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The Ashby Inn, Paris, Virginia - Neal and Star Wavra Have Departed As Innkeepers, Chef David Dunlap Replaces Tarver King

Paris Inn Modern American Built in 1829 Wines Farm to Table Local and Seasonal Bed and Breakfast Separate 4-Room Inn for Let Patio

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#1 bioesq

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Posted 08 June 2008 - 09:56 PM

Ashby Inn seems too close to the city and perhaps too genteel.


We stay at the Ashby Inn on a regular basis, and were there last weekend. It is far more casual than genteel, although there's a bit of that in horse country. Sitting on the balcony and listening to the cows lowing will quickly convince you that the city is not too close. They recently changed chefs, and have, at least for the moment, shortened the menu because of decreased dinner traffic in this stuttering economy, but the food remains wonderful. I know that they have an eight ounce filet listed, but believe that's the only steak offered.

Note, too, that the Inn is quite close to the Sky Meadows State Park, which has very nice hiking trails and beautiful views. One of Paul Mellon's finest contributions to that part of the world.



#2 samsonsizzler

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Posted 15 March 2010 - 12:03 AM

Sorry for the boast of my dear friend Chef Tarver King old boss and forever lasting friend. He has departed from the Goodstone Inn and become chef of the long respected Ashby Inn located in Paris, VA. Not a far drive from the city I'm sure most of the passionate "DonRockwellians" saw the Washington Post review a few months ago; but Tarver has started a blog that you should check out as well!

www.ashbyinn.blogspot.com

He's doing a lot of the similar stuff be was doing at the Goodstone with the same Sommelier Neal Warva, I know I'm excited to check it out, thought you all might be too.

-Logan
Logan Cox

Chef
New Heights Restaurant

#3 goldenticket

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Posted 28 July 2010 - 03:53 PM

In spite of the record-breaking temperatures over the weekend, we enjoyed a very nice stay at the Ashby Inn. Dinner at the Inn was definitely one of the highlights of our little getaway. After a few Goldilocks-like attempts at seating*, we wound up in the very pleasant front room, which we were told was used for overflow. Before arriving at our final table, we did see the outdoor deck - which would be lovely in more comfortable weather - and the Tap Room - which would be a nice cozy spot on a chilly winter evening. There are two other dining rooms; each of the spaces has a different look/ambiance. The room we were seated in had a handful of other 2-tops around the room and a 4-top in the center, allowing privacy, quiet conversation, and plenty of space.

We started with cocktails while looking over the menu - an ASHBY MULE maker’s mark bourbon, laird’s 7 ½ year apple brandy, foraged sumac syrup and a GINGER TONIC sunset hills virginia gin, local honey, ginger, fever tree tonic. As you can see, the commitment to local ingredients extends all the way to the bar menu. Both drinks were unique variations of standards you might see elsewhere. The ginger tonic was a touch sweet for my taste, but the honey was offset by the bite of the ginger. We also ordered a few items from the "Snacks" portion of the menu - buffalo wing crackers, hot & cold cucumber shots, and chicken liver gougeres. They were all very good and provided a variety of tastes and textures. The crackers were similar to a shrimp cracker, with a buffalo kick - light, crispy, and fun. Loved the gougeres - the chicken liver mousse filling was creamy and rich. Cucumber shots were interesting - a layered shot with a cold liquid topped by a warm foam.

For starters I chose the green tomato gazpacho (grilled parmesan crumble, bacon, olive oil espuma) - a perfect combination of tart, salty, crispy, and cool. My +1 ordered the ratatouille... I am drawing a blank of the specific elements and it isn't on the current menu, but it was also a very good dish - a hint of Tarver King's eggplant artistry. I had wanted to order the rockfish (roasted rockfish, cherry tomato, herb gnocchi parisienne, saffron broth), but +1 said he was going to get it, so I chose the pork shoulder (pork shoulder, hot & sour eggplant, chicken crisp, miso, purslane, sesame). While both dishes were excellent, I think we both decided that I got the winner. Each element on its own was delicious and they came together to make an even greater whole. The pork was tender and smoky; the eggplant, in a precise dice, brought tang to the dish; the sesame was a caramelized layer of chewy crunch; and the chicken crisp was...crispy and salty.** The rockfish was cooked just right - a nice light dish, in contrast to my heartier selection.

We shared a dessert - grilled creme fraiche pound cake, blueberry syrup, salted butter ice cream. Yum - my favorite part was the little trompe l'oeil 'pats' of ice cream. The grilled cake was warm with a slight crisp and the blueberry syrup had a hint of mint - so good.

Breakfast, also prepared by Chef King (he must be the hardest working man in Paris, Virginia!), was above and beyond. I 'pigged out' again and got the “Bacon, Egg & Cheese” Sandwich (Ayrshire farm pork, fried egg, cheddar, pickled red onion, roasted potato). It was huge; the pork belly was crispy and fatty and GOOD! Needless to say, I'm off the pig for at least a week... The +1 ordered Eggs Benedict (poached eggs, english muffin, house made canadian bacon, hollandaise, roasted potatoes) - that housemade Canadian bacon was something else. As I told the chef, he has a way with pig :)

I enjoyed all the homemade parts of our meal and liked seeing all the canned, pickled and preserved items on the walls around the Tap Room. I recall seeing a notice from the chef posted in the Upperville market back during his Goodstone days - he was seeking foraged items/foragers. Obviously he's still using those kinds of ingredients, along with produce from the garden out back and products from local farmers who are listed on the menu and the website. There are wine dinners coming up over the next few months, some featuring local wineries Pearmund Cellars and Boxwood. It's definitely worth the drive! (and felt like a very good value for the quality of food and service - about $160 pre-tip with 2 cocktails, 2 glasses of wine and a shared dessert)


* The musical chairs was due to the fact that staff were trying to seat us quickly and were unaware that the 'overflow' room was being used and had seats available. We appreciated that the kind fellow who wound up being our server noticed that we were looking a little uncomfortable outside and offered us a table inside.

** Top Chef flashbacks with two of the components of the dish -1) Kenny recently did a hot and sour eggplant (recreated by Michael Voltaggio here) and 2) I just saw Ilan and his restaurant, The Gorbals, on Cooking Channel's Unique Eats. He made 'greebenes' or , as he called it, "Jewish bacon" - fried chicken skin.

