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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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#51 DonRocks

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 04:50 PM

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.

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.

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.

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


lggl's post is pretty much The Definitive Closing Argument.

Do it now. The patio takes it from "perfect" to "Perfect," but I waited until I had a meal indoors, by myself, to raise it to Bold.

I have spent a disproportionate amount of time thinking about our Sunday brunch, and I wrote this to Tarver on Facebook last night:

"Okay, what do I need to do in order to replicate that steak and eggs dish, exactly? Next time, I'm going to hike ten miles before coming so I'm starving; today, you absolutely took me out, quantity-wise. But I've got to have that exact same dish again before I die, preferably sooner rather than later. THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOU we both agreed it was the best steak dish we've ever had. We also agreed the parfait was the best broccoli dish we've ever had. Seriously, is it possible to make arrangements in advance to come back in and have that calotte?"


I haven't heard back from him, but I told Neal on the way out that I'd be back for dinner within a couple of weeks and I meant it. The Steak and Eggs was one of the singularly great dishes of my life - the "critic" in me can nitpick it for being on the "saucy" side. But you know what? The critic in me can blow me.

Nothing can make me forget my son's face during this meal, looking out into the mountains, the sun embellishing his fair-cast, winterized, red-headed skin with a barely discernible tone of light pink over the course of the two-hour brunch. I've only written one great thing in my life, and it is Meeting Chris Bianco (*) - if you remember me for one thing only, remember me for this.

(*) I have always regretted using the word "gap" instead of "pause." I struggled with this decision for many hours. If this is ever reproduced in the future, you have my blessing to use either word, the first painting a picture of the mountains; the second reflecting the ravages of ovarian cancer.

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#52 DanCole42

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 01:05 PM



Is that the cashew and bacon brittle in the first photo in the lower right? Every time we go, sharing it tests the strength of our marriage.
-Dan

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#53 DonRocks

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 07:24 PM

Is that the cashew and bacon brittle in the first photo in the lower right? Every time we go, sharing it tests the strength of our marriage.


Yes, and it was dangerously tasty. We couldn't figure out what the "bacon" part was; I was thinking it was smoked dates.

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#54 Rieux

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 10:01 PM

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).


Taking this as inspiration for a one night trip Dec 7th to celebrate our wedding (which is the weekend before - this is the immediate honeymoon). Also going to try the tasting menu with wine pairings. Looking forward to it! I would never have thought of it without this board!

#55 DonRocks

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 08:41 PM

Taking this as inspiration for a one night trip Dec 7th to celebrate our wedding (which is the weekend before - this is the immediate honeymoon). Also going to try the tasting menu with wine pairings. Looking forward to it! I would never have thought of it without this board!


You'll always remember this.

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#56 Rieux

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 10:37 AM

Went last week. Glascock room was lovely to just sit in front of the fire and read. Really great, although the paint and bathrooms are showing some wear.

Dinner at the inn was very good, but not perhaps among the best of my life. Maybe my expectations were too high. We did the tasting menu with pairings. The wines were all excellent, especially an Italian white we had first (name escapes me).

The food was good. The bacon brittle was excellent, as were the date arancini. We also especially enjoyed a skate dish and the beef on a hot rock. A few others, to me, were a little bland, but I had a cold and maybe my taste buds were a bit affected. The cheese course was a disappointment, a really bland cheese that seemed to be a wasted course. Dessert, which had liquid nitrogen, was a high point.

#57 lggl

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 05:07 PM

FYI - see below from the website. We went to the Linden dinner last year and it was PHENOMENAL! Watching and listening to Neal and Jim work together is tremendous fun. And, of course, Tarver King's cooking goes without saying. I highly recommend this evening. (It appears from the website that the Inn is closed until Jan 10th)

Linden Vineyards

April 3 & 4

Two nights are available for guests to partake in the most popular event at The Ashby Inn. Jim Law will be in attendance to share insights and wines from a variety of vintages, showcasing some of the best that Virginia has to offer. Spaces are limited, make reservations soon. The multicourse menu with wines is offered for $119 per person plus service and tax.


#58 Rovers2000

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Posted 12 May 2013 - 06:49 AM

Had a gluttonous lunch at the Ashby Inn with my wife and two good friends yesterday.

 

I won't go into the wine as I touched on that in the VA wine thread (we did also have an excellent Italian half bottle and a great Chilean wine) but Neal was really tremendous to talk to.

 

In terms of the food we had:

 

Pretzel Gougeres (we ordered multiple orders of these) - great pretzels with melted fontina.  I literally could've eaten an entire bag of these.

