100 Best Restaurants 2010: Inn at Little Washington

No. 11: Inn at Little Washington

Cuisine: Perhaps no restaurant in the region is more beholden to its reputation than this culinary legend, whose three-plus decades lead you to expect dazzling feats of culinary brilliance. Dinners are not, alas, perfect, and epiphanies are rare. But chef Patrick O’Connell’s obsession with the best ingredients money can buy—witness his liberal use of lobster, caviar, and foie gras—and the playfulness of his kitchen staff make for a night of grand indulgence.

Mood: Tapestries and tassels signal a grown-up experience, a place of hushed tones and earnest servers. But in some rooms, the tables are packed in so tightly that your neighbors are practically your dining partners.

Best for: Foodies looking for another notch on their notable-eats belts; couples celebrating a special occasion.

Best dishes: Tin of Sin, an over-the-top concoction of caviar, crab, and cucumber served in a caviar container; sorrel soup with a duo of custards; a selection of sashimi made up of four distinct presentations of raw fish; a duo of hot and cold foie gras; macaroni and cheese with ham and black truffle; veal sweetbreads; artichoke-filled pasta with braised artichokes; limoncello soufflé with Meyer-lemon ice cream.

Insider tips: Wine lovers might consider arriving early and having a glass on the gorgeous patio while looking over the 94-page wine list. And if you can’t get one of the chef’s tables, ask a server for a tour of the kitchen.

Service: •••

Open daily for dinner; closed some Tuesdays. Very expensive.

See all of 2010's 100 Best Restaurants

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.