100 Very Best Restaurants: #12 – The Inn at Little Washington

Photo by Scott Suchman

To keep a restaurant open for 40 years is remarkable. Even more so? Continuing to draw diners from hours away to celebrate their most important occasions. The Inn is singular in that way. Chef Patrick O’Connell is more elder statesman than trendsetter these days—his “here and now” tasting menu doesn’t feel any more modern than his lineup of “enduring classics”—but what he does he does almost flawlessly. Foie gras custard with balsamic-and-raisin purée is the very definition of luxurious, and grilled rack of lamb with autumn “cassoulet” captures more meaty flavor than any chops we’ve tried all year. Meanwhile, the staff combines fine-dining formality (“For the lady . . .”) with charm and humor. In particular, people who love puns as much as piave will want to request a visit from Faira, the cow-shaped cheese cart, and Cameron Smith, the wordplay-loving fromager. Very expensive.
Also great: “Tin of sin” (caviar and crab); lamb carpaccio with Caesar-salad ice cream; pan-roasted duck breast; Wagyu beef two ways; butter-pecan-ice-cream sandwich.

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.

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.