 

Spring Vegetables, Mustard, Horseradish - to me the only miss of the day.  These were excellent local veggies, but I was envious of my companions dishes

Razor Clam Ceviche

Scallops with Potato Crisp

Asparagus Soup

 

Burger, rye toast, saurkraut, Salted potatoes

BBQ Pork Loin, Fried Egg, Fries - this was unreal.  About as delicious as a sandwich as I've ever had.  The egg worked well with the slightly smokey pork loin and the fries were extremely crisp hand cut

Grilled Hen

 

Bacon Sundae - I know bacon may be "trite" but this was excellent with the bacon adding a nice salty note in conjunction with some cashews and dried marshmellow.

 

I really look forward to going back to the Inn and staying...this really is a gem and if you're looking to spend time out at any of the excellent vineyards in this part of VA, I would echo all of the sentiments above and say make the Ashby Inn part of your day.  


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Dave

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#59 NolaCaine

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Posted 14 May 2013 - 12:18 PM

I"d like to add to this conversation.  My husband and I have been dining at AB since we were dating...I met my future in-laws there one Easter.  Since we have gone dirty, dressed up, wet, and hauling a baby, and toddler.  They always great us with great joy. I think it's really nice how welcoming they are to use when we come post-hike, no reservations on the weekend and even with a toddler. I think someone who owns or works there has a little girl my son's age (or close) so perhaps they are used to amusing the young.

 

And also the food is fabulous.  Always.


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#60 Banco

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 09:51 AM

I"d like to add to this conversation.  My husband and I have been dining at AB since we were dating...I met my future in-laws there one Easter.  Since we have gone dirty, dressed up, wet, and hauling a baby, and toddler.  They always great us with great joy. I think it's really nice how welcoming they are to use when we come post-hike, no reservations on the weekend and even with a toddler. I think someone who owns or works there has a little girl my son's age (or close) so perhaps they are used to amusing the young.

 

And also the food is fabulous.  Always.

 

This is good to hear. I've never been but I have reservations for us and my parents (visiting from Wash. state) next weekend and am really looking forward to it based on what I've read here on DR.



#61 LauraB

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Posted 12 July 2013 - 07:40 PM

My husband and I adore the Ashby Inn.  Over the last few years we have been for dinner and an overnight stay 4 times, most recently last night, to celebrate my birthday.  We have also driven out there on Sundays for brunch on multiple occasions.  If we lived nearby, we'd be weekly visitors.  I just can't say enough about the talents of both Tarver King, the chef, and Neal Wavra, the GM and Sommelier. 

 

The Ashby Inn is also the site of possibly the best dish I've ever eaten in my life, and that's saying something.  It was a couple of years ago, during brunch.  It was a Copper River Salmon crudo -- the rest of the preparation has escaped my memory.  If I were ever facing execution, as my last meal, I'd request this and possibly the Squash Blossom dish we were served last night (more on that below). 

 

We always stay in the Glascock Room in the School House, a short walk up the road from the main Inn.  The GR is on the top floor with a large covered porch overlooking the gardens of the Inn and the rolling countryside beyond.  It's a very bucolic view.  The room itself it quite large, with a fireplace, King-size bed, and comfortable chairs and surroundings.  They also offer a complimentary decanter with 2 servings of locally-made Port, which is, while not the best Port I've ever had, quite nice.  Last night, after dinner, we sat on the porch and were absolutely enchanted by the fireflies. 

 

Dinner last night was, as always, superb.  The highlight, however, was the starter, a grilled squash blossom filled with blue crab and accented with lime, peanut sauce, coconut, and chili.  This Thai-flavored dish was just exquisite -- the flavors were perfectly balanced, none dominating, yet all making themselves known and the crab was luscious.  The wine pairing was a 2011 Doenhoff Kabinett Riesling that was perfect. 

 

Breakfast at the Ashby is always a delight and this morning's was no exception.  The coffee is from the Black Dog in West Virginia and it's very good.  While we were in the breakfast room, we spotted a staffer walking down the path next to the room carrying a large tray filled with the most beautiful squash blossoms you've ever seen, cut just that morning from the Ashby's large garden.  All of us in the dining room, all of whom had had the blossoms for a starter the night before, were gawking out the window and exclaiming our excitement, almost as if the Queen's jewels were passing by. 

 

After breakfast we returned to our room to spend a few hours reading while it rained, before enjoying lunch at the Ashby.  To our great delight, the squash blossom preparation was again featured and both of us ordered it and it was almost as good as last night, with the exception that the peanut sauce dominated a tad too much.  If we hadn't had it last night, we probably wouldn't have even noticed.  For entrees, I had the Grilled Wahoo with pasta porridge, smoked onion jam, speck ham, pecorino and arugula.  What a lovely dish!  The wahoo was cooked perfectly and quite moist.  The pasta porridge reminded me of a German spaetzle, only more refined and lighter.  The speck ham was very thinly sliced and delicious, and not salty.  My husband ordered the Snapping Turtle Ragout with buttered polenta, cippolini onion confit and sorrel.  He enjoyed it a lot, although it was a bit saltier than he would like. 