Jackie B.

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#4 OD44

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Posted 28 July 2010 - 05:03 PM

This is great news. We have a cabin very near Paris and go up almost every weekend. Trying the local restaurants is a main source of entertainment. One of my favorites in the area is Apartment 2G in Front Royal. I haven't been to Ashby Inn in a while and am happy to hear about the new chef and new aeshetic. I love the tap room especially in the winter and Sunday brunch has always been a delight.

Christopher

#5 LauraB

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Posted 28 July 2010 - 05:36 PM

In spite of the record-breaking temperatures over the weekend, we enjoyed a very nice stay at the Ashby Inn. Dinner at the Inn was definitely one of the highlights of our little getaway.

Your review is very timely as my husband and I are staying at the Inn for 2 nights in mid-August. It's been a stressful month here and we were looking for a getaway where we could do nothing but read, sleep and eat with a really good restaurant onsite. The Ashby Inn fit the bill and your report confirms that the food will be good. Thank you!

#6 bioesq

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Posted 01 August 2010 - 12:40 PM

In spite of the record-breaking temperatures over the weekend, we enjoyed a very nice stay at the Ashby Inn. Dinner at the Inn was definitely one of the highlights of our little getaway. After a few Goldilocks-like attempts at seating*, we wound up in the very pleasant front room, which we were told was used for overflow. Before arriving at our final table, we did see the outdoor deck - which would be lovely in more comfortable weather - and the Tap Room - which would be a nice cozy spot on a chilly winter evening. There are two other dining rooms; each of the spaces has a different look/ambiance. The room we were seated in had a handful of other 2-tops around the room and a 4-top in the center, allowing privacy, quiet conversation, and plenty of space.

Thanks so much for your review. Four generations of us will be there in a few weeks to celebrate my mother's 90th birthday, and the menu items you discussed sound even more appealing than they were the last time we were there in May.

#7 DonRocks

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Posted 13 October 2010 - 12:08 PM

A few months ago, I had dinner at the Ashby Inn with a friend of the house. After an extraordinary meal on the patio - which is one of the most beautiful dining venues I have ever seen - I wanted to come home and rave about it, but I just didn't feel comfortable with all the extra attention that was received. I knew what I had to do.

On Sunday, I made reservations at 5:30 under a fake name, and purposely sat inside so my opinion wouldn't be colored by the spectacular patio views (it was an absolutely gorgeous autumn day, and there's nothing I wanted more than to sit outside). I had no idea whether or not Tarver King or Neal Wavra would be working.

I waited at the entrance, and Neal (the sommelier and innkeeper (he runs the Inn with his wife, Star, and they have a new eight-week old!)) had just walked down the stairs and asked me if I'd been helped - he then recognized me, but didn't know who I was. We politely (me, nervously) shook hands, and he seated me in a booth. By the time he'd returned with the wine list, he remembered, so my best intentions went for naught (*). He asked me if I'd like Tarver (who I saw through the kitchen window earlier) to cook for me, and I said no, that I'd like to go ahead and order off the menu. I felt falsely auditorial and uncomfortable, but also wanted to keep some distance.

While I was looking over the lists of beers, cocktails, and wines, I was blown away by how complete the beverage program is at Ashby Inn. On the wine list, there are lots of bottles priced in the $30s, and a fair amount priced in the $20s - and these are good, interesting wines from around the world, with a fine selection from Virginia to boot see for yourself). It's one of the top beverage programs in the area.

I ordered a half bottle of Jeff White's 2008 Glen Manor Sauvignon Blanc ($20), and while I was waiting, Neal arrived with the perfect amuse-gueule from Tarver, a little shot of 'hot and cold hard cider', the top being cool and emulsified, trapping the warm beneath, and lending a white moustache to all who partake.

Gougères ($4) with Parmesan Mornay
Fried Panisse ($3) with Nasturtium Pesto

Neither the prices, nor the items, are typos. The Ashby Inn is a hyper-local restaurant, with many of the herbs in their dishes grown literally in their own back yard. Neal came over to check on things, and I was raving about both items, but especially the panisse because nobody else in the area is serving a dish like this. I mentioned that I had to get this instead of the edamame, but then he said the edamame is grown on a one-acre organic plot in Front Royal. Really? Well then ...

Salted Edamame ($2).

Yes, two dollars, and as many times as I've had edamame in the past, this is the first time I've ever had edamame. Done simply with olive oil, perhaps the barest hint of apple vinegar, and coarse salt, these irregularly sized, variantly colored beauties, some still bonded at the stem, made up one of the most compelling dishes I've ever had. They were perfect. And they were two dollars!

I asked for a glass of Sherry to accompany the edamame, and Neal brought me two half pours, served blind. I thought the one on the left was a lighter Amontillado (in retrospect, I should have guessed Fino), and the one on the right (darker, more burnished) was an Oloroso - with this dish, I had a strong preference for the one on the left. So much so, that I went into a trance.

Lo and behold, one of the greatest food and wine pairings of my life: Ashby Inn's Edamame with Pearmund Cellars' Vin de Sol "dessert wine." (It actually says "dessert wine" on the label - nonsense.) It was a dead ringer for a teasingly fruity, light-colored Sherry, the kind that makes you salivate for salted almonds, and the combination was as perfect as if you were sitting in a dockside café in Nantes, having raw shellfish with a Muscadet-Sèvre et Maine. Food and wine does not get any better than this. You could spend a thousand dollars and not come up with a better pairing.

I asked Neal for recommendations off the menu, and he recommended exactly what I would NOT have ordered:

Butternut Squash Soup ($10) with smoked honey, spiced cream, chestnuts, and sage
Roasted Turkey ($32) with buttermilk biscuit, sunchoke vélouté, apple and pecan salad

Okay, fall, yes, but I didn't want to order Thanksgiving Dinner because I wanted this restaurant to succeed, not fail. Everyone in town is serving butternut squash soup right now, and there's almost no way these dishes were going to be outstanding.

And as usual, I was wrong.

