Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Vegetarian Visiting: Farmers & Fishers

I don't know exactly what the technical term is for a vegetarian who still eats fish and eggs; it probably involves "ovo" and does not work alliteratively. So, this is what you get. That's not to say there aren't lots of good blogs out there for those of you seeking strict vegetarian and vegan sources; this post, however, is not one of them. My personal vegetarian, my sibling, K, eats fish, so we thought his recent visit would be a good opportunity to try out Farmers and Fishers on the Georgetown waterfront.

There are so many things about Farmers & Fishers that I want to like - their eco-friendly mission, menu selection, the location, for instance. The sustainability and farm-to-table concepts; those they've got down and for that, kudos is deserved. The food, we found, has some true highlights, but also some lackluster performances. I think the restaurant has promise, and I hope they are able to improve on some of the weaker dishes, because I don't want to have to choose between my (eco) conscience and my stomach - I want both to have a happy night out together.

Before I move on to the cuisine, I should first make a note about the beverage selection, presented in yet another treatise of a menu. The cocktail list invites diners to "imbibe" but at $12 - $14 per drink, I felt wine was the more economical option. (Though I should note that I suspect the F&F cocktails are quite tasty, as they appear very similar to the rather delicious libations at Founding Farmers). My brother and I decided to split what we expected to be a bottle of "Yellow and Blue" Argentinian Torrontes. Well, without prior warning, this is what was served:





As it turns out, this particular organic wine is served in, according to our waiter, not a box, but in environmentally-friendly carton packaging. Now, this is not all bad. In fact, it's really not bad at all. The carton is a full liter of wine versus your typical 750 ml in a bottle - allowing for take home wine even with two splitting the bottle. Plenty of amusement can be gathered from said carton, like say, when your waiter puts it in an ice bucket, or when you've had a couple of glasses and carry it around whilst referring, with a British accent, to Grey Poupon. And last but not least (teetering precariously on the edge of oversharing here), with the aforementioned take-home wine, the carton makes for a perfect bath-time drinking vessel - it stays cold, it floats, and it's not breakable. With that little tangent overcome, moving on to the cuisine...

The vast menu (just like Founding Farmers, its sister restaurant, which I enjoyed the first go round, but with which I have been subsequently less-than-wowed - with the exception of the aforementioned cocktails, of course) at F&F has plenty of options but the seafood and fish selections are quite limited, even more limited if you don't want said fish and/or seafood deep fried. In fact, the majority of the menu is made up of pizzas and pastas - what is this, the earth-friendly Cheesecake Factory?

Despite the limited selection, I was nevertheless intrigued by the signature preparations of the fresh fish(es) of the day. On this particular day, however, the only selections were salmon and tilapia, two fishes I would generally prefer to prepare at home rather than order from people who are paid to cook. K, however, decided that the Tilapia Chesapeake Style (Old Bay, etc...) would be worth a try. Given the number of pastas on the menu, I was swayed that perhaps these might be signature dishes, and I went with the crab ravioli. C, in a menu full of options, evidently couldn't decide, and went with the local standard, crabcakes. It's funny how I was the one criticizing the menu and others' selections, only to turn out to be the diner disappointed by her entree. K's Tilapia was had the triple fluh - flaky, flavorful, and flooring (maybe?!) - I dunno, I tried. C raved that the crabcakes were the best he'd tasted in quite some time. On the other hand, my ravioli was tough and chewy, and the butter wine sauce was lackluster. 


We were able to find a couple of seafood options as appetizers as well. (I know, reverse order here). The cracker-crusted calamari had a yummy and distinctive flavor, but the cracker crust did not stand up to the deep fry it underwent. The crab dip was pretty average, but it's crab and cheese, so who's complaining? We also shared a salad, which one I don't remember, so that says enough about that. Perhaps, instead, we should have gone with the truck-style tacos that caught my eye.


Dessert meant it was time to head home, so we took the fried-to-order doughnut holes (Q: Does Deepthroat ever pass up doughnuts? A: No.) and bourbon sweet potato pecan tart to go. While the doughnut holes had a luscious chocolate glaze, I wasn't in love with them, and these are doughnuts we are talking about (I'm like Jessica Simpson to jerks for them). We were similarly unimpressed by the tart. It was the size of a mini-quiche, dry, and utterly flavorless. Perhaps a cup of Intelligentsia coffee is a better choice than dessert at F&F.