 

If you love squash blossoms, get thee to the Ashby Inn while they're still available. If you love sorrel, they apparently have an abundant amount in the garden: last night's dessert menu featured a sorrel ice cream which my husband ordered and quite liked.  This morning's breakfast featured sorrel pancakes.  And, if you just love great food and a very welcoming, relaxing ambiance, go there anytime!


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#62 darkstar965

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Posted 13 July 2013 - 12:47 AM

My husband and I adore the Ashby Inn.  Over the last few years we have been for dinner and an overnight stay 4 times, most recently last night, to celebrate my birthday.  We have also driven out there on Sundays for brunch on multiple occasions.  If we lived nearby, we'd be weekly visitors.  I just can't say enough about the talents of both Tarver King, the chef, and Neal Wavra, the GM and Sommelier. 

 

...

 

We always stay in the Glascock Room in the School House, a short walk up the road from the main Inn. 

 

...

 

We went for the first time several months ago thanks to this board.  I wrote maybe half the post I intended to share here but then didn't get around to finishing it.  We really enjoyed it and totally agree on the Glascock Room; we stayed there also!



#63 Rieux

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Posted 13 July 2013 - 07:14 AM

So many DR members have stayed in the Glascock room (us too!). Funny to think most of us have never met, but we've all shared a bed!
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#64 Bart

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Posted 09 August 2013 - 02:11 PM

My wife and I went to Ashby Inn on Wednesday, 364 days since our last visit.  We got the chef's tasting menu again and once again it was wonderful.  The thing that struck me was that even though we were there at the exact same time of year, the menu was entirely different except for one dish (small pieces of steak that you cook at the table on a very hot rock).  (See this post for the last visit  http://www.donrockwe...y-inn/?p=212830)

 

The other thing that struck me was how different the menu that we had on August 7th was from the one that is still posted on their website (dated July 27th).  There was only one dish that was the same on both menus (as far as I can remember).  And the "cook your meat on a molten rock" dish that I mentioned above wasn't on either menu!

 

I guess my point is that the menus change significantly from year to year (within the same season) as well as from week to week, and all of the dishes are masterpieces.

 

The third thing that struck me was how crowded it was for a Wednesday in August.  Last year there were a total of 3 couples in the place; us, a couple that was there when we sat down, and another that came in midway through our meal.  This year, the porch area in the back was more than half full during our meal with 8-10 tables occupied including a group of 6 and a group of 4.

 

And for you VA wine fans out there, they have an RdV wine on their menu that you can't buy at RdV or anywhere else(?)  [Edit - after a bit of research, I determined you can only buy it online via the RdV site].  It's called Exsurgo andi t's a special wine they made with a set of dog tags on the bottle.  All the proceeds go to some group that helps former military members and their families.

 

Sitting on the back porch on a mild summer evening looking over the gardens at out at the hills and eating and drinking wonderful food and wine is just about as good as it gets.  The rain we had that night only made the dinner and the setting somehow more enjoyable and the capper was listening to a Screech Owl calling off in the distance as we had dessert. 

 

If you're looking for a special place or a special night out, go to the Ashby Inn when you can sit outside and enjoy the evening coming on, it's sublime.


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#65 LauraB

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Posted 10 August 2013 - 06:25 PM

This photo was on The Ashby Inn's facebook page today.  Sweet corn macarons!  And look at their gardens in the background.  Almost heaven.

 

998935_10151690563704504_1367374304_n.jp


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#66 jpbloom

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Posted 11 August 2013 - 02:34 PM

I don't know when this was announced but am wondering whether it should change our plans.  My wife and I were planning dinner and an overnight stay in October for our anniversary.  Should we move this up?

 

Dear Valued Guests, I write to you today with mixed emotion as I wish to inform you that Chef Tarver King will be leaving The Ashby Inn in September. I am of course saddened as we all are to see such a cherished and talented friend leave home. Yet, I find myself soothed by the thought that he will not be far away and will continue to bestow this bountiful region with his creative interpretation of what the fantastic farmers of our area produce. Indeed, as Tarver departs and a new chef assumes the helm at The Ashby, the dining options in our region only increase. I have begun the search for a new chef. Rest assured that whoever accepts the position will not be the same as Chef King—he is one of a kind. However, what will remain a constant is the commitment to quality, locally sourced food prepared with care. I will keep you apprised of our decision and will look to you to help us as we transition. Many of you have offered your support, input and feedback over the years. I hope you will continue to do so going forward. For now, I invite you to join us to celebrate Tarver’s last weeks and days at The Ashby.