Unapologetically sweet, the soup was as good as any butternut squash soup I've tried, and the previously clumsy second glass of Sherry (a Lustau Escuadrilla Rare Amontillado, by the way) sprang into life with the chestnuts and smoked honey.

Between courses, Neal brought out another appetizer, a Steak Tartare ($12) with triple-cooked potato, artichoke, mustard, onion, and a nugget of gold: a single, sunnyside-up fried egg. 'This egg,' he said, 'is from Flohas Farm in Orlean, Virginia. A husband and wife raise a small breed of chickens called silky click). They own three persimmon trees and feed them persimmons.' And wow, and damned if this isn't reflected in the yolk itself - a deep, almost orange-like golden that tasted like it's infused with saffron. And the Lustau with this dish got even better (think: Sherry, egg, potato).

(*) I'm certain Tarver wished he had some naughty bits of turkey to use for my plating, but he only had breast meat left from the locally sourced turkeys - he'd reduced everything else into the gravy - but somehow he managed to take sliced breast of turkey, and make it into a world-class dish, plated with such artistry that I refused to use my cell-phone camera to ruin it. I'd ordered a half bottle of the 2008 Glen Manor "Hodder Hill" ($29) which was lovely but almost too tannic for the delicacy of this dish; it would be better with a red meat course.

But ah! There was chocolate for dessert, and nothing goes better with dry, red wine than chocolate.

Spiced Chocolate Pudding ($10) with candied cereals and paw paw ice cream...

paw paw ice cream...

paw paw ice cream...

paw paw ice cream...

went beautifully with the wine, and this is where the rave takes a brief respite, because about the only thing Tarver does that I don't love is using seaweed to gel certain dishes - I remember this once from my meal before, and it was the same with the chocolate pudding. Obviously this has become common practice in high-end culinary, but both times at Ashby, there was a slight "thickness" in the skin that left me with an unfavorable tactile impression.

During the dessert course, I asked for a pad of paper, which Neal brought to the table. I then proceeded to write a long, drippy letter to Neal and Tarver, telling them exactly how I felt about their unbelievable oasis of paradise. In the note, I insisted on getting billed for every single thing, including the steak tartare, because I knew what I was going to do when I got home. Also in the note, I asked for a carryout order: a double portion of edamame ($4), the rest of the bottle of Pearmund Vin de Sol ($38), and something special for the ride home: a Padron "Anniversary 1964" ($22), Nicaraguan wrapper filler and binder, aged 6 years, 5 x 50.

On the way out, I asked Neal if I could thank Tarver. I stuck my head in the kitchen, he came over, and we shook hands. There wasn't much to say except thank you, it was awesome, etc., so I shook hands with Neal, walked out the door, took the little path leading to the parking lot, opened the passenger's door to my car, put in my carryout bag, took out the cigar and matches, shut the door, walked around to the driver's side, waited for the car light to go off, lit my cigar, stood there for a few minutes, and then looked upwards. There were stars in the sky.

Cheers,
Rocks.

(A special-occasion restaurant at everyday prices. Don't let autumn pass without dining on the patio at Ashby Inn. Raised to bold.)

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#8 DanielK

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Posted 13 October 2010 - 12:49 PM

Roasted Turkey ($32) with buttermilk biscuit, sunchoke vélouté, apple and pecan salad

(A special-occasion restaurant at everyday prices.

Sounds like an incredible meal, but $32 for an entree, especially for a turkey plate, is hardly everyday prices.

#9 DonRocks

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Posted 13 October 2010 - 02:19 PM

Sounds like an incredible meal, but $32 for an entree, especially for a turkey plate, is hardly everyday prices.

And neither is the $22 cigar I had. Just because I chose to make it festive, doesn't mean anyone else has to - here's my choice for an economical dinner for two, taken from their October 10th menu:

Bottle 2008 Muga Rosé 20

Salted Edamame 2
Salted Edamame 2

Fried Panisse, Nasturtium Pesto 3
Mushroom Arancini 3

Butternut squash soup, smoked honey, spiced cream, chestnuts, sage 10
Crab cake, pickle celery root & dill salad, warm caper aioli, cured yolk 12

Pleasant ridge reserve cheese, ham, pecans, mostarda, brioche toast 10 (split)

Warm butter cake, caramelized apple, vanilla cream, candied peanut, bourbon 10 (split)

Total cost for FIVE COURSES WITH A BOTTLE OF WINE, before tax and tip: $72.
Total cost of a Restaurant Week dinner for two at Shitville, THREE COURSES WITHOUT ANYTHING TO DRINK, before tax and tip: $70.20.

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#10 epicured13

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Posted 13 December 2010 - 08:02 PM

I read the article on best restaurants in Northern Va magazine...Ashby Inn rated #1 in food and only minutes from my house, so we had to try it. Went for lunch on a Saturday. It is a quintessential Va inn in hunt country not far from Upperville. Go for a couple of the "snacks" to start...we had cod beignets and crab crackers...only a few bucks each and excellent (ever changing, we were told) The butternut squash soup with roasted hazlenuts and a spoon of creme fraiche...although it was not fully up to temp, it was the best I have ever had. We split an entree (extra charge) of the rockfish tempura...light and greaseless. If there are any left, get a bottle of the Linden Sauvignon Blanc...only 10 left when we were there but the best Va white we have had to date. Sommelier is very well versed and the GM (French chap) came from the Inn at Little Washington as wine director. This place beats up on L'Auberge Provencale in White Post.

If you have time, shoot up 50 a few more miles towards Winchester and go to the Locke Store in Millwood...excellent wine selection, homemade desserts/entrees salads(ideal for takeout and even better when its warm to picnic across the street adjacent to a working mill from the lates 1700's), VA meats and cheeses. (Get a bottle of Wizzie's tea)

Cheers!

#11 squidsdc

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Posted 02 May 2011 - 01:04 PM

This place needs to get some more attention--we took my sister and brother-in-law for a belated holiday meal yesterday and had a delightful brunch. $45 for 3 courses, and the quality of food and service is exceptional. I tried to upload some photos, but will need to do so later from home.*

I can't offer descriptions of the food I did not taste, but suffice it to say that we were all very impressed and amazed how inexpensive a meal in such a lovely setting. Pre-tax/tip for 4 of us with coffee/drinks was just over $200.

