A dream dinner at the Inn at Little Washington

From the March 26, 2001 Issue of New York

Reservations are hard to come by at the Inn at Little Washington, the winner of the James Beard Restaurant of the Year award that's set in the rolling hills of Rappahannock County, Virginia. (It's just an hour and a half from Washington, D.C.) But if you're willing to sleep somewhere else and can handle a late-evening start time, you can be dining on its duck consomme, its fantastic local rabbit with spaetzle, its tenderloin of veal with forest mushrooms, within two weeks. The vast wine list has surprises like a Pascal Jolivet Grand Cuvee Sancerre rouge for an amazingly reasonable $68. Later, enjoy a postprandial cigar and a glass of Poire William in the courtyard, where ladies are offered wraps by obsequious attendants. It's all too deliriously delicious, and you'll easily spend upwards of $500 for two; the prix fixe is $138 on Saturdays, but with champagne, wine, and after-dinner drinks, well, let's just say you'll be giggling with giddy disbelief when you get the check. You could toddle upstairs to one of the inn's own expensive and overstuffed rooms, but instead, beat a retreat to Sharp Rock Farm, minutes away at the bottom of Rag Mountain, where you can stay in either the cottage or the carriage house. The next day, play golf at the nearby Shenvalee course or, if you go in the fall when the leaves are changing, wind your way down Skyline Drive, which runs along the Blue Ridge through Shenandoah National Park, as the setting sun sifts gold through the trees.

The Inn at Little Washington, 540-675-3800 (doubles start at $340); Sharp Rock Farm, 540-987-8020 (rooms start at $150).