The Seven Best Lines from Tom Sietsema’s Epic Founding Farmers Slam

Photograph via iStock.

They are exceedingly rare, but the days when Washington Post critic Tom Sietsema bestows exactly zero stars on a restaurant are a little like Christmas. So many delicious zingers to uncover! And today, with his assessment of faux-bucolic behemoth Founding Farmers, we got a new entrant into the Starless Wonder Club. To put that in perspective, even “ATM with a dishwasher” Mussel Bar and “threat to our nation” La Tagliatella merited a 1/2 star.

Herewith, our seven favorite lines.

-“Whoever penned the epic menu, invariably sticky from fingers other than my own, apparently didn’t want to leave a soul behind.”

-“Slices of soft, sepia-toned ‘Many Vegetable Mushroom Loaf’ lead me to believe salt must be a vegetable.”

-“Had my waiter inquired, my posse would have told him the swamp posing as shrimp and grits was about as close to the southern model as rap is to opera.”

-“The best part of the goat cheese burger has nothing to do with the unfortunate sandwich but with the squat brown paper bag alongside it. Inside are potato chips. They’re okay.”

-“‘I feel like I’m in a cafeteria,’ a companion says on a recent weeknight on the second floor, where a flock of ceramic birds floats above our heads. (I would envy them their freedom, but they’re just as stuck here as we are.)”

-“On any given night, the sound equivalents in the dining room fall between that of a garbage disposal and a passing diesel truck.”

-“On my sixth visit, hoping to crack the restaurant’s appeal, I bought ‘The Founding Farmers Cookbook,’ copies of which are locked in display cases and must be retrieved by a manager. (Plan to wait 10 minutes or more, and spend $40. Counter to what the restaurant delivers, the fetching food photography and homespun advice in the book practically had me humming ‘America the Beautiful.’) I couldn’t help but notice a plug on the back of the recipe collection from a former president of the North Dakota Farmers Union — the entity behind this sad state of affairs. Maybe Alice Waters was busy.”

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.