The first thing you should know about Inn at Little Washington is that it is located in a tiny town Virginia called Washington…hence the mystery behind the restaurant’s name.
The next thing important piece of information about the Inn is that there are several bed and breakfasts within walking distance from the Inn, including one particularly quaint one called the Gay Street Inn, which is ideal because no one wants to drive after a three-hour, wine-filled, six course meal.
And the most important piece of wisdom being imparted to you in this article? The Inn at Little Washington is a marvelous, exciting culinary adventure so get ready to eat, eat, and then eat some more before you stumble home to your cozy B&B.
The décor at the Inn is excessively ornate and the tables are a little too close together, but all of this is soon forgotten when you get your first amuse bouche from the famed Chef, Patrick O’Connell. Picture four little spoons with different savory treats to share with your dining partner. Of these, the small, perfectly round ball of luxurious, creamy risotto surrounded by a crispy, breadcrumb shell, is the shining star. Eaten in one bite, it leaves your taste buds begging for more…which is probably what the Chef intended.
The next course comes in a shot glass, complete with a small handle, of the most perfect split pea soup. Rich and satisfying, the delicate, sweet flavor of peas is the real highlight, enhanced by cream and herbs. The soup is served with a miniature gougeres, a pastry the size of your thumbprint, baked with mild, slightly sweet Gruyere cheese. Despite the small size the pastry is so packed with flavor it explodes in your mouth, and the texture is so light it melts when it hits your tongue.
Following the two complimentary mini courses from the Chef is your three-course main meal, selected from your personalized menu. Each of the three courses has several choices, including a couple of vegetarian options. For the first course, try the asparagus salad. Visually, the dish is a piece of art, with thick asparagus, sweet beets, a spicy horseradish cream, a tangy citrus salsa, and an earthy asparagus vinaigrette. The ingredients play off one another, resulting in a lovely fresh and seasonal salad.
One of the most popular items offered in the second course section of the menu is Spinach and Cheese Ravioli with the Molten Golden Center. This is no ordinary plate of ravioli. The dish comes with just one, large plump ravioli piece topped with nutty, fresh parmesan cheese. As you first cut into it, the gooey melted cheese with flecks of spinach comes oozing out. But after a few bites you reach the center, where lies a fully intact egg yolk. As you cut into it the yolk mixes in with the cheesy creamy ravioli filling, giving the dish an unprecedented level of richness. If you are looking for something ultra-decadent and an example of extraordinary culinary technique this is the dish for you, but those looking for something lighter, you may be disappointed.
The main course section offers a less successful pasta dish, Artichoke Filled Cappellini. While the cappellini is handmade and beautifully constructed, the filling is ultimately overly seasoned with salt, a problem that rears its ugly head in other selections as well.
The menu at the Inn has some extreme highs and lows, but what will not disappoint is the dessert. These are sweet treats so divine one wonders whether it is possible to just come for dessert. The ultimate: The Seven Deadly Sins, a plate with a sampling of seven bits of heaven. Even selecting the Seven Deadly Sins dessert is challenging because of the other tempting options. There is the Painter’s Palate of Sorbets, which is half a dozen tiny cups of fruity, refreshing sorbet. There is also the Chocolate Ménage a Toi, a plate with a chocolate bomb, a chocolate soufflé, and chocolate ice cream. Others will be tempted by the Cheese Plate as you get to pick your own cheeses from a cart filled with dozens of cheese choices from all over the world. But ultimately, the Seven Deadly Sins must win. Chocolate lava cake topped with a shiny chocolate ganache; the sweetest, smoothest panna cotta bursting with the flavor of vanilla bean; a petite rhubarb crisp, consisting of a crunchy topping covering sweet cooked rhubarbs; a chocolate and ice cream cake shaped like a wheel, a chocolate bomb filled with chocolate mousse, and finally a tiny scoop of homemade butter pecan ice cream. The desserts, like the rest of the menu, use fresh, local ingredients, which bring an extraordinary level of flavor to all of the dishes.
This six course menu will set you back $148 per person, without alcohol, tax, and tip. But coming to the Inn is more than a dinner; it can be a weekend away. Stay at the Gay Street Inn, enjoy a home cooked breakfast and let your Innkeepers send you wine tasting in Virgina Wine County and hiking in Shenandoah National Park during the day. You will come back from your weekend in Little Washington rested…and full.
The Inn at Little Washington, Middle and Main Street Washington VA 22747, 540-675-3800