December 2, 2010
*Photos: Rachel Lincoln/DC Spotlight
In terms of both its physical address and its social position, Farmers and Fishers is a restaurant that occupies an important spot in Washington, DC’s restaurant scene.
This sister restaurant to Foggy Bottom’s wildly successful Founding Farmers, has an ideal address on Georgetown’s up-and-coming Washington Harbor. The prime real estate means that there is never a shortage of crowds. This has proven especially true during the summer months, when the large front windows open up and tables of patrons pour out onto the patio to enjoy the attractivebackdrop of Teddy Roosevelt Island. But lately, the entire enclave of Georgetown restaurants — Farmers and Fishers, in particular — has taken towelcoming the arrival of winter, when tourists and holiday shoppers flock to the neighborhood. To ring in the coming of winter, Farmers and Fishers plans to take part in the third annual Merriment in Georgetown Festival on Sunday, December 5th, by sending its own “Roaming Farmer” into the streets to deliver gift cards and free samples of cider.
Lest you should wonder if this cider — or any of the wide selection of food and drink Farmers and Fishers has to offer – is homemade, the answer is, remarkably, yes. Pointing to his mammoth Wisconsin cheeseburger ($14) — squeezed between two grilled cheese sandwich buns and served next to a heaping pile of fries — executive chef Stephen Bieker emphasizes, “Everything that goes on the plate is made in house.” Specifically, he is referencing his tour de force burger, but he might as well be referring to just about any dish on the extensive menu. Even the cranberry juice used in many of the cocktails is the restaurant’s own recipe.
This kind of culinary self-reliance is essential in helping Farmers and Fishers to meet its two highest priorities: a commitment to incorporating local produce into its cuisine and serving the freshest dishes possible. “The Mission at Farmers & Fishers is farmer-approved food and drink,” says communications director Jennifer Resick Williams. She recites what seems to be the restaurant’s unofficial motto: “What that means is maintaining the integrity of how the original food was supposed to taste.” Farmers and Fishers takes many of these original tastes from the farms in nearby Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. As diners have become increasingly conscious of where their food is coming from, Farmers and Fishers’ social conscience seems like a novelty: a clever marketing plan that is also deeply ethical.
One of the greatest pleasures to be had at Farmers and Fishers comes from seeing the kitchen’s fresh take on some of the most common menu items. Hummus platters are a fixture at plenty of local restaurants, but few places offer the same delectable delights you will find here. A pile of homemade Navajo bread accompanies creamy hummus and various other fixings, including a sun-dried tomato tapenade ($12). A little further off the beaten trail are the Ahi Tuna Rollups ($14), round bites of raw tuna, topped with fresh avocado and splashed with sesame and vinegar. Off the trail entirely is one of the restaurant’s trademark dishes: Chocolate-Dipped Bacon Lollipops ($9) – six of them stuck into an apple base. While the unlikely combination of brown sugar-glazed bacon, smothered in chocolate, is admittedly not for all tastes, the dark chocolate complements the smoky bacon, making the concoction work. Traditionalists (or at least, those who can’t bring themselves to consume both chocolate and bacon before their entree is served) may prefer the Fresh Beet and Warm Goat Cheese Watercress Salad ($12), a green forest of fresh produce, with a breaded hunk of the rich cheese.
Like the other sections of the menu, the entree column contains a balanced collection of traditional favorites with innovative touches – and creative uses of fresh fruits and veggies at every turn. The Prosciutto Pizza ($14), for example, one of the eight varieties of pizza that are among the most popular entrees, contains a very thin layer of sweet fig jam to provide a contrast to the savory La Quercia Proscuitto — cured domestically, of course. The Hawaiian Ribeye ($24), juicy enough on its own terms, is unexpectedly accompanied by a chutney of either pineapple or peach, depending on which one is in season. Truck-Style Tacos ($10-$12), another popular favorite of the regulars, are served three to a platter and are stuffed with red cabbage, cilantro and meat or fish.
Portion sizes are never a problem at Farmers and Fishers, particularly when serving up dessert. Cake and pie (of which there are nine varieties) are the highlights. Whole pies are served in small individual sizes (one for $3, three for $8), thus giving guests the rare opportunity to eat entire pies without feeling like gluttons. However, be warned. One “slice” of cake is equivalent to roughly four of these pies. Apparently, “farmer-approved food and drink” must be served in truly generous portions at Farmers and Fishers. Bon appétit!