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The Inn At Little Washington - With 2001 National James Beard Award Winner Patrick O'Connell

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In what ways is the Inn "over the top" in a way in which it should be reveled?
The interior decorating comes to mind. The food, maybe not so much anymore, but certainly 15 years ago.

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I think we all agree that part of what pulls extraordinary service away from the merely good is the ability to read the table. It's what I found particularly good about the service at Charlie Trotter's. Our server rapidly and accurately assessed our mood and what we wanted from the service that evening. She provided (what appeared to be) good service to the table next to ours, yet their needs definitely appeared different (e.g. more formal, less chatty). I certainly wasn't a regular at Trotters, so I think this *can* be accomplished at a restaurant where one is not a regular.

The service at Tony's (the restaurant in STL to which I alluded earlier) is very different. As noted by eating out, they don't match your mood at all--they're always very formal. But, it's quite professional and clearly better than what lackadasai, and others, described at the Inn.

Maybe this is splitting hairs, or maybe it's a matter of you say tomayto I say tomahto, but I don't think the service gaffes described here are a result of one size fits all service. At the prices they charge, one size fits all needs to be at a far higher level then what they're offering and I think that is not too high a bar to set.

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Aha. I missed the original news of the final O'Connell/Lynch split entirely. The September Post article appears to soft-peddle the forced sale aspect of the breakup; the Rappahannock Times was far less equivocal about O'Connell's desire to see the Inn sold as a going concern.

To wit:

According to court documents, O'Connell is asking that he be "appointed custodian to operate the business of the partnership in the ordinary course until a full hearing on dissolution can be held, that he be appointed receiver at such hearing, and that the court set a date for a bulk sale by the receiver of the assets of the partnership (as a going concern) at public auction."

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Some of our good friends have given us a VERY generous gift certificate to the Inn as a wedding gift. I understand from this thread that perhaps upscaling the dining experience is not worth the corresponding increase in cost, so we will likely have a "regular" meal there. However, does anyone have any insight into

a. What time of year is the best time to be out there? Our January is booked (our 5-year anniversary -- Eve, here we come!), but the rest of the year is open :lol:

b. Any room preferences?

c. Anything else we should take advantage of?

Although perhaps this would not have been our number 1 choice, we have both been interested in trying out the Inn for quite some time, and it was a wonderful surprise to receive this gift! We want to be sure to make the most of it and to be able to leave with smiles on our faces, thinking how nice it will be to share our wonderful experiences with our generous friends (i.e., not having to come up with various ways to thank them while withholding the truth...).

Thanks in advance for any help.

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c. Anything else we should take advantage of?

We loved the afternoon tea and the continental breakfast - tons of lemon curd and jams throughout. And, great service at both. The "free" breakfast is certainly a sufficient amount of food. Also, the gift shop across the street has a lot of interesting knick knacks that are actually priced quite reasonably - we bought tons of stocking stuffers there (helps that they give a nice credit to those staying at the Inn).

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b. Any room preferences?
If staying overnight, try to book "Junior Suite #2" which is in the main building. Some of the rooms in the large number of separate properties owned by the inn are nice, but I would describe them as 'upscale Grandma' -- lots of floral, chintz & doilies. The Jr Suite #2 is very luxurious but not too over-the-top.

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ready for an update for The Inn @ L.W. again.. looks to be a few months and no new news. seems that so far it has all been rather negative and dull. both times i went to The Inn, the experiences were great. More about your evening, and hw you are involved in it, and the company. Why do you have to ineract with the server, unless that is needed, or something you are into. making friends, or paying for them? every time i have been to an exaggeratedly priced restaurant, be it Trotter', Alinea, TRU, PEr Se, Laundry, White Barn, etc... i always take the tastng menu, but pick my own wines... pairings are fun, but are more than always built around a price cap in mind (of the establishment) and there to make money.. always more value doing half bottles, fill in glasses, and bottles. to really explore what, and why these places are GRAND AWARD winners, and have lists that are 60+pages long... there are always hidden gems. ask, and use the sommelier, voice your opinion, and voice your desires instantly. the only time that the wine pairing was worth while , was at Charlie Trotters, where they poured my favorite champagne to start (Billiot), and one of the best aussie's ever (Henschke Hill of Grace 94)... the staff is one of the most informed and educated, and attentive, only problem of the night (NO MUSIC WAS GOING ALL NIGHT).. the inn,, great old burgundys bought when they were cheap, though aggreed that the staffcan sometimes be a little rehearsed, but that is all in good training, and informed natures,, they should and can break script and wow you in the end.. try again,, ask for the wine directors little secrets

