What to Eat at The Inn
After living in DC for five years, I am at long last going to eat my first meal at The Inn at Little Washington, to celebrate a major anniversary. It's my equivalent of a hajj to Mecca. I would appreciate hearing from anyone who's eaten there recently. I realize that the menu changes frequently, and that everything is good. But is there anything really sublime that should not be missed? It may be another five years before I am able to go back again.
I have had three meals at "The Inn" over the past twenty years. All have been disappointments considering my expectations.
First, if you go on Saturday you will spend $139 per person prix fixe plus wine which has a two to three hundred per cent mark up. With tax and tip and with only several bottles of red on the menu under $100 you will realistically spend north of $450 for the two of you. This is more than most three Michelin starred restaurants in Europe. If you sit in one of the two Chef's tables in the kitchen you will spend close to $400 PER PERSON.
You will receive excellent service in a sumptuous dining room with excellent food. The dessert they are known for, Seven Deadly Sins is excellent but it is not the dessert to die for that you might find in other three Michelin starred restaurants. (That is what I am comparing the Inn to.) Their menu changes frequently so there is probably no ONE dish that you can expect to find.
My real criticism is that this is an excellent meal but not an extraordinary one. I honestly believe that Obelisk and Citronelle in D. C. have as good of or better food. The principal difference is that Obelisk is $200 all in and Citronelle is $300. Obelisk's wine list is fair but limited while Citronelle's is expensive. Yet "The Inn" is through the roof.
What do I think is a great restaurant? El Raco de con Fabes outside of Barcelona or Dal Pescatore near Mantova, Italy. Both have three stars and both are slightly more than two thirds the cost of the Inn.
One of these days a major reviewer is going to go to the Inn and decide that someone is getting very rich on this place's reputation. As an evening for $300 it lives up to its reputation but not $450. If you must go then go on a weekday when it is less.
By the way did you know that their rooms run between $500 and $800 and half of them are in another building down the street?
If you must go and if you do spend the night try Four and Twenty Blackbirds in nearby Flint Hill the next day before you return. I'd be interested in your thoughts on comparing the two meals considering their respective costs.
Thanks for the thought provoking post. I'm going on a weekday evening, and not planning to spend the night. Even so, I know that it will be a major outlay of cash. However, it is our thirtieth anniversary, and we didn't do anything special to celebrate our twenty-fifth. Spending major bucks for a meal is by necessity a once in a very blue moon occasion. So, if not now, probably never. Then, there is the fact that Patrick O'C. won the James Beard Award for Best American Chef this year... We ate at Citronelle last year on my birthday, which was very pleasant, but not so memorable that I could tell you what I ate that night. We haven't been back since, either. I'll post back afterward to let you know how The Inn fared, compared with my expectations.
...since 4 and 20 was mentioned; I strongly recommend a trip out west to eat brunch there on a Sunday. Expect a good wait unless you're one of the lucky ones who get there early enough to get one of the first sittings. Absolutely fantastic the handful of times I've done it. And yes, compared to the $$$ at the Inn, this meal will fill and delight you without emptying the wallet.