 
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#67 DonRocks

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Posted 11 August 2013 - 02:49 PM

I don't know when this was announced but am wondering whether it should change our plans.  My wife and I were planning dinner and an overnight stay in October for our anniversary.  Should we move this up?

 

Yes.

 

That said, do not underestimate Neal Wavra (who is responsible for their excellent wine program), and don't forget: The Ashby Inn itself will be as beautiful as ever.

 

And in case you're wondering, Tarver will be going to The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm in Lovettsville (you heard it hear first). 


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#68 LauraB

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Posted 11 August 2013 - 03:09 PM

This is exactly what I've been fearing ever since my first experience there with Tarver's cuisine. His cooking is truly extraordinary and it elevated the dining experience at the Ashby Inn to one of the very best in the DC area, if not the Mid-Atlantic. It is great to hear that he will be staying in the area. He will be leaving in mid-September. I've already booked our last Tarver dinner experience there for late August. I hope I'll be able to taste the food through the tears.

I'm wishing The Ashby all the best in their search for his replacement. Huge shoes to fill. 



#69 tarver king

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Posted 11 August 2013 - 03:10 PM

It was not an easy decision to leave the Ashby inn. The past four years will always be a truly fond memory for me. Neal has been a true friend and valued partner to the efforts of us all. The people I've met have become for than just friends.

 

This move is to better my ability to focus on the cuisine, and have more time with my family who miss me.

 

I'm not going far! ;)

 

This was not an easy decision, and by FAR the most difficult departure I've made.


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#70 DanCole42

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Posted 11 August 2013 - 07:14 PM

This is the first time in a long time that I've seen something on the Internet that's actually caused me to pause and stare with mouth agape (and I've seen some crazy shit on the Internet - including a cat playing the piano and a woman passing an octopus).

 

It's also the first time in a long time that I've actually posted here (work's been nuts).

 

Tarver will certainly be missed. Jordana and I made reservations for lunch this coming Saturday within five minutes of hearing the news. After September we plan to continue enjoying the Wavra's generous hospitality and gorgeous location. We'll also be making the trip to Patowmack as soon as Tarver gets settled. To quote Don, "the western Virginia suburbs have just staked a claim to being one of the finest dining areas in the United States."


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#71 Joe H

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Posted 11 August 2013 - 08:57 PM

Simply, one of the most beautiful destinations in America with both wine and food to justify a journey.  The Ashby Inn, Patowmack Farm and Salamander are all winners as are the wineries, the shops and the towns.  The growth of Virginia wine country has been explosive in the past half dozen years.  Yet it's only starting.  Salamander will bring visitors who will explore, sip and taste all.

 

And many will prefer spending the night in Paris. 

 

Virginia.


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#72 lggl

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Posted 11 August 2013 - 08:57 PM

It is quite ironic that I am reading this as we are enjoying a Michael Shaps Meritage that we learned about and purchased based on recommendation by our amazing waiter Kevin during our last visit to the Ashby.  It is no secret based on my entries above that we immensely enjoyed the talents of Tarver King.  But that is not the only thing that drew us to return multiple times over the last few years to the Ashby.  (And to only stay in the Glasscock room every time just like the other DR members - that's kind of funny.)  To us, the Ashby was not just the meal that Tarver prepared.  We enjoy and appreciate the Inn because of the hospitality of the Wavra's, the phenomenal staff, and the wonderful setting and top notch accomodations.  While I am disappointed by the news that Tarver is leaving, I will not hesitate to return and look forward to my next visit to the Ashby.    



#73 lion

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Posted 12 August 2013 - 02:02 AM

Chef King at the Ashby Inn created an incredible experience in our backyard that we enjoyed on our visits. Looking forward to him at Patowmack. 

 

How about these guys for Ashby? 



#74 DonRocks

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Posted 12 August 2013 - 02:27 AM

Chef King at the Ashby Inn created an incredible experience in our backyard that we enjoyed on our visits. Looking forward to him at Patowmack. 

 

How about these guys for Ashby? 

 

From your lips, to God's ears.


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#75 darkstar965

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Posted 12 August 2013 - 12:07 PM

From your lips, to God's ears.

 

That pairing (Ashby and the Shields) would be pretty magical but maybe not likely?  Perhaps Don will be able to break another milestone story when either the inn or the chefs figure out their next steps but this is what the Shield's website says as of 7 months ago:

 

They relocated to the Philadelphia area in the spring of 2012 and are currently pursuing the development and opening of their own world-class restaurant in a Mid-Atlantic location.


