I am not always a contrarian. I do like puppies, ice cream, and sunshine. But sometimes I certainly zig, while others zag. Holidays often prove a good example of that: instead of staying up till 6am on New Years Eve, and spending New Year’s Day in a daze watching old movies, we went to bed at a reasonable time, got up at a reasonable time, and went hiking in the Shenandoah National Park.
The location of our first lunch of 2012: Hawksbill Summit:
Most importantly, zigging on New Year’s Day provided us with an opportunity to snag and leisurely enjoy a not-so-easy dinner reservation at the Inn at Little Washington (I must admit the reservation thought came first, and the hiking plans followed :-)). Besides, we are not “real” hikers; we are the kind that bring along an IKEA lunch bag, an umbrella, and a Blackberry for taking pictures.
The town of Washington, VA turned out to be an enclave of comfort and pampering, – something one can get used to very, very quickly. All the individuals we encountered were committed to lavishing attention and making our stay just a little bit nicer: from chef Patrick O’Connell (whom we met during the kitchen tour at the Inn), to wine director Master Sommelier Jennifer Knowles (who was determined to find that perfectly aged bottle of Chambolle-Musigny to capture the mood of the evening), to Kevin & Jay, the gracious hosts of Gay Street Inn where we spent the night (who offered such nice touches as port & chocolates by the fireplace in the library during our late night game of food trivia).
Our dinner at the Inn at Little Washington was well overdue, as I believe many foodies would place it in the top three restaurants in the greater DC area (alongside Komi and Restaurant Eve which we visited last year). I do not like ranking restaurants, as dining is a subjective, in-the-moment experience, but I will venture that, based on the overall pampering and individual attention of the fabulous staff criterion, I would personally rank them number 1, and based on depth of flavors, textural interplay, and general food excitement-worthiness – number 2. Oh, and they have a killer cellar, full of Burgundies and other wonderful things 🙂
The standouts for me were: the phenomenal flavor of one of the amuse-bouches (Bloody Mary gelee), the texture and elegance of my entree of Bitter Chocolate-Dusted Border Springs Lamb Loin with Salsify Puree on Autumn Ratatouille (served rare as requested), the surprising Tortelli of Spinach with Bambino Eggplant Puree and Chanterelle Mushrooms, and the addictive caraway seed/sea salt/walnut bread (and my lovely Burgundy, of course!):
Jeff’s Beet Fantasia takes the cake as the most photogenic dish of the evening:
All in all, we could not have wished for a better start of 2012, – ours was full of natural and man-made beauty. Happy New Year!