Saturday, May 30, 2015

Dinner at The Inn At Little Washington

For quite a few years now, I've stopped on the way home from Balticon at one of my favorite inns anywhere, The Inn At Little Washington.  Chef/proprietor Patrick O'Connell's country creation is a wonderful place to get away from it all, enjoy great food, and relax.  As I wrote in a recent entry, I stopped again this year and owe you a review of the dinner in the kitchen table.

The Inn now offers only tasting menus.  The night we were there, it had three.  One featured classic dishes from its past.

Click an image to see a larger version.

We opted for that one, but with the addition of the foie gras dish from the seasonal menu.

The meal begins with a snack that's occupied this starting position for as long as I've been going there: truffled popcorn.

The truffles were early finds from Australia.  An accompanying tradition was the small set of parmesan crackers, which were exactly as they should be:  flavorful, salty, and fun.

A bit of pork belly on a spoon, a potato chip--a dream of a potato chip--stuffed with ham and cheese, and a radish fresh from their garden served as the amuse bouche.

At that point, the menu officially began!  I have tasted the chilled asparagus soup and delicate cheese puff before, but I was excited to get to try them again.  Both were as absolutely delicious as I remembered.

The tin of sin featured American Osetra caviar sitting atop some Peekytoe crab.  Spread a little on the perfect brioche slices, and you have a heavenly combination.

Our addition appeared next.  The hot foie was perfectly seared and melded beautifully with the gastrique.  The cold foie was differently wonderful, and the cherries blended well with it.

The baby lamb carpaccio proved to be perfectly seared and flavorful, though I think we would have done better with a single small scoop of the Caesar salad ice cream.  (Yes, regardless of how it sounds, it tasted great.)

The Inn had just that day received its first shipment of soft-shell crabs, and Executive Chef Evan Pope, who was running the kitchen that night, surprised us with a special dish featuring them.  The peanuts on top were a surprising addition I quite enjoyed.

I'm not a fan of sea bass.  I have nothing against it, but I've felt for some time that too many restaurants were overusing it.  This perfectly prepared dish changed my mind.  The fish could not have been better, and the shrimp and pork dumpling was a delight.

The squab breast with hackleberries took no prisoners with a very strong flavor and a nice combination of meat and fruit.  If you like squab, as I do, you will love this dish.  (If you don't care for squab, though, this is definitely not the plate for you.)

The final savory course, the prosciutto-wrapped veal with country ham and fontina ravioli, was another set of strong flavors that worked very well for me.

When faced with a cheese cart as strong as The Inn's,

you have only one choice:  add a cheese course.  So I did.  I failed to photograph it before I was partway through it, but this picture should serve to indicate the delicious variety of cheeses I sampled.

Dessert was up next, but at The Inn, nothing succeeds like excess, so first you get a pre-dessert, in this case a wonderful little creamsicle.

I'm not a creamsicle fan in general, but I would eat one of these every day if I had the chance.  (I am very thankful I do not.)

For dessert, I chose the only option I could not resist:  the Seven Deadly Sins, a selection of miniature versions of many of their desserts.

I'll leave to your imagination (or your Goggle research) exactly what each of these is, but every single one was delicious.

I have strongly recommended a meal at The Inn At Little Washington since the first time I ate there, and I do so again now.  The food is wonderful, the setting beautiful, and the only drawbacks are cost--nothing this good is cheap--and your need to exercise afterward.

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