#76 Joe H

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Posted 12 August 2013 - 12:33 PM

If the Ashby Inn attracted John Shields and Karen Urie Shields, with Tarver at Patowmack Farm along with Salamander and the national publicity it is receiving...wow!

 

I should note that Patowmack Farm has long been a special destination.  It is an enchanting setting where they grow and/or raise much of what they serve themselves.  I also remember when it was the most difficult reservation in the D. C. area with weekend reservations necessary several months in advance.

 

Those days may return.



#77 jpbloom

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Posted 12 August 2013 - 01:03 PM

All this talk about the Shields (Shieldses?) reminded me that we just missed them at Town House, having reservations for shortly after they left.  Not about to make the same mistake, we now have reservations for the Ashby Inn this Friday.



#78 LauraB

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Posted 12 August 2013 - 03:27 PM

Just learned that Tarver's last night at the Ashby Inn will be Friday, September 6th.



#79 Biotech

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Posted 13 August 2013 - 12:35 PM

Just booked our reservation for this Friday night. I'm surprised at how much availability there is on Open Table.


Chris Topoleski


#80 plarkins

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Posted 13 August 2013 - 02:23 PM

I had post-Honeymoon reservations (B&B & dinner) in December, so I just booked a dinner res for Sept 6. I also was surprised by the availability in Open Table. 



#81 DonRocks

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Posted 13 August 2013 - 02:25 PM


I had post-Honeymoon reservations (B&B & dinner) in December, so I just booked a dinner res for Sept 6. I also was surprised by the availability in Open Table. 

 

I also booked a table at Ashby Inn before Tarver leaves. However, I'm making my overnight plans for this autumn, when I can enjoy the fireplace and welcome the new chef - so, I'm going twice! :)

 

BTW, perhaps my #1 course in all of 2012 was a steak dish Tarver was featuring at Sunday brunch. It was ... unbelievable.


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#82 Joe H

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 08:10 AM

Dinner yesterday evening was superb for the four of us.  Chef is making a spectacular statement in his last few weeks!

 

For the several who are curious because seats are available I must note that there may have been 50-60 covers last night with half of these outside on the terrace.  Over the course of the evening there were only a couple of free seats anywhere.

 

The Ashby Inn should be THE destination restaurant in the greater D. C. area for the next several weeks.  AND, afterwards.  While John Shields may not be available there are many that have shown national interest in succeeding Tarver.

 

The Ashby Inn will do quite nicely.

 

FWIW Delaplane Cellars '10 Williams Gap Reserve ($60 or so) is drinking VERY nicely right now and Neal has ''10 Glen Manor Hodder Hill in half bottles (!).  Perhaps as many as 50 VA reds on the superb wine list.  For anyone visiting that might wonder about the current state of VA Red please take a look at the two above along with the '09 RDV Los Mountain ($140 or so). 

 

Three miles down the road is Delaplane Cellars which is breathtakingly beautiful right now (it is halfway up the side of Lost Mountain-Delaplane and RDV are the only two wineries on Lost Mountain) and close to selling out of all of their '10 reds.  If anyone is considering a visit I would not suggest waiting too long. 



#83 jpbloom

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Posted 19 August 2013 - 07:58 AM

We had a truly wonderful dinner at Ashby on Friday night, the first fine dining meal we've had in quite a while where every course was excellent.  While a very interesting wine list, all we got from it was a Chidaine sparkler because we had brought our own bottle (an '86 Pichon Baron that although okay was well past its prime - drink 'em if you got 'em).  Drinking a full bottle each is much easier when you just have to walk a short distance to your room.  Staying at the inn just capped off a wonderful evening.

 

There was just one issue, and it was minor.  We arrived later than planned because of work and traffic.  We were told changing our 7:00 reservation to 7:15 was not a problem.  At 7:20, though, we were told we would still have to wait a while for an outdoor table (on one of the few perfect nights of the summer).  We ate inside rather than waiting but really would have preferred the patio.

 

The inn itself was nice enough that I'm sure we'll be back regardless of the new chef but this meal definitely has put a schlep out to Patowmack Farm in my future.



