The Inn at Little Washington

I still have my Williamsburg posts and a slew of other backlog, but I’m skipping ahead for this momentous occasion: dinner at The Inn at Little Washington. I finally had occasion to go, and it being The Inn and all, I wanted to blog about it while it was still fresh in my mind. I had, of course, heard amazing things about this place for a long while, but its location (an hour and half drive into remote countryside) and price tag always suggested that this would be for special occasions only. Somehow though, one has to make the occasion, and that in itself becomes special. I think yesterday was the ideal time to go: taxes were done, old friends had been met, and the weather was gorgeous. Why not celebrate, just because?

The drive down was lovely, as we took a hilly two lane road through miles and miles of farmlands and vineyards (I’m sure we passed several farmer’s markets and wineries..) It was scenic and felt like we were really far out there, an escape from the city. We arrived a few minutes early, so we popped into the gift shop next door to the inn, and also walked around the patio behind the restaurant to admire the koi pond and tulip garden.


Fishies!

This was a cute gazebo. X)

The tulips were so colorful! The tables in the dining room were all adorned with fresh tulips as well.

We could’ve sat at this table by the garden, but we chose to sit inside. I would love to come back to have afternoon tea at this exact table, someday!

They were still “preparing the dining room” when we arrived for our dinner, so they escorted us to sit for a while in the “living room.” This was the light hanging above us. The living room was plush and decadent, but not too pretentious, which I loved. It was exquisite but still comfortable, an approachable kind of luxury. I found the dining room similarly decorated. There was a touch of whimsy to the decor that made you feel right at home.

All right, enough about the looks of the place. Onward to the food! There were two options for us: A la Carte, a four course dinner for $168, or the “Gastronaut’s Menu”, a ten course tasting menu for $208 (or $308 for wine pairing). We went for the a la carte, because 10 courses sounded like too much food, and besides – between the two of us, we could try up to eight different dishes of our choosing! By the way, the menus were personalized, and they were given to us to take home after the meal! So if you’re like me and take pictures of the menu, you don’t have to bother. ;)

Pictured at the top is my friend’s first course, chilled Maine lobster with citrus marinated hearts of palm, avocado and a peppercorn gastrique. Fabulous! Loved the different textures and flavors of this dish. There was a hint of vanilla in one of the sauces, which was quite interesting. You can go so wrong in mixing vanilla with savory dishes, but it really worked here.

Rewinding back to the amuse bouche courses: pork belly (always amazing), and chips and dip with caviar, chives and sour cream. Wow! Loved both of these. The chips and dip was especially refreshing to start.

Our second round of amuse, a cheese puff (love the pedestal) and local asparagus soup. This was possibly the best soup I’ve ever had in my life. The asparagus was so intense and fresh! I think the fact that it was warm rather than chilled just made it all the better.

My first course: carpaccio of herb crusted baby lamb with Caesar salad ice cream. I was so intrigued by the savory ice cream, I just had to give this a try. It was most definitely Caesar salad ice cream. XD I felt like I was trying something from Iron Chef! The chilled dressing in ice cream form was so much fun to have with a slice of the crisp lettuce. The carpaccio was tender and seasoned just right.

My friend got macaroni and cheese with Virgina country ham for her second course, which came highly recommended by our waiter. The accolades were definitely well deserved. This was unlike any mac and cheese I ever had. There was a hint of truffle, which made it a little more sophisticated, though the presentation itself certainly set it off as something pretty special already. The pasta had a nice bite to it, and the cheese was just rich enough.

For my second course, I chose grilled breast of young pigeon marinated in blueberry vinegar on a zucchini crêpe. Blueberries and gamey bird clearly make a winning combination. The pigeon was perfectly cooked, though you can’t really see the wonderful pink color it had from this angle. The only downside of this dish was the crêpe, which unfortunately got a little soggy under the sauce.

Main course: curry dusted veal sweetbreads with morels, Virginia country ham and pappardelle pasta. I only had a bite of this, since I was already pretty full by the time the main course came around… The sweetbreads had an amazing crispy crust, and the sauce was oozing in the flavor of morels. Amazing. Definitely a very rich finish.

My main course was little lighter: miniature filet of code saute with lemon vodka sauce and lilliputian shrimp dumplings. Still, I had to take some of this home because I had to leave room for dessert! Loved this dish as well! The fish was delicate and light, pairing well with the pop of shrimp shumai-like dumplings. Loved the lemony creamy sauce.

Dessert course: called “A Spring Fling”, this is a miniature strawberry-rhubarb crisp with limoncello pudding cake and rhubarb frozen yogurt. Ooooh my goodness amazing. The pudding cake was fluffy and gorgeous! The crisp had a great crust and was piping hot on the inside, with just the right amount of sweet and tart. The rhubarb yogurt was surprising and fun!

I had the warm granny smith apple tart with buttermilk ice cream, which was phenomenal. They place the scoop of ice cream on top tableside, so I was able to see what the tart looked like before. The apples were arranged in such a way that it looked like the petals of a flower. Was sorry I didn’t take a photo beforehand. The tart had a very thin layered crust, which was a nice change from a lot of fruit tarts I’ve had, where the tart shell is like a dense, hard cookie. The plate had trails of cinnamon sugar, which was a nice sweet touch against the tartness of the apples. By the way, dessert comes with coffee or tea. x)

As the meal winded down, they brought us these precious Inn at Little Washington mini boxes! And inside…

There were cookies, chocolates and candied fruit. What a sweet way to end the perfect dinner!

Needless to say, I cannot wait to go back again. The Inn has an ever changing menu according to the seasons, so I’m sure the next time I have occasion to come, I’ll be amazed all over again. ♥

17 Apr 2012, 11:34am
by Nevin Martell

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Great post! The only downside? Now I’m hungry as all heck.

Yummy! I know the Inn at Little Washington is quite famous; I’m glad it lived up to its reputation.

 

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