Apps we ate:
Warm pate en croute, fiddlehead fern salad, hazelnuts picked garlic and ramp dressing-hubby doesn't usually order or enjoy pate, but he loved this. As did BIL.

Roasted beets, feta puree honey emulsion, pea shoots, mustard oil -SIL really enjoyed this, but we didn't talk much (too much MMMMHH and AAAHHH going on)

Arugula salad, radish, cauliflower, poached egg, creme fraiche- This was lovely, except I'm sure lacking a by the exception (due to allergy) of the dilled ramps. As such, the poached egg needed a bit more seasoning for my liking, but I enjoyed it just the same.

Entrees:
Braised lamb crepinette, chic peas, goat's cream, maitake, cinnamon jus- BIL was amazed how soft and tender the lamb was; literally was falling apart on the plate. Cinnamon jus was poured on at tableside and wafted a wonderful aroma.

Chicken + waffles, plucked chicken, bacon caramel, almonds, sage-3 of us ordered this and we were not sorry. Umm can you say bacon caramel? And the chicken had so much flavor; I don't think I've ever had one like this before. It almost tasted like dark turkey meat, but not, if that helps. Oh, and the fresh sage was the perfect complement.

Desserts:
Chocolate torte, crystallized pecan butter, popcorn sherbet, toffee cream-(3 of us ordered this B) ) OMG. Popcorn Sherbet is out of this world. But especially when eaten with the crystalized pecan butter (think rock candy that tastes like pecan) and the dreamy chocolate torte which was the perfect consistency. Unbelievably good.

Pistachio sponge cake, milk chocolate, namelaka, crispy marshmallow, mint. -SIL said this was fabulous as well.

Coffee was also wonderful. I can't recall where they said it was from, but it is a local roaster about an hour away; quality to match the food. Service was friendly. Would go back in a heartbeat.

*the food presentations were not the prettiest but I actually enjoyed the fact that it wasn't too "precious" or "perfect" looking.

"Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain"--The Great Oz


#12 DanCole42

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 02:21 PM

I think there's a culinary ley line that runs beneath the ground from the Ashby Inn in Paris to Trummer's on Main in Clifton. These are two restaurants that are in the middle of nowhere and just consistently put out some of the best food around.

Every dish we had was prepared exquisitely. This is the passion that we found so lacking at Tuscarora Mill. The toast on the brandade, toast, and vinegar "snack" ($4) was toasted so goddamn evenly that it was like the chef had taken a spray can of "golden brown and delicious" paint and given it an exactly even coating. The crust on our sandwiches were well-developed in terms of flavor but without being overly hard for a sandwich. The tabasco butter and tomato water risotto was done so well that I felt like the chef was treating us like the Queen of England on a Saturday night, rather than Dan and Jordana on a Wednesday lunch.

Also, hands-down the best fries ever.

Service was outstanding. Neal even came over with a map to recommend some great nearby wineries.

Let's see...
Brandade, toast, and vinegar snack...
Warm apple cider with spuma...
Ashby Mule cocktail (featuring foraged sumac syrup)...
A generous pour of Delaplane Cellars "Cinq"...
Tabasco butter and tomato risotto...
Crab cake...
Smoked beef sandwich with goat gouda and fries..
Chicken sandwich with dijonaisse..
Brown butter cake and ice cream...
Complete composed cheese course...
Deliciously brewed, hot coffee...
Tax...
Tip...
$125

Incidentally, that's only two dollars more than I paid for less food at Tuscarora the night before. And it sickens me to even mention them in the same post.

Before the check even came we'd booked our reservations with Neal for our anniversary dinner in October.

Three stars. Worthy of a special journey.
-Dan

GChat: DanCole42

MORBO: The challenger's ugly food has shown us that even hideous things can be sweet on the inside.

#13 DanCole42

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Posted 17 October 2011 - 10:17 AM

Running list of Best Meals Ever:

1980 - Chez Breast Milk
1983 - McDonald's
1987 - Taco Bell
1988 - Flatbread
1995 - Mainland Inn
2002 - Allred's in Telluride
2006 - Citronelle
2007 - 2941
2008 - Komi

Other standouts of course include Cityzen, Sou'wester (when Rachael was there), Trummer's on Main, and Vidalia. But now we have a new entry for the Best Meal Ever list:

2011 - Ashby Inn

The current champion won us over a few weeks ago during lunch. My wife and I looked at each other and said, "we have to spent our anniversary here." So we did.

After checking into the Fan Room, which is directly above the restaurant and provides a glorious view of the surrounding countryside, we headed down and enjoyed a drink in the cozy library.

Posted Image
Then it was off to dinner where we were wowed in seven courses. A lot of meals have great, amazing, wonderful courses, but even at the best of times you'll have a dish that's "just okay" or "really good, but just not as great as the last course." At Ashby, every single item was a total blast. It was like a homerun derby. Everything was just out of the park and into my swooning stomach.

Two dishes stood out: the chestnut soup and the paw paw dessert. Fall is my favorite season - as I'm fond of quoting, "Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower" (Camus) - so to be presented with two dishes that embodied fall in smell and taste and sight was a real, real treat. I highly recommend taking a look at the paw paw dessert.

What really does it for me at Ashby is not that each dish is prepared with precision and is seasoned just so, but that every dish we had brought out some kind of emotion - everything we ate reminded us of something, even if we couldn't exactly place what it was - it was just familiar, and it felt good.

The menu is below. It's worth a trip to Paris.

SP32-20111017-110455.gif

Having a room right above the restaurant was totally worth it, BTW.
-Dan

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MORBO: The challenger's ugly food has shown us that even hideous things can be sweet on the inside.

#14 DanCole42

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Posted 17 October 2011 - 10:21 AM

Oh crap, I almost forgot! If you stay with them, you get an incredible breakfast! I had eggs benedict with poached eggs, beef brisket, pickled cabbage, and choron.

Also, you can request a picnic to go! Perfect for taking wine tasting. Ours included duck neck sausage, speck, ciabatta, crackers and crostini, pate, purple mustard, pickled leeks, fried chicken, coleslaw, a cheese plate, and mignardises.

