In-Still-Able

Founding Spirits is the Farmers Restaurant Group’s venture into distilling at a new facility in Farmers & Distillers and is currently producing vodka and amaro.

Still to Table

It’s finally here. The highly anticipated third DC establishment in the Farmers Restaurant Group opened in December, after months of rumors, planning, and construction. Located in the brand-new glass building at the intersection of Sixth Street and Massachusetts Avenue NW, Farmers & Distillers hopes to build on the wild success of its older sisters – the original Founding Farmers in Foggy Bottom (as well as its satellite locations in Tysons and Montgomery County) and Farmers Fishers Bakers in Georgetown.

The hook? Not only does Farmers and Distillers have, as its name suggests, its own distillery, but it also features a prominently located bakery, where donuts are put on display to get you excited for dessert before you even glance at the cocktail menu. The restaurant group has titled its in-house distilling venture Founding Spirits. While Founding Spirits vodka is available in drinks and for purchase, the amaro isn’t quite ready yet, but should be soon, as your server will tell you.  

At Farmers & Distillers you’ll be overwhelmed with incredible options from the get-go. I recommend going for the in-house taste of their vodka which is distilled on-site; and the featured Cucumber Delight is just that: delightful. Combining the refreshing taste of cucumber with the mild bite of ginger makes for a well-balanced drink that’s enjoyable year-round. If you’re interested in exploring the amaro, try the Farmer Jon’s Sour, which blends the liqueur with bourbon and cognac for a hearty, robust drink.

It’s not a Farmers Restaurant without a full complement of exceptional appetizers. The crispy vegetables are basically onion rings made with a variety of different veggies, and the Parmesan pound cake is a savory take on the traditional dessert, like a cross between a biscuit and cornbread. An order of dumplings will keep your whole table happy.

Entree salads offer the ability to add a protein, and the Rainbow Salad is perfect for the beet lover (I can’t get enough beets). The menu offers many different categories of foods, but the real treats are in the steak and seafood sections. While you can’t go wrong with any steak, the signature Proper Prime Rib Roast Beef Supper is a tender, moist, perfectly cooked masterpiece. For the fish lover, try the fish of the day (I had rock), and go with the Hong Kong-style preparation; the bok choy and soy sauce enhance rather than overwhelm the fish’s flavor. Finish your meal with a $1 donut, the devil’s food, chocolate, or cinnamon sugar, though they’re all amazing.

Due to the wide variety of options and prices, you can expect to spend anywhere from $20 to $50 and higher per person. Farmers & Distillers can be found at 600 Massachusetts Ave. NW and www.farmersanddistillers.com.

Meesa Eat-sa

I know, I’m the worst. You just saw the amazing spectacle that is “Rogue One,” and I had to ruin it by dropping a Jar Jar reference. But it’s a solid pun and I apologize for nothing.

For over a year, eatsa has been making waves nationwide with its unprecedented approach to fast-casual dining: a fully-automated purchasing process with no cashiers. And the prices reflect that. All bowls cost $7 (with optional add-ons), but come in larger portions than other fast-casual restaurants with similar dishes. The prices are lower because eatsa does not have to pay salaries for customer-facing employees. However, an attendant present at all times makes sure there are no problems or mistakes on orders.

The K Street location is the sixth restaurant eatsa has opened since its first San Francisco franchise in August 2015. DC joins San Francisco, Woodland Hills, Berkeley, and New York as towns with an eatsa.

The Achilles’ heel of restaurants with an unprecedented setup is that they often sacrifice food quality for innovation. Not so at eatsa. “Fortunately,” according to co-founder Scott Drummond, “once customers give us a try, they almost always come back!” Drummond continued, “With our range of over 60 ingredients and numerous flavor profiles, we’ve got a satisfying solution for every taste.”

The eatsa menu, in addition to being all vegetarian, with many vegan and gluten-free options, has 10 different lunch/dinner bowls. As Drummond notes, they offer a wide variety of tastes, from Japanese (the bento bowl, with edamame and teriyaki sauce) to Mexican (the burrito bowl features guacamole, salsa, queso, and more) to Mediterranean (try the hummus and falafel bowl which includes moist and spicy falafel), and everything in between. Though I’ve tried several bowls, my favorite has to be the aloha bowl and its combination of orange miso, edamame, pickled ginger, and more. All bowls are made with a quinoa base, because, according to the eatsa website, it is a gluten-free superfood with protein and essential nutrients that “can absorb flavors and sauces, making it the perfect base for all kinds of deliciousness.”

Find eatsa at 1627 K St. NW and www.eatsa.com.

Distill, Still?

Yes, there’s another new distillery in the DC scene. DC Noodles’ neighbor District Distilling Co. opened in August. Since its first vodka run finished in early September, it has been offering four different varieties of homemade liquors to pair with its vibrant, classy bar scene. 

As you enter the building on U Street, you pass by the retail store as well as part of the distillery. The restaurant has two bars and plenty of space to mill about, even during a private event. DC’s first combination distillery, restaurant, and bar has both classic and innovative options for food and drink. The food menu is pricey, but you’ll know where that money went. Chorizo-stuffed quail and venison-loin stroganoff and egg noodles anchor a diverse menu. Definitely go for the bourbon pecan pie a la mode to finish off.

Before you get to the food, several classic cocktails (such as the bonded Manhattan, daquiri and the whiskey sour) and an impressive draft menu featuring only beers from DC, Maryland, and Virginia will give you options outside of my personal recommendation, which is a flight. 

The Manhattan and martini flights are amazing, but every customer should try the District Distilling flight. You’ll start with the incredibly easy, subtle taste of their rye-based vodka, with the grainy taste that rye whiskey drinkers love. Next, the gin will start mild, then build into a bigger taste with a little bite, then fade quickly. The third drink is a strong white rum that has a sweetness to it with a small flash of tart at the end. Finish it off with the beautifully smooth and sweet bourbon with just a tiny nibble of harshness on the finish and a lingering maltiness.

Cocktails run $10-15; food is mostly in the mid-$20s, flights are all $20, beers are under $10, and most wines are in the teens. Find District Distilling Co. at 1414 U St. NW and www.district-distilling.com.

Max Moline is a communications specialist living in DC. He frequents Nationals Park and enjoys writing about food as much as he does eating it. He’s always looking for new places to try. Rooftops and cigar lounges are a plus! Get in touch: molinecommunications@gmail.com; @MaxMoline425.


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