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ready for an update for The Inn @ L.W. again.. looks to be a few months and no new news. seems that so far it has all been rather negative and dull. both times i went to The Inn, the experiences were great. More about your evening, and hw you are involved in it, and the company. Why do you have to ineract with the server, unless that is needed, or something you are into. making friends, or paying for them? every time i have been to an exaggeratedly priced restaurant, be it Trotter', Alinea, TRU, PEr Se, Laundry, White Barn, etc... i always take the tastng menu, but pick my own wines... pairings are fun, but are more than always built around a price cap in mind (of the establishment) and there to make money.. always more value doing half bottles, fill in glasses, and bottles. to really explore what, and why these places are GRAND AWARD winners, and have lists that are 60+pages long... there are always hidden gems. ask, and use the sommelier, voice your opinion, and voice your desires instantly. the only time that the wine pairing was worth while , was at Charlie Trotters, where they poured my favorite champagne to start (Billiot), and one of the best aussie's ever (Henschke Hill of Grace 94)... the staff is one of the most informed and educated, and attentive, only problem of the night (NO MUSIC WAS GOING ALL NIGHT).. the inn,, great old burgundys bought when they were cheap, though aggreed that the staffcan sometimes be a little rehearsed, but that is all in good training, and informed natures,, they should and can break script and wow you in the end.. try again,, ask for the wine directors little secrets

I think my head just exploded.

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ready for an update for The Inn @ L.W. again.. looks to be a few months and no new news. seems that so far it has all been rather negative and dull. both times i went to The Inn, the experiences were great. More about your evening, and hw you are involved in it, and the company. Why do you have to ineract with the server, unless that is needed, or something you are into. making friends, or paying for them? every time i have been to an exaggeratedly priced restaurant, be it Trotter', Alinea, TRU, PEr Se, Laundry, White Barn, etc... i always take the tastng menu, but pick my own wines... pairings are fun, but are more than always built around a price cap in mind (of the establishment) and there to make money.. always more value doing half bottles, fill in glasses, and bottles. to really explore what, and why these places are GRAND AWARD winners, and have lists that are 60+pages long... there are always hidden gems. ask, and use the sommelier, voice your opinion, and voice your desires instantly. the only time that the wine pairing was worth while , was at Charlie Trotters, where they poured my favorite champagne to start (Billiot), and one of the best aussie's ever (Henschke Hill of Grace 94)... the staff is one of the most informed and educated, and attentive, only problem of the night (NO MUSIC WAS GOING ALL NIGHT).. the inn,, great old burgundys bought when they were cheap, though aggreed that the staffcan sometimes be a little rehearsed, but that is all in good training, and informed natures,, they should and can break script and wow you in the end.. try again,, ask for the wine directors little secrets
What exactly are you asking? Please, in as simple english as you can, I am not a smart man...

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What exactly are you asking? Please, in as simple english as you can, I am not a smart man...

EXACTLY::

Looking for an update of how things are going at The Inn, and story of a recent experience. Simple enough.

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We just returned from a weekend trip at the Inn at Little Washington. I'll post my thoughts here, and Tripewriter will post his own impressions, as we differed in a couple of ways. Our first impression was made by the Sysco truck pulling out from the Inn...sigh. The second impression was, um...was that the Inn? Drive past and turn around. I think that's the Inn...isn't it? Do you see a sign? Drive past and turn around. It's the only place with a bunch of people in uniforms standing out front...it must be the Inn. Drive past and turn around. We finally made it there, but I would have appreciated better signage than their lovely, understated, ivy-covered obelisk stating simply "The Inn." Anyway, upon arrival, we were swarmed. Perhaps it's because they watched us drive past so many times ;) After being stripped of everything but the essentials, on which I had a tight grip, we made it to the front desk and checked in. We started a tour and then got side-tracked by the free welcome cocktail :) Our room -- Room 7 -- was just lovely. Very high ceilings, comfortable bed, nice amount of space, three doors between the bedroom and the bathroom, and a balcony (big enough to sit and eat on) overlooking the relaxing yet vibrant courtyard. I haven't slept as well as I slept in that room in a long, long time. We had tea on the balcony before taking a nap before dinner (hey, best to be prepared, right? :)). Our reservations were at 8:30, but they let us know that they could accommodate us at any time. We had a drink in the lounge space before being seated at a table that was, coincidentally, right under our own balcony. We started with an apple-rutabega soup amuse, followed by four spoons -- a shrimp something, pear wrapped in prosciutto, beet-cranberry mousse, and I'm blanking on the fourth one. I started that meal with the crabcakes, followed by the scallop, and for my main, I had the rabbit. The crabcakes were more like deep-fried quinelles of crab mousse, which I think I would have liked if the flavor of the filling hadn't been completely overwhelmed by the taste of the coating. The sauces were fine, with only the traditional tartar sauce really exciting me. The scallop was lovely. Seared with a coating of truffle, plated on a cauliflower puree with a truffle (I believe) jus. Very nice. My rabbit was, unfortunately, tasteless :blink: For dessert, Tripewriter and I chose to split the 7 Deadly Sins -- a collection of desserts -- while he had a Glenmorangie madeira finish. Tasty, but nothing left me with a lasting memory. A lovely surprise was Michelle, the sommelier. She was charming and professional and brought us some wines that we knew and all wines that were delicious. All in all, however, the meal was, for me, ok. I wasn't at all convinced that we should return for a second attempt.

For breakfast the next morning, we just had the house breakfast, but served to our room. We had a selection of breads, a yogurt parfait, and tea or coffee. It was a nice way to start the day if nothing spectacular. We noted during afternoon tea that the foods were superior to those we had the previous day, and I started to look forward to that night's dinner.

