The Inn at Little Washington Restaurant: 14 Things to Know Before You Go

by | Last updated Apr 24, 2024 | Best Food United States, Virginia

There are only thirteen 3-star Michelin restaurants in the United States, and one of them is located in a rural town in Virginia. After watching The Inn at Little Washington: A Delicious Documentary, we were excited and started checking for reservation openings daily. Finally one opened up weeks after we started searching. My fingers flew over the computer keyboard to lock it in. Before our big dining event at the legendary Inn at Little Washington Restaurant, we had questions.

What to wear? Where to stay? What else is there to do? Here are all the answers to the 14 questions you may have (or haven’t even thought of yet) on one of the most amazing foodie experiences!

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01- Dress Code 

Posing at the entrance of The Inn at Little Washington Restaurant

Posing at the entrance of The Inn at Little Washington Restaurant

There is NO dress code. You wear what is comfortable.

The staff is extremely friendly, and there is no judgment. With that being said, most diners here are celebrating special occasions and do dress up.

We enjoyed our tasting menu experience on a hot summer Saturday evening.

Since it was summertime, I was debating whether to wear a more casual sundress or cocktail attire. I went with cocktail attire. My husband wore a suit.

My observation was almost all the men wore suit jackets. The women wore a mix of long sundresses and cocktail attire, and one wore white pants with a nice top.

02- Hotel Options Other Than the Inn

The White Moose Inn in Washington Virginia

The White Moose Inn in Washington, Virginia

I would strongly advise spending the night if you are dining at The Inn at Little Washington Restaurant. This is an incredibly unique dining experience, and they have amazing cocktails and quite an extensive wine list.

No one is going to want to volunteer to be the DD on a night like this.

Of course, spending the night at The Inn at Little Washington is an experience itself and will cost you anywhere from $525 – $3750 depending on the room and date selected. The rate includes a welcome cocktail, afternoon tea, guaranteed dinner reservation, and breakfast the next day.

This is not the only option though!

If The Inn’s rooms are all booked or you want to save several hundred dollars, you have 4 options:

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#1- FOSTER HARRIS HOUSE

Foster Harris House

Foster Harris House

Luxury B&B with a delicious gourmet breakfast. 4 min. walk to the Inn.

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#2- BLUE ROCK INN

Outdoor seating overlooking the vineyard and Blue Ridge Mountains at Blue Rock

Outdoor seating overlooking the vineyard and Blue Ridge Mountains at Blue Rock Inn

Beautifully renovated charming country Inn that also has an incredible dining experience with the former chef of D.C.’s 2-star Michelin restaurant Pineapple & Pearls. 4 min. drive to the Inn.

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#3- GAY STREET INN

Gay Street Inn

Gay Street Inn

Friendly B&B with a great morning breakfast. 4 min. walk to the Inn.

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#4- THE WHITE MOOSE INN (OUR CHOICE)

Outdoor area at The White Moose Inn

Outdoor area at The White Moose Inn

We snagged a last-minute reservation to The Inn at Little Washington Restaurant, and all the rooms at The Inn were booked.

We scrambled to find accommodations within walking distance of the restaurant.

Our second choice was The White Moose Inn.

It is a mere block away from the restaurant.

The proximity is important especially if you dine on an evening with less than ideal weather. The sky decided to open up and pour rain right before we had to walk over to our dinner reservation.

I was super happy I only had a block to walk in high heels while balancing an umbrella and my cookbook (more on that later!).

We had an incredible experience at The White Moose Inn mainly due to the warm hospitality of the inn’s manager, Rachel! I loved the aesthetic of the property … chic, warm colors, modern, clean lines, and mid-century modern touches.

Daily happy hour from 5-6 pm. You have a choice of Early Mountain Vineyards red or white wine or Copper Fox whisky. All local establishments.

FAVORITE FOOD & WINE WEEKEND GETAWAYS: If you are looking for other romantic foodie getaways in Virginia’s countryside, discover my top 7 picks!

03- Dreams Can Happen 

Patrick O'Connells Refined American Cuisine Cookbook

Signed Patrick O’Connell’s Refined American Cuisine Cookbook

Alright, I realize the title of point #3 is a little corny.

Let me explain.

I brought my Chef Patrick O’Connells’ cookbook Refined American Cuisine with me during dinner in hopes he would sign it for my husband’s birthday. I asked the hostess if that was possible. She could not guarantee it, but she said she would try.

After we were seated and halfway into our first glass of champagne, she walks over with a big smile on her face. She said she was able to catch the Chef to grab a quick signature.

I was elated. This incredibly kind gesture made my evening!

04- There is a Kitchen Table Experience 

How did I not know about this before?

I didn’t find out about this experience until well after our dinner at The Inn at Little Washington Restaurant.