God I'm fucking hungry right now.
  • NolaCaine likes this
-Dan

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MORBO: The challenger's ugly food has shown us that even hideous things can be sweet on the inside.

#15 monavano

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Posted 17 October 2011 - 11:49 AM

Autumn is my favorite too. You've got me determined to go stay at the Inn and have dinner there. Should be really nice around Christmas time....

#16 DanielS

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Posted 17 October 2011 - 09:02 PM

My wife and I ate here on Saturday night for the first time, lemme just say wow!

Think Minibar/Volt in a country inn setting.

We made a meal of the snacks, appetizers, cheese course, and desserts. Throw in some great bread and butter, a palate cleanser, and some treats at the end of the meal and we left stuffed.

You could go crazy on the "snacks" alone. I could eat a bowl of the pretzel gourgeres filled with cheddar/beer.

I will agree with Dan, the roasted chestnut soup was the star of the meal. Bacon cream, mmmm.

Service was great, the setting is very comfortable, nothing stuffy at all.

Cant wait to return.

Daniel S.

#17 LauraB

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 05:18 PM

I cannot say enough good things about The Ashby Inn. We have been there 4 times in the last year. Our first visit was for Thanksgiving 2010, which was so spectacular that we decided to repeat the experience this year. Just returned home from another incredible Thanksgiving at the Ashby Inn. For each of those 2 Thanksgivings we stayed overnight in the Glascock Room in the School House -- a separate building less than 50 yards up the road from the main Inn. Each of the 4 rooms in the School House has its own wood-burning fireplace and covered porch on the backside of the building, overlooking the grounds and the surrounding rolling hillsides. It just couldn't be more comfortable or romantic.

With regard to the food served at the Ashby Inn: Their chef, Tarver King, is one of the best chefs in the greater DC area. I'd rank him up there with the very best. The food here is simply spectacular. Even on a holiday, when you don't expect spectacular, it still is. Our dinner yesterday, frankly, we'd rate above the disappointing dinner we had at Komi 2 weeks ago. In addition to Tarver King, Neal Wavra, the sommelier is outstanding. I had the wine pairings with our dinner yesterday and, if I could find them, I'd buy a case of every one of them.

Since our first visit last Thanksgiving, we have been out there twice for Sunday brunches on their really lovely patio -- this is one of the best outdoor venues in the greater DC area. One doesn't necessarily expect great food at brunch, and yet, once again, The Ashby Inn delivers. Last spring we had the most incredible Copper River Salmon appetizer -- if this were our last meal, we would die happy. In fact, I asked if I could have it for dessert.

The drive to the Inn from DC is not that long and really pleasant on Rte 50 through the villages of Middleburg and Upperville. From our home in Rockville, it took us an hour and 10 minutes yesterday morning. (Granted, there was no traffic.)

We learned this morning from Star Wavra (Neal's wife and the other half of the great management team), that they will be closing for about a month in late February for renovations. They will be enlarging the kitchen. Imagine what Tarver could do with an even bigger kitchen!

#18 jiveturk21

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Posted 27 December 2011 - 03:12 PM

Dinner on Christmas Eve was nearly perfect. I think that the service could have been more attentive, I hate sitting there reading the menu with no drink in my hand, but everything else was spot on. The pork crepinnete was the best thing that we ate for dinner that night, and possibly for the past several months, but everything else was a close second, especially the warm buttercake dessert.

I would love to go again when the weather is nicer and we can order from more of the menu, the Ashby Inn is truly a must go for anyone that has the means to hop in their car and drive out to Paris, VA.

#19 lggl

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 12:47 PM

We are going to a wine dinner at the Ashby Inn later this month and need some help. We are staying two nights at the Inn. So do we eat there on the 2nd night also? I think I know dancole42's answer. I am not sure what else is around there except the places in Middleburg. Maybe goodstone inn? Any recommendations are greatly appreciated. I will report back after the wine dinner, but after reading above expectations are high!

#20 dgreen

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 01:06 PM

We are going to a wine dinner at the Ashby Inn later this month and need some help. We are staying two nights at the Inn. So do we eat there on the 2nd night also? I think I know dancole42's answer. I am not sure what else is around there except the places in Middleburg. Maybe goodstone inn? Any recommendations are greatly appreciated. I will report back after the wine dinner, but after reading above expectations are high!


The closest is going to be Hunter's Head Tavern in Upperville, just a few minutes from Paris.

#21 southdenverhoo

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 04:23 PM

I might be tempted to go west instead of east and try this place: http://www.oneblockwest.com/

I haven't been yet so no experience-based recommendation, but everything I've read makes me want to give it a try next time I'm home in Fauquier County. My problem always is that its around 40 miles from my folks' house, and that same 40 miles in the opposite direction puts me practically in DC where the available options always seem to win out over driving over the hill to Winchester. But if one is already in Paris....

#22 DonRocks

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 05:49 PM

We are going to a wine dinner at the Ashby Inn later this month and need some help. We are staying two nights at the Inn. So do we eat there on the 2nd night also? I think I know dancole42's answer. I am not sure what else is around there except the places in Middleburg. Maybe goodstone inn? Any recommendations are greatly appreciated. I will report back after the wine dinner, but after reading above expectations are high!


You're going to be having breakfast there, too, don't forget, so even with one dinner that will be three meals at the restaurant. I think the dinner is *so* special, that I'd see if the weather may cooperate enough to sit on the patio, and pick the warmer of the two evenings (lots of luck in January), and go elsewhere for the second evening - having a second dinner at Ashby may diminish the memories of the first. Such problems you have. :)

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#23 DanCole42

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 11:29 PM

You're going to be having breakfast there, too, don't forget, so even with one dinner that will be three meals at the restaurant. I think the dinner is *so* special, that I'd see if the weather may cooperate enough to sit on the patio, and pick the warmer of the two evenings (lots of luck in January), and go elsewhere for the second evening - having a second dinner at Ashby may diminish the memories of the first. Such problems you have. :)


I would add to that that, as you're out and about, you can have them prepare you a picnic lunch. Ours included duck neck sausage, speck, ciabatta, crackers and crostini, pate, purple mustard, pickled leeks, coleslaw, a cheese plate, mignardises, and some of the best fried chicken this side of the Colonel's string tie.
-Dan

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MORBO: The challenger's ugly food has shown us that even hideous things can be sweet on the inside.

