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Inn at Little Washington

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Has anyone been recently? The last thread seems to be from 2010. I'd like to have dinner w/ my husband but want to make sure the price is justified by the service and food. On rare occasion, I've been to fine dining restaurants but DH hasn't and I don't want a bad experience to turn him off fine dining. Specifically, I'd like to know: is the dining room crowded? That's been brought up and I don't want to feel cramped. How's the service? Warm & friendly is a plus, "snooty"... not so much. Finally... how's the food?? I'm not interested in experimental- I just want a delicious, quality meal. Thanks!!

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  1. We went for my husband's birthday in May 2011. It was wonderful as always. We always stay the night there as well. Service is not snooty at all IMO and have never had an issue with an overly crowded dining room. The food is fabulous...not sure what you mean by "experimental".

    Here's a brief run down of our meal from another site I posted to:
    It was soon time for dinner. We arrived early so that we could review the 77 page wine list and my husband loved discussing the wine with the sommelier. My husband had his requisite gin and tonic and I had a glass of Philippe Gonet, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Champagne, Brut (N.V.) Rosé.

    We were seated and presented with our menus welcoming us and personalize with a birthday greeting to my husband. After much discussion we ordered two bottles of wine for the evening: Francois Lump, Petite Marole, Givry 1er Cru (2006) and Château Pichon Longueville-Comtesse de Lalande (2006).

    While deciding on dinner and enjoying the wine we were brought a shot of asparagus soup with a Gruyere puff and offerings of truffle risotto, the world’s smallest baked potato, tomato polenta with parmesan and pork belly. Each of these were one bite miniatures and perfectly executed.

    For our first course, I had a quartet of Virginia Oyster Slurpees. Four Virginia oysters served on the half shell with assorted sorbets: lemon, apple, cocktail and wasabi. My husband had the Carpaccio of Herb Crusted Baby Lamb with Caesar salad ice cream.

    For the second course I had the Lasagna of Local Morels, Country Ham and Asparagus and my husband had the Macaroni and Cheese with Country Ham and Shaved Black Truffle.

    For our main courses we ended up having the same dish Beef Two Ways: a pecan crusted barbequed short rib paired with a minature Filet Mignon wrapped in Swiss chard and served with miniature scalloped potatoes.

    I cannot go the Inn without having cheese for dessert. I had the fromager choose five selections and cheese from Utah to Israel and everywhere in between were served with pecans, honey, crackers and bread. My husband had the granny smith apple tart (great with the cheese) with buttermilk ice cream. We were given the miniature “Inn at Little Washington” box filled with candies, shortbread and dried fruit.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Janet from Richmond

      Wow! Thank you for such a thoughtful reply. That settles it. We're definitely going.

    2. The people are lovely, it's a gorgeous space, it's charming and quiet, and the food is perfection. My only quibble - and I went last summer - was that though the food was flawless, it wasn't necessarily the most innovative combinations of flavors. But my favorite restaurants are Rasika, Thai X-ing, etc., so that's probably way. Perhaps we're just getting spoiled by the improving dining options in DC. That being said, I can't imagine not loving the food, even if it doesn't blow your mind with its crazy flavors.

      1. Seconded. Had my 20th anniversary dinner there last June. Third time we had been there in 10 years. Absolutely wonderful food, as always. Definitely warm and friendly, no pretension or attitude. Even had a visit from Chef O'Connell. Don't hesitate at all.

        1. If you have an opportunity-get the latest issue of "Style Magazine." There was a small article regarding the Inn at Little Washington. It mentioned that the two partners had split up personally and professionally. Perhaps that is one of the reasons that several years ago the restaurant wasn't up to its usual standards.

          I can't recommend it as I haven't been there since 1996, but at that time it was fantastic. FoiGras

          3 Replies
          1. re: FoiGras

            My first husband was an original employee of The Inn, so I went there for the first time in 1985 before it had overnight accommodations. I have dined there a half dozen or so times and have never been disappointed.

            I believe Patrick & Reinhardt's breakup was fairly amicable. Reinhardt was the front of the house and decor master...I don't think it's missed a step.

