September 20, 2020

After watching the Amazon special on The Inn at Little Washington and learning about Chef Patrick O'Connell, how could you not want to come here? It's an incredible story of fortitude and forging a path which, certainly when he began, seemed a bit insane.

The Inn (and the few blocks it takes over) is well out of town in a rural part of Virginia outside Washington DC. I kept thinking "It can't be out HERE...can it?" But turn a corner and you're in a magical place with beautiful buildings and pristine landscaping.

Unlike many restaurants of this caliber, the menu is posted on their website. To be honest, I was underwhelmed by it. 5 courses? Duck OR veal? Why not both? My expectations were fairly low.

They should not have been.

The hospitality of this place can not be understated. It starts from driving into the small "town" that they are - where you feel that every building has been painted and flower planted for your enjoyment. It continues into the building where staff seem to have lived their entire lives for the moment to interact with you - hold a door, show you your table, pour your wine. Everything speaks to the idea that you are doing them the favor by being there.

The food was also stellar. Really, really stellar. Well conceived. Memorable and whimsical. Executed at such an extremely high level. 

I asked for both dishes (duck AND veal), so curious to see how their hospitality would handle the request. Without a blink - "Of course sir. Which would you prefer first? The kitchen has no specific recommendation." Wondering if the additional meal would be added to the bill, the waiter (anticipating my question when he brought the bill) said "Chef O'Connell is delighted you enjoyed both main dishes. No charge has been added." Perfectly handled.

I am looking forward to returning here. It's unique and different and makes you feel special every single second, a feeling that stuck with me for days.

 

Airpopped popcorn, parsley, topped with fresh shaved white truffle
Potato chip canoli filled with pimento cheese mousse
Croque Madam. Quail egg, gruyere cheese, country ham. That quail egg was perfection.
Chanterelle mushroom custard, sabayonne
Their signature dish - "tuna in the can".
Juniper-poached tuna, black truffle vinnagraite, fois gras, hudson valley cheddar crackers. It was phenomenal.
Elysian farms lamb carpaccio, slightly seared, croutons, caesar salad ice cream, capers, Caesar salad, parmesan snowflakes, basil pesto puree (SO good, they whip brioche into it) Next course (forgot to take a picture): Butter poached halibut, fennel pollen Dust, tomato water consume with a hint of sambuco, vegetables from their garden. Crazy good.
Prosciutto wrapped veal tenderloin, telleggio ravioli (think half way between ricotta and blue cheeses), chanterelle mushrooms, tomato cream, sage. Best dish of the night. I giggled at every bite of that tenderloin.
Spiced duck breast, pan seared hudson valley fois gras, candied fig, white sweet potato puree, wild rice pilaf, madeira cinammon sauce. Best fois gras I've ever had, but that puree stole the show.
Pallatte cleanser. Coconut, passion fruit pearls, ginger granita
Signature dessert - "Do I Dare To Eat A Peach?"
Based on a TS Eliot poem. The "peach" is actually a white chocolate cheesecake. Pomegranate-hibiscus sauce.
Sheet of dark chocolate with puffed rice and sea salt, cracked in front of you to reveal candied grapefruit rinds. "Chef loves a show!"
Killer tea selection.
"Your own personal Inn to take home. It's got some treats in it for you."
Southern old-school charm. The Inn owns most of these few blocks for rooms and various outbuildings. Most have placards out front to describe the building's history. The restaurant had uber-friendly and helpful folks out front in fun and playful uniforms.
The interior of the building is simply breathtaking - everywhere you look.
The dining room was gorgeous.
I went during COVID, so they were only seating every other table. At the unsat ones, they set up mannequins to help the dining room feel full. It was strange at first, but kinda worked.
This was the view from my table.

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