#24 DanCole42

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 09:01 AM

Brûléed sottoncenere cheese, bacon toasted, scrambled egg espuma, ham balsamic.
Black chocolate spongecake, barley ice cream, whipped chocolate, vincotto.
70 layer lasagna, preserved tomato jus, arugula salad, parmesan.
Korean hot pot filled with all different kinds of succulent, moist meats.

And that's just the stuff I remember. There were also at least four different snacks plus two appetizers, all of it served in a cozy country inn nestled in a mountain pass (like someplace out of Lord of the Rings).

The fact that my wife and I got this much food from a chef who's a goddamn artistic genius for around $100 is mind-boggling.

Seriously, GTFO to Ashby before Tarver King wins a Beard award and gets famous.
-Dan

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#25 lggl

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 10:23 PM

We had an AMAZING dinner at the Ashby last week. I just spent 20 minutes trying to find the menu and am so pissed I can't put my hands on it. It started with 3 oysters - one cold, one warm and one hot. Each one was incredible in its own right and I don't even like oysters. Each of the next several courses were unique in both taste and presentation. Tarver King is a rock star. If I can find the menu, I will scan it in and share it. But needless to say, you don't need to see what we ate for proof. I will be a DanCole42 copycat and say I have been converted or baptised or whatever. Go eat there. Period.

But Neal Warva, OMFG, what a treat. Entertaining, knowledgeable, engaging. Just a joy to listen to and be able to share is love and knowledge of wine. The pairings were phenomenal - all from australia, tasmania and new zealand.

We totally lucked out with the weather and were able to get in some golf and visited Three Fox and Barrel Oak. In January! Both were surprisingly good. Although, I still believe that VA wines are very much way over priced. We had dinner at Hunters Head one night. While the food was quite good, the ordering system is beyond stupid. That alone would dissuade me from returning. But those topics are discussions for other threads.

Anyway, get thee to the Ashby Inn. Soon. Stay the night if you can. The rooms are phenomenally inviting and comfortable - fire places, private porches, the whole nine yards. (With complimentary port!) The people are pleasant and great hosts. The breakfasts are also amazing by the way and the servers just great. I have drunk/drank the koolaid and seen the light(s). Their names are Tarver and Neal and they deserve our patronage.

(Arguably, this meal was better than our last tasting at Eve and dinner at the Inn at Little Washington)

Edited by lggl, 03 February 2012 - 10:29 PM.


#26 DanCole42

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 09:49 AM

I can only assume that this thread only has one page of posts on it because everyone here who dines at Ashby comes back carrying too much awe that they forget how to read and write.

My wife and I went for lunch on this gorgeous past Saturday. We had what amounted to a fourteen course meal (four snacks, two split apps, two split entrees, two split desserts, three different lagniappes and bread) plus five outstanding glasses of wine between us, plus tax and tip, for under $200.

Cashew and bacon brittle, grilled asparagus risotto, smoked butter burger with anchovy mayo, chocolate pound cake with salted butter ice cream (holy fuck... HOLY FUCK!!!!!!!) and many more incredibly artistic and flavorful dishes, all served here:

303665_10101618189547024_1585037206_n.jpg

That's a glass of 2010 Hume vineyard rosé. It tasted like the day.

You guys... you guys... seriously. You guys. You guys!!

No excuses. Get out there. This is some of the most exciting food happening anywhere in the country. And innkeeper/sommelier Neal Wavra does a great job of making you feel like you're coming home every time you visit!
-Dan

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MORBO: The challenger's ugly food has shown us that even hideous things can be sweet on the inside.

#27 B.A.R.

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 09:29 AM

My wife and I enjoyed a lovely meal on the Veranda last night and everything was just superb. The setting is idyllic, the service is gracious, and the food and drink delicious.

A special commendation to the Innkeeper and Sommelier, Neal Wavra. The beverage program here is interesting, thoughtful, and exciting. Neal deftly pops by, table-to-table, introduces the food and wine, and just as smoothly recedes. Entertaining, informative and omnipresent (yet never smothering), he is a pro.

There were some misses on a few of our dishes but that can happen when the menu changes as frequently as this one appears to do. A little too much sauce here, an out of balance flavor there, but on the whole, a really well put together meal. There is value here as well-the entrees are large and two people could easily be sated ordering a couple of snacks, share an app, two entrees, share a dessert for about $100. Drinks extra, of course.

This is a special place.

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#28 Bart

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Posted 09 August 2012 - 03:42 PM

Went to the Ashby Inn last night and had a wonderful meal on the back porch. Perfect weather, beautiful views of the gardens and hills, a friendly and knowledgeable staff and a great meal with a couple of “WOW!” moments.

My wife and I got the Chef’s Tasting Menu with the wine pairing and, half way through, convinced a nearby table to do the same. The Tasting Menu is 8 or so courses of items from the regular menu. It should be noted that it seems like they change their menu often. The menu online is from less than a month ago and nearly every single dish is different from what was on our menu! Luckily they sent us home with a printed copy so I have some idea of what we had.

The meal started out with four “snacks”. Fried Pickles with spicy mayo (the only dish that remained on the menu from the online version), a long thin radish, that was pickled in vinegar which you dip into some spice mixture, salt cod and potato “fritters” and some spiced cashews.

The first real course was a stunner and possibly the highlight of the evening. The menu listed it as “chilled peach soup, ham & oat crumble, malt sabayon, sour cream, hyssop”. I’m not sure what some of those items are, but they all worked together to create a great dish. The real star however, was the presentation. They placed a large, shallow, white bowl on the table that held a smaller, clear bowl. In the clear bowl were a dab of a yellow substance (looked like an egg yolk), a smear of white (the sour cream), some herbs and some crunchy bits. Between the two bowls and visible through the clear bowl were some dried grasses that were actually previously on fire and still smoking when it arrived at the table!! The effect was wonderful - - you got this great smoky “taste” in your nose while you ate the soup. Speaking of the soup, they ladled it into the clear bowl at the table. It was really wonderful – the soup and the stuff in the bottom of the bowl all blended together to create a really memorable dish. Of course the presentation didn’t hurt either!

