Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Inn at Little Washington


mhberk
 Share

Recommended Posts

I've never been, but I remember when it was THE place to go. It was always written up as being one of the top restaurants in the country with rave reviews. Now all I read about is Nectar, Maestro, Restaurant Eve, Palena, Citronelle, etc.

Has The Inn really gone down hill that much? Has anyone been lately that could share their opinion?

(Sitting for lamb chops)

Lamb: Ple-e-e-se Li-i-i-sa I thought you lo-o-o-oved me, lo-o-o-oved me

Marge: Whats Wrong Lisa? Cant get enough lamb chops?

Lisa: I can't eat this, I can't eat a poor little lamb.

Homer: Lisa get a hold yourself, that is lamb, not A lamb.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I still think that the Inn at Little Washington remains a special treat. The food, service, decor and setting are a winning combination that'd be hard to beat. But, more and more, I think that there are new fine restaurants in their league right here in town. So, I don't think the the ILW has declined so much as others have risen to meet their level of excellence.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have been to The Inn five times since 1980. Two visits in the late '80's were superb and lived up to my expectations. My first and the last two were disappointments. It was also "demoted" by both Tom Sietsema (four stars to three) and Zagat (yes, Zagat!) from 29 points for food to 28 tying it with Maestro and Citronelle. The Inn, on Saturday night with a prix fixe hovering around $158 is more expensive than any other restaurant south of New York. With the wine list having a markup of 200 to 300% dinner for two with a "decent" bottle of wine on Saturday night approaches $600. If you want to sit at the chef's table in the kitchen, of which there are two, there is a $250 suppliment. For a party of four this raises the prix fixe to over $200.

All of this is for fewer courses than are served at Maestro or Citronelle on their largest tasting menus.

Currently, I believe that Maestro and Citronelle are our two best restaurants and each is on par with any in America. Laboratorio with Roberto in the kitchen fits in here also. Expectations are that CitiZen with the chef de cuisine from the French Laundry may rival these. There are further expectations for IndoChine (sp?) which opens next month downtown with two alumni from The Inn. Also, as Eve continues to evolve it aspires to this level also. I have never been to Nectar but have been to Palena and feel that it is a step or two below these although it is excellent in its own right. I should also note that neither Nectar, Palena, even Restaurant Eve are priced anywhere near The Inn or Citronelle or Maestro or Laboratorio. The last two's Grande prix fixe are $125 for what amounts to about 12 courses. Citronelle is more.

For me, right now, Maestro and Laboratorio are the two best restaurants in the D. C. area along with Citronelle which may have the most creative and unique presentations of all. If you go to Laboratorio ask for table #7 which is five feet from Roberto. At Maestro ask for a table in the front of the room near where Fabio assembles the dishes. Both of these will make a difference in your appreciation of the restaurants.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Joe,

Great analysis!!

I have been Nectar, Restaurant Eve, and Maestro (w/ a kitchen view table) and have had the tasting menu at the both Maestro (althought WAY too much food when you go on a birthday!) and Eve. All were excellent! I have yet to try Laboratorio or Citronelle, but with my wife's birthday coming up, I was trying to plan something special. And after watching Patrick O'Connell being featured on "Great Chefs in America" twice in the last month, I thought I'd give it a try. Watching him create his dishes with such care and knowledge as well as promoting the local ingredients made me question why I've never been there.

So, perhaps I'll put off the treck to The Inn for a little while longer and give some of the others a try.

(Sitting for lamb chops)

Lamb: Ple-e-e-se Li-i-i-sa I thought you lo-o-o-oved me, lo-o-o-oved me

Marge: Whats Wrong Lisa? Cant get enough lamb chops?

Lisa: I can't eat this, I can't eat a poor little lamb.

