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Jun 14, 2009 07:56 PM

En Route to Inn at Little Washington

We're going to the IALW on Saturday evening for my 30th birthday and are staying overnight (at one of the nearby, more reasonably-priced B&B's instead of dropping a minimum of $750 on what I understand is a small, old room).
We'll be driving from DC on Saturday and wanted to have a leisurely drive out there, but on the way were hoping to stop somewhere cute and quaint for lunch. While I know that it will be a big meal Saturday night, our reservation isn't until 9 pm, so we'd like to grab a bite around noon or 1 to hold us over until dinner time. We don't need a huge meal but are looking for recommendations on the way for lunch and/or wineries. An added plus if it's a winery that serves lunch!

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  1. Check out the French Hound bistro in Middleburg. Cute and quaint. And good!

    1. It's been quite some time since I visited the IALW, but I recall that upon our arrival we were served a lovely afternoon tea (about 4p.m.).

      So, if you have a nice lunch, then partake of the tea service, you'll be fine until your 9p.m. dinner reservation. FoiGras

      4 Replies
      1. re: FoiGras

        Foi: Thanks but we're not staying at the IALW. We're staying at the Fairlea Farm B&B.
        Bob: Thank you for your restaurant rec.

        Any suggestions for wineries on the way? So far I've read a bit about Unicorn and Gray Ghost.

        1. re: KWynn

          Oops! Sorry. I should have read your post a bit more carefully. In any event, I think that you'll love the dinner at the IALW. I've seen only a few complaints. I recall that our meal was divine.

          We stayed at the Inn. Yes, indeed, it was expensive. But our suite was lovely. And the DINNER, WOW! FoiGras

          1. re: FoiGras

            I am not a fan of The Inn. I wrote this almost six years ago on our fourth visit to it over a 20 year period: The Inn is beyond expensive: if you sit at one of two Chef's Tables in the kitchen on Saturday you are paying $178 prix fixe plus $450 per party (up to six) suppliment. Let's assume that four people are doing this. That's $290.50 per person prix fixe. With wine off of a list that may have the highest markup within 100 miles you are looking at over $100 a bottle (for two people) which now brings you to $691. With VA tax and 20% tip that's $876 per couple for dinner. If you do not sit in the kitchen the tab including a $100 bottle (which, again, is one of the cheaper bottles) is $456 + tax & 20% tip or $574 for two. Hope that you are not given one of the tables in a room, actually a hallway so narrow that you are forced to move your chair to allow their "cow" cheese cart to pass by.

            On Saturday night a suite at The Inn has two suppliments for a total price with tax of $1186 per night. This is a "standard" suite, not one of the larger ones and there is a fair chance you will not be in the same building but will have to walk up the street to dinner.

            I have a different standard for a $2000 + dinner and hotel room for one night than I do for, say, Komi (admittedly an entirely different experience). Or even Per Se. I expect at a minimum, a Michelin three star experience by European standards.

            There was a James Beard House dinner at Maestro several years ago which included every D. C. area chef who had won a Beard Award, each preparing a dish. I thought that Patrick O'Connell's was the best of the night. Clearly, he has the talent to be among America's greatest chefs. He certainly has proven it time and time again. I also believe that Phyllis Richman's "official" retirement dinner was at The Inn-further confirmation of his excellence.

            But four times I/we have gone and four times we have left disappointed. Note that what I wrote in the above link was the summer of '03. I said we would not return and we have not. I honestly hope that Kwynn has an extraordinary experience for her 30th birthday. But two anniversaries, a 40th birthday and a 50th birthday, all disappointments, are the reason that I type this.

            To be fair on our last visit The Inn had been demoted to three stars by Tom Sietsema. Today, it is back up to four. The Inn is also the long standing Temple for haute celebrations with reams of reviews confirming the transcendental indulgence.

            We have just not been so lucky.

            1. re: Joe H

              The cost is one reason we haven't been to the IALW. To top it off, our anniversary is in October and there's another charge ($150 or $100) per room. We could fly somewhere for a nice weekend and still be under what it would cost. I wonder if the economy has affected them at all.

      2. I haven't been in over a year but I liked J's Gourmet in Front Royal for fresh sandwiches and they pack a nice picnic lunch. From the look of their web-site, they've remodeled and made it more upscale but it still looks like the same type of food.
        The new name is element but the restaurant Apt 2g is still there.

        On the way out, I like Naked Mountain vineyard in Markam. I like the wine (the whites mostly, though I'm not a big white wine person) but you can't beat the tasting room which has huge glass windows overlooking the mountain. They occasionally serve special meals but probably bigger than you want. Have fun at the IALW. I'd love to read the report.

        Naked Mountain Vineyard
        2747 Leeds Manor Rd, Markham, VA 22643

        J's Gourmet
        206 South Royal Avenue, Front Royal, VA

        1 Reply
        1. re: chowser

          Oh I forgot to say that J's Gourmet is owned by a couple who used to work at the IALW.

        2. Happy Birthday!

          Thornton River Grille in Sperryville would be a very nice lunch spot. They are about 10 minutes from the IALW and have a great lunch and dinner menu. The weblink is There are a few places in Sperryville to walk around and visit -- a few antique places, a nice pottery place and a gallery or two. I think there is also an ice cream place there to if you can do lunch, ice cream and then dinner at IALW all in the same day. Enjoy and report back on all your dining outings from the trip.


          4 Replies
          1. re: BRL

            Yes, that is also a very good choice for lunch. I concur in that rec as well.

            1. re: BRL

              I'd second Thorton River Grille... we've been there a couple times.. excellent chow

              1. re: JRCann

                The Griffin Tavern in Flint Hill is nice (great view from the front porch), Ray's in Sperryville is affordable with lots of hippy character and decent eats.

                1. re: darlin_clementine

                  9:00PM on Saturday night? I'd confirm that their full menu will still be available so late. At $178 prix fixe for four courses plus amuse (+ wine, tax & tip) this is not a dinner where you want to be told that they are out of a number of dishes. http://www.theinnatlittlewashington.c...

            2. The original comment has been removed