Last year we made our first trip to The Inn at Little Washington over Labor Day weekend and we had a wonderful time. This year we were debating whether to spend the holiday weekend at the beach, or return to the Inn. Eventually our taste buds won out and we decided to head to Washington, VA.
Unlike the year before, we decided to stay at the Inn itself (instead of one of the less expensive B&B's nearby) and our room was absolutely gorgeous! We stayed in the Norman House Garden Room with a living room, wet bar, huge bathroom, and private garden - just wonderful! We also upped the ante this year by having 2 dinners at the restaurant - one of which was at the chef's table in the kitchen!
After arriving at the Inn, being given cocktails and a tour, and shown to our room to get ready - we headed back to the main building for our first night and our dinner at the chef's table. We sat in the lounge and had a few more cocktails until they were ready for us.
Then a staff member told us a story about Robert Mondavi naming Chef O'Connell the "Pope of American Cuisine" and escorted us to the kitchen doors. He threw them open with a flourish and inside was a man dressed as a Priest and swinging an incense burner. The whole staff was lined up to greet us and they were playing Gregorian music. They sure do know how to make an impression! After that, we were seated and everyone went to work. We got a front row seat to the theatrics of a restaurant kitchen.
We opted for the "Gastronaut's" tasting menu so that we could get the full experience of the chef's table, knowing that on our second night we could just order our favorites. We were presented with truffle dusted popcorn to start (fitting for a dinner theater!) - so simple, and so addictive.
Next up was the amuse bouche - a shot of chilled tomato soup and a Gruyere gougere. The tomatoes came from their own vegetable garden and the flavor really came through strongly. It was the best tomato soup I have ever had - I must search through my cookbook for the recipe!
Next was the signature "Tin of Sin" - Ossetra Caviar with a cucumber and Peekytoe crab rillette. I don't even know what to say about that - I could eat buckets of it.
A quartet of Rappahannock oysters - papaya granita, cucumber sorbet, cocktail sauce sorbet, and wasabi sorbet if I remember correctly - all excellent. Even better - the (stellar, female - which is rare) Sommalier paired it with a Dassai Nigori Sake!
Chicken Fried Frog Legs with Garlic-Parsley Purée and Gremolata- tasty little fried nuggets.
Miniature Filet of Cod Sauté with Lemon Vodka Sauce and Lilliputian Pork Dumplings - loved the tiny mushrooms and the pork ravioli; the fish was a little bland on its own, but with the lemon sauce was very good.
Pappardelle Pasta with a Medley of Virginia Mushrooms, Peaches and Ribbons of Country Ham - savory, salty, good texture.
Pan Seared Duck Breast with Roasted Cipollini Onions, Baby Bok Choy and Duck Jus Perfumed with Thyme - excellent, perfectly cooked.
A Miniature Blueberry Crisp with Limoncello Pudding Cake and Summer Berry Rapture Frozen Yogurt - you can see Jasper about to pounce on this in the background. Excellent - very refreshing and summery.
And that was the end of our evening in the kitchen! It was a truly wonderful experience.
For our second dinner (in the regular dining room) we ordered a la carte. I had the Carpaccio of Herb Crusted Baby Lamb with Caesar Salad Ice Cream that I remembered from our last trip. So good. Jasper ordered the Tin of Sin.
A gift from the chef - mini baked potatoes and bloody mary gelee.
Another favorite from our last trip - Aged Gouda Macaroni and Cheese with Virginia Country Ham (we both ordered this).
My entree - Curry Dusted Veal Sweetbreads with Homemade Applesauce, Virginia Country Ham, and Pappardelle Pasta.
Jasper's entree - Seared Raw Tuna, Crusted with Mustard Seeds, Layered with Foie Gras and Enlivened with Preserved Lemon Puree and a Confetti of Garden Vegetables.
Dessert - Painter's Palette of Sorbets. If I remember correctly, from left - chocolate, peach, spiced plum, raspberry, blackberry, blueberry.
Dessert - apple tart.
Breakfast at the Inn includes a complementary cold breakfast and pay to order hot foods. The cold part of the breakfast starts off with a selection of juices - watermelon mint, cucumber honeydew, vanilla orange, and rosemary grapefruit. It also includes house made Greek style yogurt, fresh berries, house made granola, pastries, and a selection of jams/toppings (honey, lemon curd, berry jam, vanilla gooseberry jelly, etc...).
My hot breakfast Day 1 - Eggs Benedict with Lemon Hollandaise and Virginia Country Ham.
Jasper's breakfast entree Day 1 - Smoked Salmon Plate.
My hot breakfast Day 2 - A Collection of Breakfast Favorites in Miniature (egg casserole, hash with quail egg, oatmeal souffle topped with maple syrup).
Jasper's hot breakfast Day 2 - french toast with berry compote (sorry for the terrible focus).
The Inn is definitely a lovely place to vacation and while it is basically in the middle of nowhere, there are wineries and scenic drives nearby. I can't wait until we can go back again!