The Inn at Little Washington is a 42 year old restaurant about 70 miles east of Washington DC. It is the only restaurant in the area to have been awarded 3 Michelin stars and the chef, Patrick O’Connell received the James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to American food. The town with a population around 200 and the oldest of the 28 cities in the U.S. with that name, got the nickname Little Washington due to its proximity to DC. The Inn/Restaurant had to overcome some resistance in the town but now most of the town seems to revolve around it. The main inn has 18 bedrooms and suites and now there are a number of buildings in town that it also has rooms in, with one under construction across the street that will be a casual restaurant.
We were in the newest dining room, that only opened a few weeks ago but it is designed to be able to open doors and have free flowing air – obviously inspired by the current pandemic. All the rooms are lavishly decorated and whimsical with mannequins occupying some of the tables set aside for spacing. The new ‘garden room’ was dominated by umbrellas and a large floral arrangement in the center. A lovely tile floor was reflected in the ceiling. Vocal music played throughout the evening. They offer 2 menus, one being vegetarian and optional wine pairings. The food is outstanding but we did have some service issues however the food is the strong point and worth the trip. Covid-19 has been hard on staffing and they had only recently re-opened for inside dining.
We started with a Negroni cocktail and then ordered our a bottle of wine to go with the regular menu rather than the pairings.
Amuse bouche started with a crispy potato roll filled with cream and onions. It was a nice mix of textures and tasty.
Bread service was a mini baguette coated in poppy seeds and 2 thin slices of pecan rye bread alongside honey butter. The honey was beside the mound of butter presented in a glass dome. The breads were fine.
A second amuse was a roasted garlic custard with sunchokes in an egg shell. The smooth custard was studded with fun chunks and really well flavored.
A “Star-Kissed Tuna and foie gras confit was awash in a black truffle vinaigrette. The big eye tuna was seasoned with juniper berries as was the Hudson Valley foie gras. The vinaigrette was thick and flavorful and meshed the two ingredients together perfectly. It was presented in a tin to look like a can of tuna. On the side were housemade saltines that were crisp and buttery.
Carpaccio of herb-crusted Elysian Fields baby lamb loin was plated with Caesar Salad ice cream. Some basil pesto was smeared on the plate next to the baby Romaine leaf filled with grated parmesan cheese. The lamb was in circles topped with a couple really crispy croutons and the ice cream balls. The ice cream tasted just like you had Caesar salad in your mouth. It was a plate of fun combinations full of flavor and textures – or as the server put it, ‘a sea of flavor.’ It was the best de-constructed Caesar salad I’ve ever had.
Grilled Black Kingfish with shallot confiture and red wine balsamic reduction was topped with 2 thin very crispy onion rings. The fish was amazing and the sauce incredible both set off nicely by the thin crisp of the onion. This was a delicious dish and I wanted to mop up every bit of that sauce. Full of flavor and wonderful textures, an outstanding plate.
For a main course you had a choice and we each chose one of them. A Duet of Rabbit was a Pecan-crusted loin and mushroom stuffed leg with morels, turnips and asparagus. The rabbit was amazingly juicy and complimented by an outstanding sauce. The leg meat was stuffed with mushrooms and the loin meat coated with a pecan crust. Both were lovely but the stuffed meat slightly better. Bits of perfectly cooked asparagus adorned the wonderful plate.
The other option was pan-seared Long Island duck breast with seared foie gras, sour cherries and caramelized endive. It was served nicely rare with the cherries as part of the rich sauce. The perfectly cooked foie gras was the right touch for the endive and meat. Another lick the plate dish.
The pre-dessert/palate cleanser was a coconut sorbet with passionfruit and ginger granité. It was nicely sweet with good flavors of coconut and little bits of fruit on top that added a pop. Good flavors and perfect transition to the sweet stuff.
Dessert was “Apparently a Pear”, or a cheese course could be had for a supplement. It was a faux pear, complete with shading from ripening on an almond cake backed by amaretto cream. Inside was white chocolate cheesecake with sauterne poached pears. It was wonderful.
Two candied grapefruit rinds were hidden by a thin sheet of dark chocolate and sea salt. They broke the chocolate at the table. It was fine.
A cute little box in the shape of the Inn was filled with treats for you to take home. They were a mixed bag but the box was really neat.