBs dinner menu is extensive and equally appetizing. Although we were tempted by FFBs Sushi Menu, we are loyal to KAZ Bistro and opted for a range of other starters and entrees. For a couple which loves dining out equally as much as we enjoy sharing plates, FFBs menu caters to such groups. The various options are what FFB calls “unstructured” in a sense, and invite diners to pick and choose from an extensive list of inspired dishes focused on the “Farmhouse style”. Despite initial setbacks during our experience — from the host stand wait, to the need for commandeering silverware from a nearby table, and our mixup in mixology — the food makes up for everything, and then some.
We were shocked and saddened to find out that our first selection — brick oven pretzels with pimento cheese and BBQ mustard — were all sold out, at 8:00 pm. Our server was quick with a second recommendation for the mix of grilled ciabatta bread, roasted garlic and dipping sauces (it was excellent and flavorful). We also sampled the fresh guacamole, prepared table side and served with puffy corn tortilla chips, spicy pimento cheese and fresh salsa (highly recommended). Our entree selections can be found below.
New diners and the regulars from Founding Farmers will be equally pleased by the depth of flavor, incredible color, and truly creative twist on classic dishes and those new inspirations found nowhere else but at FFBs. Before hitting up OpenTable or calling for a reservation, we recommend giving the waitstaff some time to become more acquainted with the menu, and an opportunity for the front of house to work out a solution to the Lemmings chaos before booking. We predict that over time, FFBs will live up to the Founding Farmers name and reputation.
Caprese Carpaccio - thinly sliced fresh tomato and watermelon on top a thin, creamy mixture of fresh ricotta spread. A beautiful and innovative twist on a caprese salad resulting in a vibrant, light and fresh starter salad.
Authentic Field Tacos with Steak Carne - flavorful twist on tacos with a focus on the sweet corn cake tortilla and marinated steak.
Cracklin’ Pork Shank - a mind-blowing dish of succulent, crispy pork on top of a bed of sweet corn, peanut-cider slaw and red-eye gravy. This dish makes the Man-List as a top selection for any meat lover.
“Mad-Pig-Style” Jambalaya - Served with seasoned and slow-cooked Carolina rice stacked high with meats and seafood.
Are you confused why this photo is here? Thought it was a mistake? An inadvertent oversight? So did we, but yes, these are the vessels which FFBs chose for their blended drinks. How this falls into an image of the “American Farmer” we have no idea. This character is neither a farmer, a fisherman, or a baker. Hey FFBs, the tourist-trap Hibachi restaurant from 1997 called and they want their Asian mug back. Yes, this one. The one featuring the angry Asian man with a fu manchu, minty-leaf hair and drink contents that caused him to sprout an extra set of eyebrows.