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Apr 10, 2008 07:06 AM

Visiting Inn at Little Washington later this month...

Any recent experiences there...what should we look for? Any other dining spots of interest from there to Monticello? Thanks, chowhounds...

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  1. Dh and I went there last September for my birthday. It was our third visit and absolutely wonderful. Are you staying there? That makes the whole experience IMO. Everything we had was wonderful and if you love cheese, save room for cheese at the end of the meal. Also if you stay overnight, the breakfast is the unsung hero of the Inn.

    If you are going through Culpeper on your way to Charlottesville, have lunch (or dinner) at It's About Thyme. Lovely place with lots of fresh herbs, good pasta, and fabulous fresh salads.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Janet from Richmond

      I'm also going to the Inn later this month -- celebrating my 60th birthday there on April 30. We'ver eaten there numerous times but this will be our frirst overnight stay; we're very much looking forward to it. I think you can't go wrong with anything on the menu.

      If indeed you're going through Culpeper, there are a couple of other good places there, Foti's and The Hazel River Inn. My favorite is Foti's (which is owned and run by a couple who'd previously been at the Inn.)

      1. re: chriscatva

        That same trip to IALW, we spent one night in Culpeper and had a drink at Foti's and it's a lovely place. The owners could not have been more hospitable. It was negligent of me not to mention them. Thanks for the reminder :-)

    2. Iron Bridge Wine Company is in Warrenton. I've not been to that location, but I've had very good experiences at their sister restaurant of the same name in Columbia.

      If you are not staying at the Inn, I highly recommend the Foster Harris House inn down the street. Their breakfast was heavenly -- we actually liked it even better than the breakfast we had at the Inn when we stayed there -- not that that was bad, mind you :)

      Also, if you ask, the staff at the Inn will give you a tour of the kitchen after dinner -- that's a fun treat.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Lauman

        We also had a wonderful stay at the Foster Harris House. The owners have winery cycle tours in the summer and can provide recommendations for which wineries to visit. We were surprised and impressed by the quality of wine coming out of Virginia, and there are a dozen wineries that are within a 20 minute drive. I wouldn't pass up on that opportunity.

        1. re: Lauman

          Iron Bridge in Warrenton isn't very good... Rude service from prissy girls and weird food in a cold space. We ordered Prosecco and the bartender explained what it was to us, as if we didn't know, even though we first had it in the Veneto. Wouldn't recommend it.

          1. re: sarahinthecity

            Not that I dont agree with your assessment, but how is the bartender supposed to know you had prosecco in veneto? Sheesh

            1. re: Turkeybone

              Haha yeah, I know. I just meant its a odd thing to order if you've never had it before. So, I didn't know why she felt the need to explain what it was to us.

            2. re: sarahinthecity

              I've also been unimpressed by the Warrenton Iron Bridge, particularly the service. Once, when I ordered one of the flights of 3 wines, the server didn't know which was which when she delivered them to the table. At a supposedly serious wine place, they clearly should assume the patrons are interested in actually experiencing and comparing the different wines, not just in having 3 glasses to drink! Sometimes the service has been very slow even when no one else was eating there. And the food is indeed sometimes "weird" -- combinations that just don't work well; I've been there 4 or 5 times and never had a memorable dish. It's also rather pricey for what you get. (I do like the space, though, myself.)

              It's too bad; it seems like such a good idea!

          2. It is the best dining experience around, hands down. They usually have lobster of some sort; it melted in my mouth!! For the rest of your trip, I would recommend the restaurant in the Keswick Inn, about 5 miles east of Charlottesville. IT is also a great place to stay. Alot less spendy than the IALW but very elegant. The building and the grounds totally remind me of Tuscany.

            1. Thanks, chowhounds for the wonderful tips...we will definately put them to use as we tour the area...any other foodie thoughts about this itinerary?

              2 Replies
              1. re: gutreactions

                Foti's is an outpost of English civility in a town whose name could have been Mayberry except its founding fathers decided on Culpeper. The hundred plus year old building houses a very personal and private restaurant with a dark brown pressed tin ceiling and wooden floors to match with chandeliers, recessed lighting and table top candles, an exposed brick wall lining one entire side and occasional Grecian columns outlining a particular area of this very special and romantic dining fantasy. With subdued lighting and exuberant staff along with the escapist small town charm this is an extraordinary setting for what is the best new restaurant of 2006 for the Greater Washington area. Foti’s captures the charm and sophistication of Georgetown or Old Town while retaining the warmth and innocent appeal of a sleepy southern hamlet where Juliet might be enraptured with the cuisine of Romeo-if he were a chef. Even Verona has nothing on this setting for dining and romantic indulgence. In Culpeper Juliet is named Sue and Romeo is Frank. Both met in Little Washington at The Inn. They and six or seven others from The Inn, over time, have moved here to create a truly special place in the Mid Atlantic.

