The Inn is one of the most highly praised restaurants in the country, and certainly one of the best in the area. A one hour drive west from the beltway into rural Virgina finds this gem nestled amongst quaint B&B's and wineries. Reservations are highly sought and can be hard to get on the weekends, especially holiday weekends, so we were ridiculously lucky to be able to get a table on short notice during labor day weekend.
The room rates at The Inn are quite steep though, starting at $425 a night and increasing rapidly by room category. That is not even including the additional $245 for Saturdays, $145 for Fridays, and $75 for Sundays plus seasonal increases. In short - yikes!
We decided to save our money for what really counted (dinner and wine) and stay next door at the Middleton Inn.
For the price of a basic room at The Inn at Little Washington, we got a whole two-story cottage complete with jacuzzi tub and fireplace. It was just gorgeous! And the owners offered wine and cheese in the afternoon and port after dinner. While we were enjoying our wine and cheese, we met a couple who were celebrating their 50th anniversary. They had come down all the way from Michigan just to eat at The Inn, and had made their reservations a year in advance. They had eaten there the night before and tried to prepare us for what we were about to experience.
What we were about to experience was dining perfection, from the food to the quirky humor of the menu to the service The Inn knows exactly what it is doing. We only experienced one minor hiccup that night - we had asked in advance if we could bring in our own Champagne and they had said - of course! We had a bottle of Dom Perignon that was given to Jasper by his superiors as a gift for a job well done and brought that in. The sommelier chilled and opened it for us, but he also chastised us for bringing in something that they had on the menu. The policy makes sense, of course, but it should have been mentioned when we first asked if we could bring a bottle in. We were a little embarrassed but moved on quickly from that and ordered a bottle of wine by way of an apology, and the rest of the evening was flawless.
We were greeted by a menu that has a personalized greeting printed at the top, a list of local vendors, and a list of produce grown in The Inn's own garden. We were tempted by the ten course "Gastronaut's Menu", but found that the most exciting dishes were only on the three course menu so we opted for that.
I began with a carpaccio of lamb with Caesar salad ice cream that was just fantastic and incredibly innovative. Jasper had the "tin of sin" - a tin of crab salad topped with caviar - which was absolutely divine!
For my second course, I had the macaroni and cheese with Virginia country ham and black truffle. Absolutely decadent and rich - we both agreed that it was better than Jasper's dish, which is saying something. Because Jasper's dish was seared foie gras with frisee, house made bacon, lamb confit, poached egg, and truffle.
For my main, I had the veal sweetbreads and Virginia country ham on pappardelle with a grilled local plum sauce - perfection. Jasper had the pepper crusted tuna "pretending to be filet mignon" with foie gras and burgundy butter sauce, and you can probably guess how amazing that was.
Dessert was such a hard decision! Eventually I settled on a triple cream cheesecake with roasted local figs and champagne-berry sorbet. I was sad that it was so little because it was so divine. Jasper ordered the chocolate menage a trois - black forest mousse bombe, chocolate creme brulee, and bittersweet chocolate souffle.
This was one of the best dining experiences we have ever had and we are dying to go back. Especially because there are so many more dishes that we want to try: a "marriage" of hot and cold foie gras with sauternes jelly; roasted beets from the garden with beet mousse; day boat scallops with gnocchi, tomato, lemon, capers, and brown butter; duck breast with sweet corn pudding and peaches; veal loin with bone marrow custard and fennel; a "painter's palette" of sorbets for dessert; and the "seven deadly sins" dessert sampler.
This is a trip we will definitely be repeating!
I recently visited Jaleo (Crystal City), which is a short and beautiful walk from the metro, for restaurant week.
Bread was served with high quality olive oil with rosemary and garlic - very good. I ordered spinach with pinenuts, raisins, and apples and pan con tomate (rustic bread topped with crushed fresh tomatoes and manchego cheese) - both were very good. The fried, bacon wrapped dates are my favorite thing ever (though they are better at the downtown location). On the menu it says "como hace todo el mundo" (that you will want to eat every day) and they are not lying! They are the perfect combo of salty and sweet. The calamari was decent but not outstanding.
I absolutely love Greek food, but I have been bad about exploring the local offerings (mostly because the husband is not overly enthusiastic). I kept hearing fantastic things about Vienna staple Plaka Grill, so I decided to try it out on my own. I was not disappointed! Plaka is in a tiny strip center location off of 123. One whole wall is painted with a mural that took me straight back to San Torini, Greece. The food was equally nostalgic for me.
Plaka is famous for their signature Gyro sandwich - spit grilled pork sliced and served in pita bread with tomatoes, onions, fries, and tzatziki (a yogurt and cucumber sauce). They also serve the more familiar "Chicago Gyro" - pressed lamb and beef that is grilled and sliced. I have tried both, and they are fantastic. Some may say that it is sacrilege, but I usually prefer the Chicago style. I like that the meat has a more uniform texture with just a bit of crunch on the outer edges. I have also tried the Tyropites - phyllo dough triangles stuffed with feta and herbs. They are amazing - creamy and tangy on the inside, crispy and buttery on the outside. I would love to try their spinach filled cousins - the Spanakopites. Plaka also serves one of my favorite Greek desserts, which is not Baklava (gasp! i know), but Galaktoboureko - phyllo dough filled with custard and soaked in an orange scented honey syrup.
I have also tried their Moussaka dinner plates (one of my favorite dishes, if you couldn't tell from my post. It was very good - tender eggplant, rich tomato and meat ragu with lots of cinnamon flavor, creamy bechamel on top. It comes with a Greek salad, and some lovely roasted potatoes. It also comes with pita bread, which is nice except that there is really nothing to dip it in or eat it with. I had to order some tzatziki on the side.
**EDIT - How could I forget to mention the fries?! They are so good - hot and fresh and coated in salt, garlic powder (?), and herbs. They definitely do not need ketchup.**