The service was also one of the lesser points of our meal. Our waiter seemed, well, either scared of us, or scared of life. He continued, after numerous requests to repeat things, to whisper to us despite the fact that we were sitting outdoors in front of a fountain and the Tony and Joe's outdoor bar. Also, after C asked for the third time for the Coke he had previously ordered, we were informed that the restaurant did not serve Coke (and no, this was not a Coke v. Pepsi confusion; just no mass-marketed sodas, period).

As I noted, we dined outside, so I cannot tell you what the scene is like inside the restaurant. But, it may be a better choice than the outside tables, unless of course, you want to people watch. It's the G-Town waterfront; there are always lots of choices for people-watching. It's a little difficult to separate one's self from the Tony & Joe's bar (we've all been there at some point) and the prom kids at the outdoor tables though. So, if you would appreciate a different scene, I would suggest dining inside.


Summary thought - F&F has some kinks to work out, but it has promise.

8 comments:

Manimal said...

The crabcake was definitely meaty and not filler. Love the reference to Grey Poupon and the floating wine "bottle" :)!

Mollie said...

Don't bother with the fish tacos - they were chewy and I hate to say it...but just bad.

The hummus appetizer, however, is fantastic! As are the pizzas!

W. Mark Felt, Sr. said...

Thanks for the heads up on the fish tacos and hummus. Have a feeling I wouldn't get a pizza there though.

iEatDC said...

I think I'm in the minority, but I can't stand Founding Farmers, and that alone makes me not want to go to Fishers Farmers or wahteverthehell the new one is called. The service at FF is horrendous, the food is mediocre at best (with mostly tiny portions), and it comes out so late that you're starving and the food is cold. I've been there a handful of times, WANTING to like it, but meh. It'll never go out of business though, that area of Foggy Bottom is a deadzone.

Dan Simons, Partner and Concept Creator said...

I enjoyed reading your review, and I appreciate the feedback. I take it all seriously (at least, the elements that are intended seriously!) and I'll review your feedback with my culinary team and our service staff. For you, or any of your readers that ever have anything less than a stellar performance, please contact me through our website and let me know about it. I will make it right, whatever I need to do! Our goal with both Founding Farmers and Farmers & Fishers is to simply be great local restaurants where you can dine often, enjoy, get great value, and know that you're getting True Food and True Drink. And I recommend you try the pizza at F&F, I think you'll be pleasantly thrilled. And for your reader that said the "portions are tiny at Founding Farmers", I do have to ask, "what planet are you on?"--please, come meet me at the restaurant any time, I'll treat you to lunch, and we'll explore the menu together and review the portions, and ensure you get great service...

iEatDC said...

Mr. Simons - I'm on a planet of the tiniest brunch entree (frittata? omelet?) ever that came out cold after almost an hour of waiting (on a rather un-busy morning), and it made me sad :( and I longed for the breadbaskets full of muffins and biscuits at other favorite brunch establishments. A dinner that was royally screwed up (took forever, half the entrees were wrong) was comped by 50% by a manager, and that was very kind--but I'm still unlikely to return. I'm just one tiny person, and a lot of people really love your restaurant! It just wasn't for me. Best of luck.

W. Mark Felt, Sr. said...

I LOVE that we have some earnest conversation going on here. Thanks for the interest in the blog and for the constructive feedback - it's good to know that restaurants take our perspectives into account. I'm just out here to share my personal experiences, eating and otherwise.

Like I said, I've had some good and some bad experiences at FF.

I had hoped that breakfast/brunch, which many rave about, would be on the more positive side of the scale, so it's disappointing that you did not have a good experience. (Though I have to agree with Mr. Simons, but perhaps not with the use of "what planet are you on?", I've never had a portion that even remotely approximated small - sounds like you got a raw deal during your experience). All that said, as you pointed out, with the wait at FF, they won't be hurting for business any time soon.

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