For a surcharge of $750 per table, you can experience what is referred to as “dinner and a movie.”

Sit back and watch the talented staff dance around the impressive kitchen.

The giant Vulcan range in the kitchen was built in France, and the walls are beautifully adorned in handmade blue and white Portuguese tiles.

There are only 2 tables that seat up to 6 people per table. You cannot book the Kitchen Table Experience online.

Call the reservations department. Ah, maybe we’ll book this experience for our 20th wedding anniversary if Chef Patrick O’Connell has not retired by then.

05- Chef Patrick O’Connell is Actually Present

A lot of celebrity chefs are not always present in the kitchen every night.

I wasn’t sure if the Chef would actually be there the night we dined. But he was, and Patrick O’Connell signed my cookbook! I was one happy lady.

06- Wine Pairing vs. Bottle(s) + Cocktail

Spirit, Acid, Bitter, Sweet, Heat Cocktail at The Inn at Little Washington in Virginia

My pre-dinner cocktail: Spirit, Acid, Bitter, Sweet, Heat Cocktail is made of Mezcal, Local Fortified Wine, Campari, Local Honey, Citrus, Chili 

Decisions, decisions.

I am embarrassed to say my husband and I research everything. We looked up the wine pairing choices AHEAD of time to get a sense of the wines used for the pairing.

Of course, they were all excellent choices verified by Vivino (4.0+ rating) in the $50+ range.

We usually go with the wine pairings, but the Inn at Little Washington had some really interesting wine choices on their extensive wine list.

Since we were celebrating my husband’s belated birthday, we immediately gravitated toward the Champagne section and were intrigued by The Inn’s “Grower Champagne” selection.

Grower Champagne was a completely new term for us. Our sommelier, Kenny, explained typically Champagne houses will blend together grapes from multiple growers. It is made AND bottled by the same person who grew the grapes.

What you get is very interesting and unique wines specific to that vineyard’s climate and terroir instead of a more consistent flavor profile when you blend the grapes from multiple growers.

We have since visited France and went on a fantastic Champagne tour to learn more.

Of all the Champagne imported into the United States, only 5% is Grower Champagne!

We were sold and selected the last bottle of Marc Hebrart Champagne Selection Brut NV they had. It was fantastic!

DRINK DECISIONS:

Option 1

Wine Pairing Cost: $208 pp x 2 = $416 total

** 2024: Wine pairing is now $250 per person.

Option 2

1 bottle of very unique Champagne ($165) + 2 cocktails ($22 pp) + 2 glasses of Madeira to end the evening ($22 pp) = $253 total

Going with Option 2 was a no-brainer for us.

07- Actual Cost 

What is a special celebratory evening to one of only thirteen 3-Star Michelin restaurants in the entire United States going to cost for 2 people?

  • Dinner: $265 per person x 2 people
  • Cheese Supplement: $28
  • Drinks: $253
  • Beverage, Tax, Service Charge (tip already included)

    Total: $1036.50

    Worth it?

    For a celebration, yes!

    ** 2024: Dinner is now $368 per person. 

    08- Order the Cheest to Meet Faira & Cameron

    Cameron the cheese sommelier and Faira the cow at Inn at Little Washington

    Cameron, the cheese sommelier, and Faira the cow at The Inn at Little Washington

    I love the whimsical, ornate, and eccentric feel of The Inn at Little Washington Restaurant.

    Make sure to order the cheese supplement. A fun experience towards the end of the evening is meeting the fun and quirky Cameron, the Cheese Sommelier, and his trusty cow, Faira.

    Cameron is full of witty puns and has a wealth of cheese knowledge. After sharing what we liked, he whipped up a great selection to try.

    One favorite now is Epoisses.

    Yes, it is pungent and they have banned it on the Parisian public transport system due to the smell. But it is delicious and super creamy! Whole Foods now carries it. Or if you want to experience it at the source, take a flight to France and enjoy a cheese class as we did.

    09- Prepare for a 3-Hour Experience

    Carpaccio of Herb-Crusted Elysian Fields Baby Lamb Loin with Caesar Salad Ice Cream at The Inn at Little Washington Restaurant

    Carpaccio of Herb-Crusted Elysian Fields Baby Lamb Loin with Caesar Salad Ice Cream at The Inn at Little Washington Restaurant

    There are two seatings: 5:00-5:45 pm and 8:00-9 pm. Our reservation was at 8:45 pm, and we finished just before midnight.

    Prepare for 3 hours for a lovely 5-course tasting menu.

    This incredible dining event is #19 on our couples bucket list for exceptional experiences.

    10- Discover the Fanciest Chicken Coop Ever

    Red star chickens hanging out at their fancy chicken coop at the farm at The Inn at Little Washington in Virginia

    Red star chickens hanging out at their fancy chicken coop at the farm at The Inn at Little Washington in Virginia

    After our amazing dining experience and a good night’s sleep, we walked over to The Inn at Little Washington’s farm the next morning.