The bowl before the soup was added:
Soup before.JPG

After the soup was added:
soup after.JPG

This is one of my favorite things about getting a tasting menu. You’re forced to try things you’d probably avoid. I love peaches, but probably wouldn’t have ordered peach soup because other items appealed to me more, but I’m sure glad I got this dish.

The next dish was called “Pizza with Knife and Fork” which was a deconstructed pizza. It had chunks of tomato, bread, basil, soft mozzarella cheese, and some tiny pepperoni cubes with a smear of pepperoni sauce.

The fish course was a seared grouper with eggplant espuma, wax beans and tomato and anchovy butter, capers and rye. This was another highlight as the fish was cooked perfectly with a nice golden “crust” on one side while the fish itself was moist and flakey.

The next big “WOW” moment came with the meat course. They presented us with a plate with a rock on it sitting on bed of salt. We were warned not to touch the rock as it was 400 degrees. We then cooked a little slice of beef on the rock…..about 30 seconds per side for medium rare.

Next was a cheese course, which didn’t look like cheese at all. It was gouda that they turned into liquid and whipped and smeared over the plate on top of kettle corn, along with rosehip gel. It sounds weird but it was very good and a bit of surprise to find that the thing in front of us that looked like some kind of dessert was actually cheese.

Two dessert courses were next. The first was “chocolate buttercake, nutella cream, hazelnut shortbread, barley ice cream, salt”. Lots of flavors and textures going on here, but it was really great. It’s unlikely I would have ordered something with barley ice cream in it, but I’m glad I got to try it. The second dessert wasn’t written up on the menu so I don’t have a nice description to refer to, but it was four little bites.

The wine pairing were a nice complement to the dishes and 2 courses featured Virginia wines. The dessert was paired with a Hazelnut Brown Ale.

My only complaint was that it was over too quickly and/or the portions were too small. I was surprised when the server announced the dessert because it didn’t seem like we ate enough to be on dessert. My goal was not to leave so fat and bloated that I couldn’t walk, but I could have handled another course or two without any problems.

All in all it was a great gourmet meal at a setting that has to be one the prettiest in DC area. And the staff were great too. If you go, I’d recommend getting there early enough to enjoy the daylight into sunset time period and make sure you sit outside. It’s never THAT warm in the shade.

#29 The Hersch

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Posted 09 August 2012 - 03:58 PM

You must have more pictures. Please post them.

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#30 Bart

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Posted 09 August 2012 - 04:25 PM

Yes I do, but the quality is not that great. Lots of shadows to contend with and I was trying to be discreet so I just took the photos even thought the light was not great.

Here are 3 of the four apps (cashews not shown):

apps.JPG

Here's the pizza with a knife and fork:
pizza.JPG

Here's the grouper:
fish.JPG

And here's the steak cooking on the rock:
steak.JPG

#31 Bart

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Posted 09 August 2012 - 04:29 PM

Here's the cheese course (that I thought was some sort of ice cream dessert):cheese.JPG

Here's the dessert that was listed on the menu. It looked and tasted much better in person!:
dessert1.JPG

Here's the second round of desserts:
dessert2.JPG

#32 DonRocks

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Posted 09 August 2012 - 04:56 PM

dessert1.JPG


The droppings of a lactose-intolerant yak.

I'm kidding! I'm kidding!

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#33 The Hersch

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Posted 09 August 2012 - 06:39 PM

Yes I do, but the quality is not that great. Lots of shadows to contend with and I was trying to be discreet so I just took the photos even thought the light was not great.


The pictures aren't bad at all, and most of the food is visually quite appealing (the yak droppings aside).

Thanks for indulging me.

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Who taught my grief to thee?


#34 Bart

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Posted 10 August 2012 - 07:18 AM

The pictures aren't bad at all, and most of the food is visually quite appealing (the yak droppings aside).

Thanks for indulging me.


My pleasure. The acutal food looked much better than the photos suggest, including and especially the yak-infused dessert.

And I don't know if I made my point strong enough about the soup with dried, smoking grasses, but it was an awesome dish. I've never come across anything like it, but it was a winner on every level. People should rush out there and try it before they run out of peaches.

#35 adjen

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 09:39 PM

The slice of beef to cook on a rock sounds like a dish from when the chef was at Goodstone Inn. It was fun and delicious then. And it led me to start following Tarver King.

#36 Joe H

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 08:42 PM

We went to the Ashby Inn tonight and had dinner. We were told that last night both Open Table and their phone system were down. We are also not insensitive to the problems and costs of a storm but that is another topic.

This was our first visit to the Ashby Inn and I totally understand why several (or more) are upset with my original comments here. I should not have been so quick to pass judgment on either restaurant. I sincerely apologize.

As for the restaurant: this quite simply is one of the best restaurants in the United States. I could not rave more about it. From an imaginatively presented roasted chestnut bisque to one of the best dishes I have ever had, a "grilled beef short rib with kale, smoked potato, Stilton and preserved fig jus" this was one of our best dining experiences in a long time.

An extraordinary experience actually. We both thought the equal of The Inn.

Additionally its wine list may have the most complete selection of Virginia wines that I have seen incuding the '09 Glen Manor Hodder Hill. This was not available at the winery (sold out) but the Ashby Inn has it. A great wine; I think on the level of Octagon and Keswick Reserve. I have their '07 which is drinking well right now-but the '09. Wow!

We also found a remarkably atmospheric inn and pub in Upperville on the way back, the Blackthorne Inn (formerly the 1763 but we were told it has undergone an extension renovation and expansion). We only had a drink-no food-but the character and history of the many rooms as well as the adjacent pond is amazing. To experience both this and the Ashby Inn in the same night was a wonderful escape.

We will return to the Ashby Inn many times.

I should also mention that we were told that the Wayside Inn is not under the same ownership that it was many years ago.

#37 B.A.R.

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 08:49 AM

Fabulous! It is a very special place, isn't it? My wife and I eat out a lot, but I post very little. Most of the time it is because the meal themselves becomes indistinguishable to most other meals by the time I get around to post.

