LOCATION: 1800 Tysons Boulevard, Tysons Corner, VA 22102
When I was living in the D.C. area, one restaurant that I found people having rather polarizing opinions about was Founding Farmers. Before the first time I went, I asked some of my friends that had visited, and they either loved it or didn’t care for it. That same sentiment seemed to go for online reviews as well, as I rarely saw a “I thought it was only okay” comment about the place.
The first time I visited Founding Farmers was at their D.C. location in Foggy Bottom with my friends Mike and Tina. That visit was probably about four years ago now, but I remember it being a really positive impression about their food and dining experience. Fast forward to last weekend, where I was back up in D.C. with my friends Kevin and Carlos, and we decided to hit up their Tysons Corner location for dinner one night.
It was Friday night and the place was packed with diners. We had been able to fit in a reservation timeslot, or otherwise it would have been a dice roll to get a table just walking in. The interior decorating of the restaurant (at both locations) was something I had definitely been a fan of, being able to blend the country farmhouse aesthetic with a modern feel to it. Even as it started getting dark, I thought it was pretty well-lit on the inside, with nice usage of warm overhead lighting as well as accent lighting over by the bar and their liquor shelves.
I told Kevin and Carlos that if there was one appetizer that was a “must-get,” it was the glazed bacon lollis. Pieces of bacon that were glazed with brown sugar, the appetizer was absolutely amazing during the first time I tried it on my previous trip to Founding Farmers. I mean, what’s not to love about some sweet and crispy bacon?
Carlos and I were actually on a bit of a deviled eggs kick, so that comprised of our second appetizer for the meal. When turning it over to entrées, one other diner that Carlos had talked to had recommended the spicy fried chicken. I was initially contemplating a burger or a sandwich, but after reading the spicy fried chicken description, it was definitely sounding like it would hit the spot better.
It certainly didn’t take too long for the bacon lollis and deviled eggs to come out of the kitchen. One bite of the bacon, and it was definitely just as good as I remembered. Crispy, smoky, and finishing on some sweet notes, the bacon was easily gone within a minute of them being dropped off at the table. The deviled eggs, on the other hand, I also thought had good flavor, but they didn’t necessarily stand out enough that I’d be inclined to order them again on a future visit.
Despite how busy it seemed the dining room was, I thought that the rest of our food came out of the kitchen at a relatively good pace. The fried chicken came with one piece of light meat and one piece of dark meat, and both of them looking nicely battered and crisp, fried to a golden brown. The dish normally comes with a side of grits, but I substituted them out for some mashed potatoes instead.
After sampling the mashed potatoes, I figured they could use a bit of salt and pepper. But while I was using the sea salt grinder they had at the table, the top popped off and half of the bottle’s sea salt ended up on the potatoes. I definitely have to give credit to the dining room team, because one of the floor managers saw what had happened and immediately came over to the table asking if I wanted a replacement plate. The “sea salt with a side of mashed potatoes” was taken back to the kitchen and a fresh plate of fried chicken and sides came out no more than five minutes later.
The fried chicken itself was really well done, with the breading on the outside crispy while the meat on the inside remained nice and moist. I tasted some seasoning in the breading that was to help give it a bit of kick, but thought the heat level was relatively mild. I’m not sure, however, if that’s just from a tolerance from eating spicy foods. I thought both the braised greens and mashed potatoes could have still used a bit more salt and pepper, but after my previous experience, I decided not to tempt fate once again.
Founding Farmers prides itself on being a scratch kitchen, and that is very evident when you take a bite into their food. Everything tastes very fresh, from the fried chicken to the biscuits to the deviled eggs. Between the D.C. and Tysons Corner locations, I think they both remained relatively consistent in terms of their food quality, level of service, and overall dining ambiance. If you haven’t yet given this place a try, it’s well worth the trip so you can formulate your own opinions on their American comfort food offerings.
Let’s now take a look at the Founding Farmers Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.
And finally, here are my rankings for Founding Farmers:
Food: 4.5 / 5
The restaurant leans towards a farm-to-table sourcing concept, and that shows in the freshness of the ingredients when you dig in. Although two of the sides on my spicy fried chicken dish needed some additional seasoning, the chicken was cooked very well, and the glazed bacon was still a hit just like last time.
Atmosphere: 4.75 / 5
I’m always a big fan of modern aesthetics when it comes to interior décor. I thought that the restaurant utilized a nice blend between drawing inspiration from a country farmhouse setting and blending that with the glass and lighting elements to help elevate that modern feel.
Service: 5 / 5
Definite shoutout to the dining room management team for taking an unfortunate incident and rectifying it very quickly. Our waiter, Mark, was also very attentive throughout service and came by a few times to check in and see how we were doing.
Price: 4.5 / 5
All things considered, I thought the pricing was pretty reasonable for almost all of our food items. The only one that I would question would be our glazed bacon lollis, clocking in at $12 for the plate. At a place like that, however, the price would also be reflective of the overall restaurant experience, on the quality of the food as well as the dining ambiance, both of which were excellent.