    You will walk by the Red Star chickens, and they are living it up!

    The coop comes with stained glass windows and supposedly has a chandelier. I couldn’t get close enough to peer inside to verify. This particular breed’s brown eggs are known for their rich flavor.

    Llamas at The Inn at Little Washington Farm in Virginia

    Llamas at The Inn at Little Washington’s Farm 

    There is a Perimeter Walk you can take around the llama pasture (yes, they have 2 resident llamas!) to check out all the farm animals, beehives, and gardens.

    They have their own farmer, gardener, butcher, and beekeeper. Because of this deep commitment to sustainability for the past several decades, not only has The Inn at Little Washington earned 3-Michelin stars but also a Green Star by Illy.

    11- Gift Shop is Worth a Stop 

    Lake Bohinj in Slovenia

    Local honey purchased at The Inn at Little Washington gift shop

    I am not a trinket kinda person and usually avoid souvenir shops, but The Inn at Little Washington’s gift shop is worth poking your head into.

    You can purchase anything from artwork to signature bags to cookbooks to the famous Dalmatian aprons Chef Patrick O’Connell is known for wearing around the kitchen.

    I was there specifically to check out the food options. Offerings include various jams, granola, spiced pineapple bar treats, and truffled popcorn. I settled on a local jar of honey made from the beehives we had just walked past.

    Lake Bohinj in Slovenia

    Salted pecan currant rye bread purchased at The Inn at Little Washington gift shop

    We also purchased a loaf of the salted pecan currant rye bread we had sampled at last night’s dinner. If you love rye bread, this is delicious and addicting!

    In addition, I picked up some holiday cards of The Inn at Little Washington. I love beautiful stationery!

    12- There is No Uber

    If you are driving anywhere from the DC area, stay the night. You will not be able to Uber home because there is no Uber!

    There are some taxi and transportation services The Inn recommends, but it is costly. For that price, you might as well enjoy a good night’s sleep and breakfast at one of the local accommodations.

    These were the transportation options recommended by the Inn:  

    1. Front Royal Taxi  (local transportation only)

    2. Presidential Limousine

    3. Executive Limousine

    13- Forget Cell Reception

    You are out in rural Virginia, so forget cell phone coverage. If you have Sprint or T-mobile, you will be fine.

    If you don’t, you will not have cell phone coverage. Washington, Virginia is out there!

    I would highly advise downloading Google offline maps if you are using cellular-based GPS to get there. You do not want to be late for this dinner reservation.

    14- Things to Do Other Than The Inn

    The Inn at Little Washington = The Town of Washington, Virginia.

    Without The Inn, there would be no town. There are a few little shops to check out like Wine Loves Chocolate and r.h. ballard shop & gallery.

    However, if you explore right outside the town of Washington, there is much to see and do!

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    RDV VINEYARDS

    Wine tasting at RdV Vineyards in Delaplane Virginia

    Wine tasting at RdV Vineyards in Delaplane, Virginia

    One of the top wineries in Virginia is RdV Vineyards, which is located 40 minutes away from The Inn at Little Washington Restaurant.

    We visited this winery on a separate getaway, but you could stop by for a tasting on your way back home from The Inn.

    RdV is truly a stunning property with a beautifully designed silo as its centerpiece. Elements of stone, wood, leather, and glass can be seen throughout the property.

    They are specifically known for their Bordeaux reds. Part of the success of these delicious wines is due to the consulting services of French enologist Eric Boissenot, known as “Bordeaux’’s secret weapon.” Eric mostly consults for French vineyards, but he decided to take on one U.S. client, RdV.

    No unannounced visits are allowed here. Tastings are by appointment only Friday-Sunday from 11-5 pm. You can reserve indoors or outdoors. Our reservation was indoors since we went on a hot summer day.

    Cost? $120 pp for a 90-minute experience. This is definitely the most expensive wine tasting we have done in Virginia.

    Worth it? I would say this is a fun experience to do once to taste some of the BEST wine Virginia has to offer.

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    THREE BLACKSMITHS

    Fazio Farms Rabbit Roulade at Three Blacksmiths in Sperryville

    Fazio Farms Rabbit Roulade at Three Blacksmiths in Sperryville

    While we were at RdV Vineyards, we met the previous pastry chef from the Inn at Little Washington. She let us in on a little secret. One of the lesser-known foodie gems was only 8 minutes from The Inn.

    If you really want to make it a blow-out foodie weekend, make reservations at Three Blacksmiths in Sperryville. You will need 203 days in advance to book. Good luck.

    It’s worth the wait. We dine there every year now and make a weekend of it if that tells you anything.