#84 Biotech

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Posted 22 August 2013 - 06:48 AM

Absolutely amazing dinner last night. We snacked on the bacon and cashew brittle, a pickled green bean tempura dish with labne, and a carmelized onion parfait. I had the watermelon and rhubarb soup with pickled feta. Excellent cold soup with the sweetness of the watermelon countered by the salty goodness of feta. My wife skipped an appetizer and went with the beef loin which was very tender and had a real richness about the beef that was lacking in my lackluster lunch downtown earlier in the day. I had the roasted pork shoulder which had tortilla dumplings and oddly enough, was served on a bed of popcorn and roasted corn. For dessert we split a hazelnut dish which really rounded out the meal very nicely. I often skip desserts because they are such an afterthought at most restaurants - even high end ones. This did not disappoint. It was muggy, but cool so we opted to sit outside. It ended up being pretty windy as the storm rolled in, but it was actually quite calming to have the backdrop of the hills and pattering rain while we ate.

 

I'm glad we got there before the chef moves on to Patowmack. The only minor negative was that it took a bit of time to come greet us and get our drink orders, and then another longish lag between that and bringing the drinks/taking our order. After that, however, everything was paced nicely.


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#85 monavano

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Posted 22 August 2013 - 09:41 AM

What is the dress code or "norm" for men and women?



#86 Biotech

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Posted 22 August 2013 - 11:16 AM

What is the dress code or "norm" for men and women?

 

"smart casual." I took this to mean business casual. I was wearing dress shirt and khaki dress pants with a jacket. Jacket not necessary. Most others were wearing dress shirts or polos and khakis. Women were in dresses or skirts and blouses. I saw one guy in shorts, but he was the exception.


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#87 MC Horoscope

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Posted 22 August 2013 - 08:14 PM

thanks for the dress code posts. we will be there in early October and wondered.



#88 DonRocks

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 12:30 PM

I usually don't cut-and-paste press releases, but this one is important, and says all that's needed to say. Congratulations to Neal and Star Wavra, and welcome to chef David Dunlap!

 

ASHBY INN ANNOUNCES NEW CHEF, DAVID DUNLAP August 30, 2013 Paris, Virginia – David Dunlap will succeed The Ashby’s present Chef, Tarver King, when he vacates his post in early September. “Chef Dunlap cooks with a precision and purity that will ensure the proud culinary legacy at The Ashby will continue,” says General Manager of The Ashby, Neal Wavra. David brings a skill set and depth of experience earned in some of the most venerable kitchens in the world, including those of Patrick O’Connell and Alain Ducasse. Service at The Ashby Inn will continue uninterrupted through the transition and Chef Dunlap will debut his first menu on Thursday, September 12, 2013. The foundation for Dunlap’s passion for food was laid early in his upbringing. Born in Washington state near the Puget Sound, David recollects his fondest memories of childhood being days spent playing and harvesting in his family’s orchards, foraging for huckleberries, picking strawberries and blackberries and tending to bees. When he was six, his family relocated to Virginia. At age 14, he took his first job as a bus boy at the Springfield Golf and Country Club and he was hooked. David’s first cooking job was at a local farmer’s market in Boulder, Colorado. Knowing that he had found his niche, he enrolled at the California Culinary Academy to conduct his studies. Upon graduation, he worked under Executive Chef Jung at El Encanto hotel in Santa Barbara where learned to utilize fresh fruits and vegetables in season and an array of seafood brought to the hotel daily by local fishermen. With this sound beginning, Chef Dunlap accepted a position with the five star, five diamond Four Seasons property where he worked under Executive Chef Martin Frostwhile where he contributed to menu development and assisted with myriad wine maker dinners. The arrival of their second child (now a father of three) prompted David and his wife to move home to Virginia to be closer to family. Dunlap was able secure a chef de partie position with the opening crew for Alain Ducasse's Adour restaurant, and train under executive chef Julian Jouhannud and corporate chef Sylvain Portay. It was here, that David notes the finer points of his culinary approach were developed. With skills that were in demand, Chef Damon Gordon of Plume Restaurant at the Relais & Chateaux Jefferson Hotel recruited David to be his Sous Chef. This lead to another Relais and Chateau property to take notice. When the Inn at Little Washington asked him to join their team, Chef Dunlap was given an opportunity to use all of the skills he had gained to contribute to an operation lauded the world over. He rose quickly through the ranks and was made Sous Chef, then Executive Sous Chef. Working as he has at such a fine collection of restaurants with such talented cooks and chefs, David is eager to offer his vision on the bounty of our region. “While working for Chef O’Connell, I learned to discover the Virginia countryside through a Chef’s eyes,” remarked Dunlap of his time at the famous inn. This perspective is what will be on display as Chef Dunlap takes up residence behind the stoves of The Ashby Inn & Restaurant. He will be assisted by another considerable culinary talent as Sous Chef Sebastien Agez also joins the Ashby team. Sebastien Agez hails from the other better known Paris. Raised in the city of lights, Agez, trained in the culinary arts in a traditional apprenticeship program. He moved to the Washington, DC in 2004 and lent his French culinary talents to District restaurants Montmartre and Montsourris before accepting the head chef position at Café des Artistes in Manhattan. While in New York, Sebastien also ran the kitchen at the historic landmark spot created by Mark Twain, the Lotus Club and was later tapped to be the Executive Chef for Plein Sud, the restaurant in the Smyth Hotel in Tribeca. The Ashby Inn & Restaurant exists as a tenant to history while offering a place for guests to dine and rest amidst the beauty and tranquility of the Virginia countryside. Situated at the cross-section of routes fifty and seventeen in the charming village of Paris, the inn includes ten guest accommodations on three acres of landscaped grounds that provide a view of Paris Mountain, Ashby Gap and Sky Meadows State Park. The restaurant prepares breakfast daily for all inn guests and is open for lunch and dinner Wednesday through Saturday and for brunch and dinner on Sunday. The Ashby serves as a pastoral setting for weddings, special events, and retreats. Guests of the inn find no shortage of activities in the area to fill their time, including antiquing, bird watching, cycling, hiking, reading, shopping, and wine tasting.

