We celebrated our 10th anniversary this past Friday with a quick get-away to the Virginia country side. We spent less than 24h away from home, but time passes at a different speed without children – it felt like we had a whole weekend to ourselves!
Our initial plan was only(!) dinner at The Inn at Little Washington, the beloved restaurant in the D.C. area that was recently awarded two stars by the Michelin Guide. The Inn has also received numerous awards and distinctions throughout its almost 40 years of operation.
Given that we were planning to enjoy their extensive tasting menu, we decided to spend the night in the area and avoid the 1:20h drive back afterwards. We stayed at the beautiful Glen Gordon Manor, less than 10 miles away from The Inn at Little Washington, which we absolutely loved, but I will tell you about that another time.
Back to the Inn: your first impression starts at the valet parking, the first taste of what the service is like. Our last name was announced by the valet in almost perfect form, which most people won’t dare to try (GAR-BA-LI-AUS-KAS!). The rest of the service was as impeccable, friendly and gracious, from beginning to the very end: something I took for granted in São Paulo, but find it less common in North America.
The decor has that Old World elegance with the American authenticity, it is almost eccentric, yet welcoming and charming. You can tell that the same perfectionism and passion that chef Patrick O’Connell dedicated to the menu is dedicated to every single detail at The Inn, from the decor to the service, which really makes for a unique experience.
Pictured above is the carpaccio of baby lamb loin with Caesar salad ice cream!
To be honest with you, I really did not want to make our fancy 10th wedding anniversary evening an occasion where I interrupt every bite Romas attempts to take with a picture (which happens quite often at home). So I did not bring my camera nor did I take pictures of the many incredible dishes that were served that night. I did sneak a few, which gives you an idea. Romas was just as impressed by the sauce pairings and broths as he was with the wine pairing suggested by our server: he is still talking about the braised Japanese wagyu beef and the ribeye sashimi in broth.
From the several different courses and amuse-bouche that came our way, the ones engraved in my memory are the roasted milk-fed loin of pork with spring salad – and milk-fed apparently means the most delicate and moist pork meat possible – and the caramelized Catalan custard foie gras. It makes one want to lick the bowl, or is it just me? I didn’t, given my surroundings. Wait, there was also this shot of the creamiest split pea soup with the most perfect gruyère and chive gougère served on a little pedestal, which I’d love to remake at home (although perhaps without pedestals).
A happy guy with his Seven Deadly Sins assortment of desserts.
Romas’ dessert would have been perfect for two on a regular night, but we could not resist the chocolate mousse hazelnut sandwich, and I’m glad we didn’t.
In the end, you get to take home your beautiful personalized menus and this super cute little paper house filled with tiny cookies and chocolates, which Romas refuses to give to the kids – I get it, they are happy with ring pops… AND they can keep the empty house.
They also gave us a tour of the kitchen afterwards! It is really impressive with its high ceilings, large windows and the massive range with stainless-steel and copper hood. But what is really impressive is the hard work and cleaning that happens every day: it is a 24h kitchen with 3 shifts, including an employee dedicated exclusively for the overnight deep cleaning shift.
The tour of the kitchen gives you a glimpse of the history of the place: The Inn started almost 40 years ago by self-taught chef Patrick O’Connell and his former partner Reinhardt Lynch in a converted old garage, after a pilgrimage through European restaurants and a catering business enterprise in the Blue Ridge mountains area.
Their menu explains that their partnership with local farmers started out of necessity when nothing but milk was delivered there, long before the farm to table movement, but their philosophy of using only the best ingredients and cultivating relationships with local farmers continues to this day.
We thought our evening was well worth the splurge for the unique experience on a very special occasion. I’d love to go back on a summer day for an early dinner and sit by the garden… visit their shops across the street, their small farm in the back… Hmmm. But let me try my gougères at home for now. To my delight, there are a few recipes posted in their website, check it out! Follow The Inn on Facebook or join their mailing list and you will get new recipes.