Homer: Lisa get a hold yourself, that is lamb, not A lamb.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would pick Laboratorio over Citronelle if I can get table #7 which must be specified. There is a second table that they sometimes use which sits directly in front of the room but I've not seen this on every visit. Roberto will also serve you "too much food." There's twelve courses and it runs about three and one half hours or so. His style is actually quite different from Maestro. I've used the analogy in the past that Maestro is very similar to Le Calandre outside of Padua and Roberto reminds me of a restaurant like the old Guido near Alba. I would actually suggest that his food is more "approachable" if you will while Maestro is more spectacular with extraordinary combinations. Still, Roberto has several truly Great dishes such as a foie gras brulee as well as an egg shell which he fills with scrambled egg, reggiano and shaved white truffles. Orgasmic. Both of them! I am sincere in comparing both Maestro and Laboratorio with the two restaurants in Italy. They are THAT good.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We went to the Inn in May to celebrate my mother's 60th birthday. It was our second visit in the past 5 years. Both visits were exceptional. On both occassions, we also spent the night at the Inn, which is an expensive treat. As far as the meals go, on both occasions we were very pleased. I wouldn't say that the menu was particularly innovative, but everything was well-prepared and tasty. We have also recently dined at Citronelle, which was also mentioned in this thread, and we had a great meal there as well. I wouldn't hesitate to go to either restaurant again, despite the high price tags. The two restaurants are quite different, and I find it hard to chose one over the other.

PS: There seems to be an overlap between the D.C. & DelMarVa forum and the Southeast forum. The Inn is far enough outside of D.C. that, personally, I would claim it for the Southeast. Likewise, Richmond restaurants are discussed in both fora and surely they should be in Southeast. It would be nice if the overlap was eliminated so that it would be easier to find all discussions of restaurants in those border regions. Perhaps D.C. could be renamed D.C, Deleware, Maryland, and the D.C. suburbs, or something like that. Just a random thought.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I could not agree with Joe more. There are many venues that are heads above the Inn at Little Washington. Maestro is a great example...stunning restaurant. My biggest beef with the Inn is all the tables they have crammed in that little space. For instance, 6 tables crammed under a banquette with 4 lamps over them. You are literally sitting on top of the table next to you. Obviously designed for 4 but the need for $$ dictates extra seats and less comfort. The service is pure...on that issue you cannot knock them. But, foodwise, for the money, not worth it. In my honest opinion.

Edited by sdelgato (log)

"I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully."

—George W. Bush in Saginaw, Mich., Sept. 29, 2000

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"and have had the tasting menu at the both Maestro (althought WAY too much food when you go on a birthday!) and Eve."

Just an explanation for my using the expression "too much food" at Laboratorio, too.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Roberto will also serve you "too much food."

I know this is written in English, but it makes no sense to me. "Too much food"? :blink:

:laugh:

We went to Maestro for a friend's birthday and all decided to get the 7-course tasting menu (which I thought would probably be 5 courses plus a cheese course and a dessert course). As it turned out, there was a pre meal course, 7 food courses, and 3 dessert courses (appearently, when it is someone's birthday, there is an additional dessert course served). I was getting a little full after the 6th course (the seafood course). I got the 7th course (the meat course) down with no problem and had a little trouble with the 1st dessert course. I was really uncomfortable after the 2nd dessert course and when the 3rd arrived, I just put my head down. I ate it of course. How do you live with yourself the next day knowing that you passed up a dessert at Maestro?

So this is what I meant by "too much food"

(Sitting for lamb chops)

Lamb: Ple-e-e-se Li-i-i-sa I thought you lo-o-o-oved me, lo-o-o-oved me

Marge: Whats Wrong Lisa? Cant get enough lamb chops?

Lisa: I can't eat this, I can't eat a poor little lamb.

Homer: Lisa get a hold yourself, that is lamb, not A lamb.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

At both Maestro and Laboratorio my wife has reached the point where she starves for two days before dinner

I'll have to remember that :smile:

(Sitting for lamb chops)

Lamb: Ple-e-e-se Li-i-i-sa I thought you lo-o-o-oved me, lo-o-o-oved me

Marge: Whats Wrong Lisa? Cant get enough lamb chops?

Lisa: I can't eat this, I can't eat a poor little lamb.

Homer: Lisa get a hold yourself, that is lamb, not A lamb.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...