26 Hours Of Historic Hedonism in Washington, Va.


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Dinner at the storied and five-starred Inn at Little Washington is surely on every foodie’s Bucket List. Problem is, once you’ve drunk from that particular and pricey well, you thirst to go back again and again because, yes, it really is that good. But it’s not just the food. No, it’s the entire description-defying experience.

Following is a little taste of why driving 10 hours for dinner no longer seems extreme and why charging $178/person for dinner seems tantamount to giving it away.

12:30 p.m. My husband, Joe, and I departed Virginia Beach on Good Friday, bound for Washington, Va., a tiny village surveyed by George Washington in 1749. Our four-hour trip took six thanks to relentless traffic.

6:30 p.m. Arrived at the Foster Harris House, as there was no room in the Inn. We slid into dedicated off-street parking and entered the intimate front foyer where we were warmly greeted by chef and innkeeper, John MacPherson, who has co-owned the bed-and-breakfast with his wife, Diane, since 2004. Built in 1905, and an inn since 1984, the two-story home with its welcoming front porch wears its historic character well. Decorating restraint and tasteful modern upgrades prevent the charm from becoming cloying. The overall vibe is simple, fresh, warm and comfortable, with a few luxe touches.

John led us upstairs to our Meadow Room so that we could shower and change before our 8 p.m. reservations. Tucked at the back of the house, the well-appointed, unfussy room is accessed from its own anteroom for added privacy. My road weariness evaporated when John unobtrusively re-appeared at our door with complimentary large pours of tasty wine.

7:45 p.m. Set off down quiet Main Street for a short, pleasant walk—even in heels—to our destination at Middle and Main: the legendary Inn at Little Washington, a Virginia country manor with English roots.

8 p.m. Warmly greeted as we were seamlessly handed-off from one staff member to another between the front door and our corner table for two, we were instantly swept up in the rhythm of what would be a perfectly-timed cadence for the next two hours. And we fell under the spell of the inimitable fusion of service and atmosphere that has contributed to the mythical status of this culinary mecca. Polished and professional, the servers are warm, witty and unpretentious. And the extravagantly patterned ceiling and fringed rose-colored silk lampshades glowing over each of the restaurant’s 30 tables are more whimsical than gaudy, tempered by crisp white tablecloths, tailored seating, and small vases of fresh flowers.

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