                Foti’s now has a three week wait for a table on Fridays and Saturdays because of rave reviews in both the Washington Post and Washingtonian. With the connection of the chef and hostess along with the former sommelier from The Inn at Little Washington, Foti’s has already been adopted by the Washington Press as the most recent outpost of Great Cuisine. And it justly is. Last night my wife and I did our best to work our way through its menu.

                A signature dish of a Great restaurant is one which literally causes your mouth to open, to uncontrollably exclaim “Wow” when it is served. To deeply inhale its enthralling effluvia, to moan after savoring its first taste, to breathe heavily and evenly after swallowing the first orgasmic bite. “Vanilla roasted Maine lobster with Jonny cakes and a Chardonnay butter sauce” is such a dish. Live lobster is roasted and shelled then the lobster meat is sautéed with chardonnay butter, lobster stock is added and then reduced down with caramelized sugar. All of this is plated on top of several Rhode Island Jonny Cake discs with the sauce drizzled around and over. Simply, a Great dish worth of The Inn nearby or The Fat Duck, the three Michelin star and one of England’s two best restaurants near the home of Sue Maragos, Frank’s wife and partner who together open Foti's. Sue moved here five years ago from her home near the Cotswolds, apprenticed at The Inn and now with her husband has moved onto a national stage much sooner than either of them may have anticipated.

                A “fried egg sandwich on garlic toasted Ciabatta with baby arugula, Virginia country ham and parmesan cheese” is another signature first course. Inventive, imaginative, excellent. Still, a short step below the imaginatively delicious excess of the vanilla lobster. “Olive oil poached tomatoes on a roasted garlic and fresh herb crust with sautéed winter vegetables” is a vegetarian entrée that we had as a middle course. It was delicious.

                For entrees two signatures stand out: “seafood paella with shrimp and lobster on Jasmine rice with a saffron scented tomato broth” and “Surf and Turf a la Greque” which is a “grilled beef tenderloin and pan seared shrimp with lemon roasted potatoes, sautéed broccolini and a Byzantine sauce.” The seafood paella is an Americanized version of the Valencian dish, but no less for this. Fresh lobster and fresh shrimp along with chunks of San Marzano tomatoes nestled in Jasmine rice highlighted an excellent version of the Spanish classic. The “turf” portion of the “La Greque” included a filet which was as flavorful as any I have had on this side of the Atlantic. Succulently delicious, a savory worth savoring every bite.

                Desserts actually came up a step short: chocolate pots de crème were very good but not over the top good as, say, the pots de crème from Susan Wallace at Black Salt. A “chocolate mousse tower on a roasted cocoa bean and hazelnut shortbread drizzled with a citrus and vanilla clear caramel sauce” was very, very good. But similarly not quite up to the level of the first two courses.

                The hospitality and warmth of Foti’s is distinctly European, perhaps Sue would say English for where she is from. Every customer is made to feel special, every table for each server and each assistant is set as the only table in the room. While there are other tables it is only yours' that matters. This is not The Inn. But it may be the English, perhaps the French countryside in a small town where one stops in and is accepted as a guest, the only guest in a house where the guest is all that matters. Foti’s is a cross between Southern hospitality and charm and European romance and style. All in a small town sixty miles and sixty minutes south of the Beltway, but a Century and an ocean apart from anything else available here. The three week wait for weekends is only going to get longer; soon there will be a wait for weeknights. This is, indeed, a special place that only reinforces the Greater Washington area as one of America’s best. We are very lucky that Foti’s opened here. It could just as easily been near the Cotswolds as it is in Culpeper.

                1. re: Joe H

                  Let me put in a plug for the wine dinners Foti's is now doing on the last Sunday night of each month. Frank prepares special dishes to pair with the wines -- always terrific. We've been trying to go every month :-).

              2. Thanks once again, chowhounds...any good dining suggestions on the Monticello-Charlottesville end of the trip? Any price range..would appreciate your furthur suggestions.

                1 Reply
                1. re: gutreactions

                  First off, ditto to the Foster Harris House recommendation.. Great B&B for 1/3 the price of the Inn. And it's fun to compare IALW dinner notes the with everyone at breakfast the next morning ; )

                  On the way to C'ville, I highly recommend the Bavarian Chef. Hearty, wonderful food. It's right on Rt. 29 probably 15 miles out of town. A little further down 29 closer to town is El Agave, which is cheap but yummy Mexican. Also outside of town (on Rt. 20 which is a gorgeous drive on a nice day and my favorite way to enter C'ville) at Barboursville Vineyards I highly recommend Palladio Restaurant. Traditional, but upscale Italian. Call way ahead for reservations. And the vineyards are a great place to spend the day, or night. They now have 4 suites on the property that look gorgeous, as well as two log cabins that they've renovated. Wonderfully rustic but cozy. Don't know how much time you have but also nearby, I'd recommend Keswick Vineyards for wine tasting and a beautiful place to linger outdoors and bring a picnic. Other good restaurants in C'ville near Monticello are C&O (my favorite), Duner's, Etoile, and La Fleur. Rhett's Seafood bar and grill is also good, it's right on 29 just before enter town.