My last meal at the Ashby is (was) an exception. Over time, it has actually improved in my memory; there are very few meals I can say this about.

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#38 lggl

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 12:37 PM

Joe H - I am so, so pleased to read your review of the Ashby Inn. In my snide defense of the Inn, I unwittingly undercut the very point I was tryng to make about the internets. :wacko:

Anyhow, I think my hasty reaction was driven in part by the fact that your opinions on restaurants and wine mean a great deal to many strangers on this board like myself and I was fearful that it would have an impact you might not have intended. I truly hope a review from JoeH will lead people to try the Ashby and the phenomenal talent of Tarver King and Neal Wavra. We have eaten there many times (once three time in the same weekend!) and have never been disappointed. My only disappointment is that I can't live closer to it to experience it more regularly.

#39 Joe H

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 06:09 PM

Thank you for the really nice thoughts, Iggl. I cannot tell you how jealous I am to even fantasize about three meals at the Ashby Inn in the same weekend!

For ourselves we have committed to returning for my birthday with a night at their Inn also. Somehow the progression from Provence to Tuscany to the foothills of the Blueridge seems natural and destined.

And we don't have to cross an ocean.

#40 DonRocks

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 08:44 PM

Thank you for the really nice thoughts, Iggl. I cannot tell you how jealous I am to even fantasize about three meals at the Ashby Inn in the same weekend!

For ourselves we have committed to returning for my birthday with a night at their Inn also. Somehow the progression from Provence to Tuscany to the foothills of the Blueridge seems natural and destined.

And we don't have to cross an ocean.


I urge anyone staying at The Ashby Inn to stay on the top floor of the School House - it costs more, and it's worth more. It would be one of the truly memorable nights of your life. I checked a random evening, mid-week, in late November, and it's $275. Yes, that's a lot of money in absolute terms, but for what you get, it's money well-spent and not at all excessive.

For a birthday or special occasion? No-brainer. I've recommended The Ashby Inn more than any other restaurant in the DC area for couples celebrating special occasions.

All four rooms, i.e., the entire building, can be rented (presumably for 4 x $275).

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#41 Joe H

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 08:52 PM

http://www.ashbyinn....scock_room.html Glascock room in the School House? This is what we reserved.

#42 DonRocks

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 08:57 PM

http://www.ashbyinn....scock_room.html Glascock room in the School House? This is what we reserved.


Yes, that's one of the upstairs rooms. You'll never regret staying here.

For most of my life, I completely slummed it on hotel rooms, and dined at insanely expensive restaurants. Remind me to tell you about my nightmare involving the $30 hotel room and $60 glass of Cognac in Miami.

Now, however, it seems like I'm finding the opposite to be true. Fine dining has gotten ex-PEN-sive, and I guess that - maybe because there's nothing left for me to do, dining-wise (I've essentially dined at the finest restaurants in the world, more times than I can count, and the "thrill of discovery" is largely academic for me at this point) - I'm finding luxury rooms to be a welcome flip-side of the either-or construct.

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#43 kirite

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 09:00 PM

I urge anyone staying at The Ashby Inn to stay on the top floor of the schoolhouse - it costs more, and it's worth more.


Two days before we were to spend two weeks in Paris and Barcelona, I tore the meniscus in my left knee. But we were determined to get to Paris. So about ten days ago we went to Paris (as in Virginia) and had a memorable lunch at the Ashby Inn. It was 83 degrees and wonderful for patio dining. Impeccable service, superb and inventive food. I really loved the pickled dilly beans. And inasmuch as we were seated next to the little pond, we took several pictures of a very contented frog.

#44 DanCole42

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Posted 05 November 2012 - 10:46 AM

http://www.ashbyinn....scock_room.html Glascock room in the School House? This is what we reserved.


I would also add to the list of recommended rooms the "Fan Room." It has a balcony that is directly over the backdoor of the kitchen, and is right upstairs from the dining room. So before dinner you can smell the food wafting up, and after dinner when you're too full of food and drink to move, you just walk upstairs and watch Starship Troopers.
-Dan

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MORBO: The challenger's ugly food has shown us that even hideous things can be sweet on the inside.

#45 DonRocks

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 06:11 PM

Thank you to Neal Wavra

IMG_0441.jpg

Tarver King

IMG_0442.jpg

and Matt Rockwell

IMG_0443.jpg

for one of the most perfect afternoons I've ever had.

Strongly maintained in Bold, and absolutely one of only a small handful of world-class dining experiences in the Washington, DC area.

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#46 Robert Rymarz

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 08:53 AM

Don, You do realize you have done it again? At least this time you have kept it within 500 miles of my home. And to think I was in the area last week. :lol:

#47 DonRocks

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 10:13 AM

Don, You do realize you have done it again? At least this time you have kept it within 500 miles of my home. And to think I was in the area last week. :lol:


No! Wait until spring. Get a room in the School House and book a table on the patio when you *know* it's going to be 70 degrees outside. Don't do it now.

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#48 B.A.R.

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 10:43 AM

No! Wait until spring. Get a room in the School House and book a table on the patio when you *know* it's going to be 70 degrees outside. Don't do it now.


I disagree. Do it NOW! Restaurants are somewhat ephemeral, and this restaurant is magnificent right now. The patio is a lovely spot for a meal, and certainly enhances the ambiance, but the food and service is outstanding inside or out, sunny and 70 or 40 degrees and raining.

Brian Reymann
I'm in the business but content here solely my own and is not associated with my employer at all.

Sometimes, I try to disassociate myself from my own opinions.


#49 Robert Rymarz

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 10:46 AM

No! Wait until spring. Get a room in the School House and book a table on the patio when you *know* it's going to be 70 degrees outside. Don't do it now.


Sounds good and no doubt the most practical idea. Can't handle these quick road trips any longer. Even our server "Sara, maybe?" at Little Serow asked if we been and said its not to be missed.

#50 lggl

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 04:41 PM

Definitely do it now! Both of the upstairs school house rooms have fireplaces!





Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Paris, Inn, Modern American, Built in 1829, Wines, Farm to Table, Local and Seasonal, Bed and Breakfast, Separate 4-Room Inn for Let, Patio

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