Washington, D.C. Restaurants

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Inn at Little Washington

first course: lamb carpaccio

Fodorite Reviews

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Inn at Little Washington Review

A 90-minute drive from the District takes you past hills and farms to this English-style country manor, where the service matches the setting. A four-course dinner, which can easily top $200 with wine pairings, might begin with a "trinity" of beets presented three ways or raw lamb in a Caesar salad "ice cream" straight out of the high-wire kitchens of Las Vegas or Manhattan. Poached trout might come next, then roasted lobster or a carefully curated vegetarian entree. Desserts are fanciful, and the cheese plate is delivered on a life-size, mooing faux cow. A "gastronaut" menu, including wine pairings, takes the foodie fun to more acrobatic heights, beginning with an amuse bouche such as truffle-dusted popcorn.

    Restaurant Details

  • Reservations essential
  • No Lunch. Closed Tues. Jan.–Apr., and June–Sept.
Updated: 05-23-2014

Fodorite Reviews

Average Rating:  
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    Overall...cart before horse

    After talking last night, the subject of our dining experience at the Inn came up (early July 07). It was our 29th anniversary, wife's birthday; 30 years in the Air Force/Government service and a son's birthday were all wrapped up in a getaway weekend in Little Washington. The reputation for the diversity of food and quality (and price) provided anticipation. We've lived in Europe for many years and thought that we'd be dealt a quality of dining and service that we came to expect. UNFORTUNATELY, the "B" team was working the floor and the “been there and done it before” quality and nonchalant attitude of the service that was explained to me by one of the wait staff that there are regulars and then there are gusts as yourself, coupled with the food prep made for a very forgettable evening. I think that resting on one's laurels and letting the reputation precede the "goods" is dangerous. We won't be going back and caution others who are expecting a once in a lifetime experience in the DC region to search out other opportunities and places to spend your hard earned cash.

    by slide, 12/3/07
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    Inn at Little Washington Review

    The food was superb, the suggested wine was fantastic, and the service was great (for me this means professional/friendly vs. stiff and indifferent). Dining here is an "event"; ours lasted 3 hours so fortunately we were staying at a nearby B&B.

    by VA_Girl, 9/13/10
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    Inn at Little Washington Review

    My spouse and I ate dinner at this restaurant over the Memorial Day weekend in late May 2011. We had a good meal here, but it wasn't fantastic and certainly didn't “wow” us. (For background, meals that have “wowed” us in the past have been The French Laundry, Per Se, Le Bernardin, wd-50, and Momofuku Ko.) We were seated in the main dining room, which was attractive except for the red, fringed, bordello-like lights hanging above each table. We could see into a sunroom-type dining space, and we also observed a bar area near the restrooms (however, when we peeked into the bar area, we were made to feel like we were intruding, so I'm not sure whether it was for all dinner guests or just for the hotel guests). To our dismay and surprise, some diners were attired in shorts, sneakers, and polo shirts! Although I think requiring a jacket and tie is a bit much, the dress code is far too relaxed as it currently stands. We did not order the gastronaut’s menu, instead choosing the four-course prix-fixe menu. From what I saw online prior to my visit, it seemed to me that both menus were the same price - $165 on a Sunday evening, but when we were handed our menus, the prix-fixe was $185 and the gastronaut's menu was $225 (perhaps they raised the prices on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend?). Our biggest regret is that we didn't splurge on the more extensive eight-course menu - perhaps there would have been more opportunity for the restaurant to impress us. We received an amuse-bouche of four serving spoons (Asian-looking), each with a different concoction atop. These looked interesting, however, we had to "fight" over the ones that we wanted - both my spouse and I wanted the spoon topped with pork belly, and we each wanted the one topped with a miniature deviled egg. (Clearly, we weren't that interested in the other two, because I can't recall what they were.) It's difficult to discuss your food experience when the other person wants what you have! Our first courses were tasty: my spouse had oysters and I had the beet fantasia (probably the most impressive-looking dish of the evening). Our second courses were fine although not at all memorable; I can’t even recall what they were (the hallmark of a literally and figuratively forgettable course, in my opinion, but I think my spouse had foie gras and I had a scallop). The blunder of the evening came when our entrees were served; my spouse's lamb loin was placed in front of me, and my veal loin was placed in front of him. We began eating, and I wondered what was in the small bowl on my plate containing a light-colored substance flecked with herbs. Sampling it, I tasted mint and jelly, which are puzzling accompaniments for veal, but not for lamb! We were absolutely astounded that the wrong plates were delivered - made worse by the fact that nothing was announced as it was delivered - we’ve grown accustomed to the wait person saying, "Here is the veal for the lady and the lamb for the gentleman", usually accompanied by an extensive description of the preparations and ingredients composing the dish. (To be fair, we usually order a blind tasting menu, so it is absolutely necessary to explain what is being served, and describing the dishes is surely a bit easier when both parties are enjoying the same menu.) To make up for such a huge error, they offered us a cheese course after we had finished our desserts. (For dessert, my spouse chose an after-dinner drink and I chose the “seven deadly sins”, so the cheese was a good addition. We haven’t ever been offered a cordial or brandy in place of dessert, so that was something my spouse [not a real dessert-lover] appreciated about this restaurant.) The young gentleman who served our cheeses had real knowledge of what he was serving, as well as an entertaining personality, and Faira the cow is an amusing diversion. To sum up our experience, if you find yourself in Washington, Virginia, this is certainly a good restaurant choice, but I wouldn't go at all out of my way to eat there (and trust me, no matter where you are, it is out of the way for this sleepy little location!).

    by fluffnfold, 8/10/11

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