            One thing I will say, is Patrick is 66 so I don't know how much longer he will be there. My hope is he is still there in 2014 when I turn 50.

            1. re: Janet from Richmond

              Thank you, Janet, for the info. I feel certain that the Inn is still one of the best in the area. My hubby and I shared a very romantic evening and dined on the most exquisite food with impeccable service.

              Okay, dear one--66 isn't old in this day and age. You are still a "youngster"--as I consider myself--in the 50 age group. I have friends who are in their late 70's and going strong in their businesses. IN fact, they have pumped up and are doing remarkably well.

              Thank you so much for your input. FoiGras

              1. re: FoiGras

                I know 66 isn't old :-) but after 30+ years and making more money than he could have ever dreamed of and having the honor of serving so many people, including various Presidents and Queen Elizabeth II, I wouldn't be surprised if he decided to travel the world instead.

          2. We haven't been for a few years, but we found some of the tables very close together, especially in the room with all the windows that overlooks the garden patio. The chairs were rattan -- uncomfortable and wobbly. I'm sure had I asked for another chair, they would have provided one. It was embarrassing to see two huge greasy thumbprints on the wine list, the breadth of the wines available is astonishing.

            The service isn't snotty but you could call it pretentious. The waiter inquired "Are we still enjoying?" when he wanted to know if he could clear our plates. That has become a catch phrase at our house.

            The food is very good, although the expectation level is so high, given the hype, the prices, and the time it takes to get there, that it must be difficult for them to meet those expectations.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Transplanted Texan

              I did suspect that that was my biggest issue with it. I expected my head to explode, and it didn't - even though it was exception. We go in thinking it will change our lives!

            2. Sophie was our server the lone time we ate at IALW. Put my husband and me in the group that thinks she is a very sour, negative contributor to the dining experience. In fact, she had such a strong impact on our meal that my husband and I regretted our decision to eat there in spite of excellent food. I've had equally amazing tasting meals at Citronelle, Komi, and CityZen that pleased me more. Not only are those meals approximately $100 less for two, but they aren't accompanied by a dose of nastiness.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Indy 67

                It is a great restaurant, but it is hard to live up to the hype. If you eat there and spend a night at the inn you will spend a ton of money. I'm not sure any dining experience is worth it. I also felt a little cramped in the room facing the garden. Still, I might return for a very special occasion. The setting and the food make you feel like you are in a special place.

                1. re: rappel75

                  We go (and always stay the night) every few years. I think staying the night makes the experience worthwhile and takes everything to a whole different level.

                  Also, the breakfast is the Inn's unsung hero. Absolutley fabulous. Last time we went was for my husband's birthday and I pulled out all the stops and got a suite with a fireplace. Perfection.

              2. Go, go go! My wife took me there for our anniversary last fall and it was wonderful in every respect. If can afford the extra cash, reserve the chefs table in the kitchen. It's pricey but worth it. I won't blow the surprises in case you do it, but I'm pretty sure you'll be blown away by what they do. It's more than just sitting at a table in the kitchen. And it's the quietest, most relaxed kitchen you can imagine. I've been in libraries that were more rowdy! Service wasn't snooty at all, and from talking to our server, I think they try to give you what you want......casual if you're casual, more refined if that suits you better. Get the tasting menu too.....The Gastronaut's Menu. Let them pick what's best for you. You won't be disappointed. Also, don't miss the "Tin of Sin".....there may be a supplemental fee but it's worth it!

                1 Reply
                1. re: Bart Hound

                  I was there a couple of years ago and It is very lovely and special. It is a true fine dining experience. The stand out for me was the cheese cart. I asked for the server to choose and I tasted epoisses for the first time. It was so excellent that we're planning a trip to Burgundy next year to have some where it is produced. I also remember the bread being outstanding and difficult to stop eating. We were cycling and this was one of the dinners. We got a tour of the kitchen which is absolutely beautiful. I don't know if they usually do this, but it would be worth asking for after the meal. We stayed at the Foster Harris House which is about 2 blocks away and lovely. They serve an amazing breakfast each morning.