 

For all inquires and reservations, guests may reach the Inn and Restaurant by calling 540-592-3900 or by visiting www.ashbyinn.com


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#89 Joe H

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 08:29 PM

Bravo!  BRAVO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



#90 lotus125

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Posted 22 January 2014 - 08:22 PM

Has anyone been since the new chef started?



#91 DonRocks

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Posted 22 January 2014 - 08:28 PM

Has anyone been since the new chef started?

 

I can’t remember where I heard this from, but I heard recently that it’s fantastic (maybe a Help Needed thread?)


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#92 Joe H

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Posted 22 January 2014 - 10:10 PM

We went a week or so after the new chef took over which is far too soon to report on.  He was just getting started and getting a feel for the Inn and its kitchen.  Having said this it was....

 

Excellent.

 

Still (!), one of the best restaurants in the state of Virginia.



#93 lotus125

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Posted 22 January 2014 - 10:37 PM

Thank you both.  I sadly discovered it just before Tarver King left.  I'll have to try it again under the new chef (and try Tarver's new place).  



#94 DonRocks

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Posted 22 January 2014 - 10:46 PM

Thank you both.  I sadly discovered it just before Tarver King left.  I'll have to try it again under the new chef (and try Tarver's new place).  

 

I see nothing sad about this. You had a great experience - now you have two new ones to enjoy.


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#95 plarkins

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 01:18 AM

I did the tasting menu w/o pairings on Chef Tarver's last night back in September and then had the tasting menu w/ pairings on Dec 20...so I've been negligent in posting a review. These were the only times my wife and I have been to the Inn and both were excellent experiences. There wasn't a significant difference in the dining experience other than going with the wine pairing the 2nd time around. A fairly seamless transition...at least after 3 months! I will say there were less molecular gastronomy/modern twists with Chef Dunlap. I thought Chef Tarver struct a good balance, but the December dinner was more traditional prep and plating, albeit with the same skillful execution. No more meat on a rock, cooked at your table at least that night. I've forgotten/lost the September menu but managed to hold on to the December menu. Its below with a few brief notes in plain text....

 

I) Snacks -> comtè gougère light as air.

II) Cream of chestnut soup, applewood smoked bacon, pickled cabbage, brioche crouton / Foggy Ridge Sweet Stayman NV -> loved the soup and was my favorite pairing of the night. The light, slightly sweet cider sliced right through the rich nutty soup, complementing and enhancing the flavors. 

III) Pickled beets, valencia oranges, beet foam, blue cheese beignet / Leitz, Riesling Trocken, Rheingau, Germany, 2012  -> we both enjoyed this but the details have faded with time

IV) Octopus carpaccio, sauce verte, chorizo vinaigrette, black olive Odysseus, Garnatxa Blanca, Priorat, Spain, 2011 -> not a octopus fan but the chorizo vinaigrette was all I tasted

V) Braised veal tortelloni, pumpkin, hazelnut, brussels sprouts, pickled red onion / Qupé, "Bien Nacido Hillside", Roussane, Santa Maria, CA, 2010 -> great dish with lots of rich flavors, textures, and the wine again sliced through the richness and made the dish dance. This was the most expensive wine of the pairing: $35 retail/$40 at the winery

VI) Seared pekin duck breast, date purée, ginger, blood orange, quince / Grochau Cellars, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, OR, 2012 -> our fav dish of the night. the sauce was lick-your-plate-in-public good. The side items combined to make a tangy sauce that was so good with the duck. When I daydream about the past year's meals, this dish and Rose's lychee salad are at the top.

