What: About an hour outside Washington, D.C. sits culinary mecca The Inn at Little Washington. Chef and owner Patrick O’Connell creates dishes there that are just as beautiful as they are rich and delicious. We’re talking about entrées such as the signature “Tin of Sin” with its decadent layers of peekytoe crab salad, cucumber rillette and American Osetra caviar. And as intense as the flavors are in each and every course, you’ll also find that they’re as fresh as can be. The Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star restaurant has been a strong supporter of the farm-to-table movement before it even had a name. O’Connell has his own “Field of Dreams” — his nickname for the garden.
Where: Tucked away in the quaint village of Washington, Virginia, The Inn at Little Washington is a must-hit for foodies. Connected to the eponymous 18-room inn, the Northern Virginia restaurant sits at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Though the town may be much smaller than its big sister on the Potomac, it’s touted as “the first Washington of them all” — probably because a young George Washington surveyed the town himself in 1749.
When: O’Connell opened The Inn at Little Washington in 1978, and the restaurant won its first Five-Star award in 1990. Since the menus are dictated by what’s in season, plan your visit around the flavors you crave. Fall is a particularly beautiful time of year to dine at the restaurant — as you drive down Lee Highway, you’re surrounded by leaves bursting with crimson and gold. And once you sit down for a meal, you’ll dive into brilliant fall ingredients such as white truffles.
Why: Robert Mondavi once called O’Connell the “Pope of American Cuisine.” As soon as that amuse-bouche hits your taste buds, you’ll understand why. If you’re really looking to make this a dinner to remember, book one of the two kitchen tables. Getting a behind-the-scenes look at the master chef whipping up dishes while sitting in one of the nation’s most beautiful kitchens is an experience that should not be missed. The Inn at Little Washington is the kind of restaurant you’ll want to save for a special occasion, so if you can’t get near the chef, request a table in the Terrace Room for a romantic view of the colorful garden and idyllic koi pond.
Photos Courtesy of Inn at Little Washington