That anticipation was richly rewarded! We had a duck consomme, which didn't really do it for me, and the same amuse bouche spoons, which were fine. I started with the lamb carpaccio and the scallop again, followed by the artichoke capelletti. The lamb was good, good, GOOD. Michelle really outdid herself with the wine pairing, and I was very happy :) The scallop, surprisingly, was good but not as great as the night before, but definitely not a disappointment. I had a different wine with it the second night than I did the first, and it was fascinating to see the new flavors in the dish that the new wine brought out. It was a pleasure. The pasta was fabulous. Michelle paired it with two wines -- a white and a red (sorry, the info is still in my suitcase) -- and savored every bite and every sip. We passed on dessert to order cheese from Faina, the cow -- my first time trying Constant Bliss, which certainly was, and Montgomery cheddar, which was the happiest cheddar I've ever had. Yum. We ended up getting dessert sent to our room about midnight. The kitchen baked us fresh salty oatmeal cookies and chocolate chip cookies, and although the promised glass of milk was missing, there were enough of them -- and they were huge! -- that we have continued to savor them at home today :)

The final dining experience we had, after another lovely night's sleep, was breakfast this morning. I had the dill-salmon scrambled eggs with a potato rosti. Delicious and very rich. The "extra" eggs came in their own little saucepan, which I thought was a nice touch :)

We had a couple of complaints including smaller ones, like some snafus on the bill, which I'd recommend checking carefully, and larger ones, like the fact that the Inn allows smoking in the courtyard...directly under our balcony and window, so for much of Saturday afternoon, we had to keep the doors shut to keep the smell out :P But we also had a really relaxing, enjoyable weekend -- we're thinking this may become an annual birthday pilgrimage :)

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We just returned from a weekend trip at the Inn at Little Washington. . Michelle really outdid herself with the wine pairing, and I was very happy :P

Who will be the new face to take the place of the great Sabato, and his assistant Michelle? Guess it is the time of the year to be on the move? :blink:

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Who will be the new face to take the place of the great Sabato, and his assistant Michelle? Guess it is the time of the year to be on the move? :blink:
By the way Michelle is going run the new Iron Bridge location in Warrenton.

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The following text message showed up on my cell phone at 10:06 PM this evening. Here it is, exactly as it arrived:

"Rumor that partick o connell is openining up in the hotel washington (whicH is being gutted and renovated by starwood) hav u heard this?"

Answer: No, I haven't, but it's a great little piece of gossip!

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The following text message showed up on my cell phone at 10:06 PM this evening. Here it is, exactly as it arrived:

"Rumor that partick o connell is openining up in the hotel washington (whicH is being gutted and renovated by starwood) hav u heard this?"

Answer: No, I haven't, but it's a great little piece of gossip!

My gut response is "Yeah, when pigs fly".

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My gut response is "Yeah, when pigs fly".

My response to your response: What is there left for him to do in Washington, VA? A regional contract with Sunrise Senior Living? Maybe, but it's long overdue for him to capitalize on his national recognition, and O'Connell is certainly well-qualified to cash in big. I'm not saying there's any truth to this rumor at all, but aside from that, how long can he possibly hold out? And given all the other big-name chefs cashing in on their fame (refer to, um, you-know-who), why on earth shoudn't he?

Cheers,

Rocks.

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My response to your response: What is there left for him to do in Washington, VA? A regional contract with Sunrise Senior Living? Maybe, but it's long overdue for him to capitalize on his national recognition, and O'Connell is certainly well-qualified to cash in big. I'm not saying there's any truth to this rumor at all, but aside from that, how long can he possibly hold out? And given all the other big-name chefs cashing in on their fame (refer to, um, you-know-who), why on earth shoudn't he?

Cheers,

Rocks.

I don't doubt that for a second. Hotel Washington seems like a strange venue because it has been off the radar over the years, plus, it's a union house. Everyone knows that incense, Gregorian chant, Dalmations and unions don't mix. Restaurant and terrace on the roof is kinda cool, though.

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Hotel Washington seems like a strange venue because it has been off the radar over the years, plus, it's a union house. Everyone knows that incense, Gregorian chant, Dalmations and unions don't mix. Restaurant and terrace on the roof is kinda cool, though.
But, once it becomes a W, it should be the talk of the town.

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I don't doubt that for a second. Hotel Washington seems like a strange venue because it has been off the radar over the years, plus, it's a union house. Everyone knows that incense, Gregorian chant, Dalmations and unions don't mix. Restaurant and terrace on the roof is kinda cool, though.
I doubt that the incense will cause many issues with the staff, though it might conflict with whatever that God awful fragrance is that I smell in each of the W's that I have stayed in. Hopefully they find someone decent to operate "the world class restaurant" and they don't emulate the W Union Square and saddle it with Olives.

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What would really be mind-boggling is a restaurant with a terrific view AND terrific food.

I'd imagine the W will put the restaurant on the ground floor - that rooftop space is far more valuble as a bar or suites than it is for dining. Even so, that view across the street to the Treasury isn't so shabby.

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