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Inn at Little Washington or Citronelle

If your mission were to try to convert someone (with little fine dining experience) into a "Foodie" and you could take them either to The Inn at Little Washington or Citronelle, which would be more effective?

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  1. I'd go to Citronelle. I haven't eaten at Citronelle in DC but ate at the original Citronelle in Santa Babara years ago when Michel Richard was still there a lot and we absolutely loved our meal there. Last year, my wife and I went to the Inn at Little Washington and were, frankly, dissapointed. Though the service was excellent (although we must have been asked about 25 times, no exaggeration, "are you still enjoying?"...they were very keen on clearing plates) we found it all somewhat confining and a bit suffocating. We also found the decor to be over the top, which is clearly something many like...so I'm not dissparaging, we simply didn't care for the setting. Our tastes do tend to run a bit more toward the modern, so ultimately, it wasn't surprising that we didn't love the atmosphere.

    The real issue was the food which, with some real standouts (a minted pea soup that I can still remember the exact taste of was one of the best things I've ever eaten) missed on several courses. I had a foie gras and tuna dish that I literally had to ask for salt and pepper mills for.

    In trying to introduce someone to finer dining and show them interesing and exciting food...I think Citronelle is going to be more effective. They're a bit more creative than at the Inn and I think their style will allow for more flexibility and exploration of the food than at the Inn.

    1. Unfortunately, never ate at Citronelle.
      I found the Inn a great experience, and the food as good as anything I've ever had. The only possible objections are the long drive (actually enjoyable) and the prices.

      1 Reply
      1. re: foodcheck

        This, obviously has absolutely nothing to do with the food or service at the Inn...but on our way back to Charlottesville after dinner, our car was run into by a deer (yep, we didn't hit it, it hit us right in the driver's door of the car). So, the long drive might be more objectionable in some cases... :)

      2. I have eaten at both. Either would suffice to introduce (and impress) anyone to haute cuisine. However, I would suggest Citronelle. The Inn is quite a trek and not easy for a meal unless you stay there. Also, Michele Richard's cooking has a playful nature that appeals to me; Patrick O'Connell's takes himself a bit too seriously. Both are superb but I'd take a newbie to the closer of the two.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Dakota Guy

          The Inn is an all-around delightful experience. You need not stay at the Inn itself, which is tres cher, but at any of a number of reasonably-priced B&Bs and inns nearby--dont plan on driving back to DC.

          I have not eaten at Citronelle, DC, but there was one in Baltimore for a few yrs that was wonderful. I have also eaten in the one in santa Barbara twice. The first time was fabulous; the second time 2 yrs ago, was close to ordinary. On the other hand, the chatter on this site really makes me want to to the one in DC.

        2. I guess Citronelle.

          I think that CityZen and Maestro are better restaurants than either of them, though. Maestro might be a bit "too much" for attempting to convert someone. 2941 or Charlie Palmers would work as well.

          1. Citronelle. I remember my parents trying to drag me to IaLW for years, and the very thought of that long drive was enough to make me say no way. And I'm a pretty big foodie. Then again, I'm also a big fan of not having to take long drives. The ease of getting to Citronelle (I'm guessing you're within the DC area) will help in making your friend feel comfortable. And Citronelle IS incredible.