Founders Tavern & Grille is a modern tavern in Pasadena. It's not like heading to Williamsburg, Virginia, but it has that vibe, with wood floors, exposed beams, hanging lights, and lots of old-timey decor — a prominent U.S. Cowpens flag, copies of ancient maps, antique bottles, photos and an Indian chief bust.
Diners may eat inside or outdoors under covered tables with twinkle lights.
My father and I arrived between lunch and dinnertime when the place was pretty chill, and Bob Dylan and The Eagles were playing in the background.
Our waitress, Kearsten, was polite, knowledgeable and efficient. We chose Founders’ Maryland crab soup for appetizers, and we were both pleasantly surprised. While there wasn't a ton of crab meat, it was bursting with flavor. The soup was satisfying with the homemade seasonings, tomatoes, potatoes, green beans, other vegetables and crab. I didn't read ahead of time that Founders is known for its award-winning crab soup, but I can see why. It's one of the best soups I've had in some time, and I could quickly grab a bowl for a delightful lunch treat.
For entrees, I chose the shrimp and grits, and my dad picked the Lenten special — fish and chips.
Kearsten quickly delivered the food, which was nicely presented. The large gulf shrimp was topped with South Carolina grits, covered with chicken gravy, with bacon bits and scallions. The shrimp were tender and tasty, making a good combo with the grits. I wasn't a fan of the chicken gravy on top and would have preferred more cheese. The scallions add a nice sharp contrast to the blander taste of the grits. This dish would have appealed to someone who likes chicken gravy more than I do. It's a matter of preference.
As often happens, I really liked my companion's fish and chips more than my meal, and that was surprising because, well, fish and chips seem boring, but not here. The crispy fried (not greasy) tender cod hit the spot, especially with the po' boy dressing, which ratcheted up the taste. The dressing tasted like a combination of Cajun and tartar sauce. My dad and I were both fans. The dressing had a zing.
The fish came with warm homemade French fries, cut thin and fried crisp. My dad oohed and ahhed over them.
The finale was an apple crumb pie that reminds me of an old-fashioned apple fritter you get at fall festivals. It had a crispy shell and a soft, tender dough underneath, all topped with caramelized apples. But the best part was the bourbon whipped cream. You need to ask for more — probably triple the amount would do it!
The menu offers many great possibilities: bourbon salmon, meatloaf, baby back ribs, pasta, fried chicken, pizzas and sandwiches — including hot roast beef — and shrimp tacos.
The restaurant owners strive to connect with local family farms to provide sustainably grown fresh food. Founders’ “declaration” on its webpage states that sauces, dressing and desserts are all made fresh. Pizza dough and bread are made in-house every morning.
Founders offers Sunday brunch, lunch and dinner options, and cocktails to match the tavern's nod to history — The Founders Manhattan, Jefferson Mule, Revolutionary Vieux Carre, Washington Cherry Tree and seasonal drinks.
Other specialties included Rhubarb & Rosemary, a historic cocktail from the 1930s called "The French Quarter," and other specialty drinks and craft beers.
Keep Founders in mind as you travel the Pasadena/Severna Park roadway. It's worth a trip.
Where To Find Founders
8125 Ritchie Highway, Pasadena