VII) Triple chocolate mousse cake, over the grass farm honey ice cream Taylor Fladgate, Late Bottled Vintage, Porto, 2005 -> my wife loved it. i'm not a chocolate mousse fan, but the ice cream was good. Mostly still thinking about the duck.

VIII) Mignardises -> A fancy s'more: chocolate truffle on top of a toasted marshmellow with crumbs of presumably graham cracker? Memory is fading, but looks about right according to the photo...only one I took during the meal.

 

Everything was on the main menu except the tortelloni, duck, and the s'mores. Only one local wine/cider in the pairings, thought there would have been more. Though the complimentary port in the room was from Vint Hill. Tasting menu $99 + $60 wine pairings = $159pp before tax/tip. Strictly a special occasion destination for us, but will continue to highly recommend the Inn to friends for weekend getaways.

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#96 lindzjax

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 11:24 AM

Very happy to see this post today. We're headed out for little pre-baby pampering at the Salamander Resort in Middleburg this weekend and are eating Saturday night at Ashby while we are out there. So looking forward to it! Will post thoughts next week.



#97 goldenticket

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 12:03 PM

I can’t remember where I heard this from, but I heard recently that it’s fantastic (maybe a Help Needed thread?)

 

You heard it here.

Have a great time lindzjax! You won't be disappointed.


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#98 lotus125

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 11:18 PM

I recently had dinner at Ashby -- my first time back since Tarver King left.  Before I describe the meal, an important caveat: I was there on Valentines Day.  I know that Valentines can be tough on a kitchen, and I've had some really disappointing meals on VDay (which this was not).  So I take my own experience with a grain of a salt. Specifically with regard to Valentines Day, two quick comments -- one praise, one criticism.  The praise is that they did not price gouge.  The menu was shorter than the normal tasting, but also *less* expensive.  Kudos to them.  The small criticism is that I wish I'd known in advance that there would be a special VDay menu.  I booked about a month out and was not told of this plan (the website listed a "holiday" menu left over from Christmas).

 

Onto the meal: My brief summary (with the Valentines caveat) is that the food was good but not quite as good as my last meal, when the prior chef was there.  As always, the room was lovely and the service good.  In particular, Neal was great about our bringing wine.  We started with a carrot soup with a dollop of cumin foam in the center (substituted for a meatier soup).  The soup itself was great.  The cumin foam added a good flavor, but I think would have been better as a drizzle across the soup.  On its own, the foam was just cumin-y, so it only worked when stirred around.  (And it was also slightly over whipped).  Next was pickled beet salad, horseradish-beet espuma, blood orange, juniper crumble.  Very good.  Unfortunately the entrees were weaker.  I had seared salmon, granny smith apple, celeriac, walnuts, dill-buttermilk vinaigrette -- a play on salmon with waldorf salad.  The salmon itself was not terrific, and the salad was bland.  My date initially ordered a vegetarian sunchoke dish, but apparently they were burnt, and our server came over to apologize and offer another vegetarian option.  (They also took $40 off the check which was extremely nice).  The replacement was potatoes and mushrooms (I think chanterelles) over an arugula or watercress sauce.  Sauce was nice, but the dish was otherwise flat.  They served carrots and parsnips on the side that were rather bland and unremarkable.  One dessert was blue cheesecake, beet foam, rosemary shortbread.  I loved the use of blue cheese and other savory flavors. The texture was a bit off.  The other was apple, fuji financier cake, some kind of sorbet (not the cheddar ice cream on the online menu) and apple brandy foam.  This was very good.

 

As I sad, an enjoyable meal but not the same level as our last one.  Especially because it was Valentines Day, however, I'm looking forward to going back. 


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#99 lggl

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Posted 19 February 2014 - 01:02 PM

There is a Michael Shaps wine dinner at the Ashby on Thursday, March 6th.  If we weren't going out of town, I would be all over that.  Sounds wonderful. 



#100 NolaCaine

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 11:36 AM

"smart casual." I took this to mean business casual. I was wearing dress shirt and khaki dress pants with a jacket. Jacket not necessary. Most others were wearing dress shirts or polos and khakis. Women were in dresses or skirts and blouses. I saw one guy in shorts, but he was the exception.

 

I wanted to add something to the question: What's the dress code.

 

Sky meadows state park is very close to Ashby.  Many, many times my husband, toddler, and in-laws have dined after a hike at Ashby.  We often go on the early side of lunch on the weekends, or the late.  We have always been graciously served in our hiking clothes. Now, we might get turned away for dinner, but I wanted to share that the hike/ashby lunch is one of my very favorite things.  







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