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    COPPER FOX DISTILLERY

    Premium whisky tasting  at Copper Fox Distillery in Sperryville Virginia

    Premium whisky tasting at Copper Fox Distillery in Sperryville, Virginia

    Great whisky can be produced in places other than Kentucky. And Virginia has several worth checking out.

    You may be familiar with the famous award-winning A. Smith Bowman Distillery in Fredericksburg, Virginia’s oldest distillery. But have you heard of Copper Fox Distillery?  

    Located 9 minutes away from The Inn in the mountain town of Sperryville, Copper Fox Distillery is housed in an old apple processing plant.

    The owner, Rick Wasmund, gained his whisky-making skills while apprenticing in Scotland. Copper Fox distinguishes itself by being the only distillery to use toasted applewood instead of peat to mature their whisky.

    We swung by for a whisky tasting. The ambiance is a little lacking indoors, so ideally you want to take advantage of the riverside seating. Because of the recent rain though, we had to sit indoors.

    We ordered one premium tasting flight ($15) and a few cocktails. Although I wish it was more than just a few sips, I particularly enjoyed the Ward 8 cocktail. This refreshing drink is made of Copper Fox Original Rye, house-made Elderberry grenadine, fresh blood orange, lemon juice, Antica Vermouth, and house bitters.  

    My husband enjoyed the classic Old-Fashioned, which was made using Copper Fox Original Rye, simple syrup, house-made bitters, Amarena Cherry, and orange garnish.

    Cocktails are on the smaller side and will range from $8-$14.

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    WHITE OAK CANYON TRAIL

    Lake Bohinj in Slovenia

    Chasing waterfalls at White Oak Canyon Trail 

    Before we stuffed our faces all night, we got a good workout in before our reservation.

    If you love the outdoors and do not mind sweating it out, check out the White Oak Canyon hike. The trailhead is located about 50 minutes from Washington and is well worth a trip.

    The trail runs alongside the Robinson River and takes you past a series of 6 waterfalls. When we went, it was super humid and hot. We saw a lot of people cooling off and swimming in the pools created by the waterfalls.

    You can make this out and back hike easy or hard.

    Final Thoughts

    We enjoyed some amazing food during our travel including Sawada in Japan, Maido in Peru, Hisa Franko in Slovenia, Pujol in Mexico City, and The Test Kitchen in Cape Town. Now we can put The Inn at Little Washington up there with these incredible foodie experiences!

    Enjoy it, stay the night, and take in the surrounding sights.

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    Questions about our dining experience?

    Let me know in the comments below!

    12 Comments
    1. Susan Mccormack

      How does $265 plus us $28 plus $225 add up to $1036
      Especially if gratuity is included

      Reply
      • Nichole

        Great question. It’s $265 pp (per person). $265 x 2 people = $530. $530 + $28 + $253 = $811. On our bill, the food & beverage tax + tip was already included, which came to $1036.50. I’ve taken out the pp abbreviation to make it less confusing.

        Reply
      • Laura C

        I’d love information on the tailor!

        Reply
        • Nichole

          Thanks for reaching out. I just sent you their information via email. 🙂

          Reply
    2. Fatima Smith

      I would like to know if we can go for lunch?

      Reply
      • Nichole

        No lunch options at The Inn.

        However, Chef Patrick O’Connell opened a casual sister restaurant right across the street called Patty O’s Cafe. It is opened for lunch.

        They have a beautiful outdoor terrace to enjoy lunch if the weather is nice.

        Don’t miss the carrot cake!

        Reply
    3. Constance White

      Great information!! Thank you

      Reply
      • Nichole

        Thanks so much for the feedback. Enjoy the dining experience!

        Reply
    4. Pam

      I cannot wait to go. I am surprising my husband (who hates surprises but has always wanted to go to the Inn) and know we will have a great time. Thanks for information. It is very helpful.

      Reply
      • Nichole

        What a wonderful surprise! It is quite a special dining experience. You and your husband are going to love it. Enjoy your evening.

        Reply
    5. Susan

      My husband and I have had the pleasure of eating at the Inn in Little Washington since 1982. We have not gone every year but regular. We last went in 2018. I booked for late August 2023 and noticed the ‘service fee’ of 22% which was not in place in 2018. I do not mind paying the service fee but want to know if it is in addition to a tip or is the tip. Many restaurants in the Washington Metropolitan area have a service fee in addition to tip to either cover higher costs of food or service. Did you inquire about the fee and that is why you mentioned it is ‘the tip’? I do not mind tipping above the service fee I just would like to know what the service fee is for. I like rewarding for service but if it is already taken care of I may not leave the 20% or more then I usually do and dial down.

      Reply
      • Nichole

        Great question. At the time we went, the tip was included in the service charge. There wasn’t even a line at the bottom of the receipt to add any additional amount. We had such an exceptional experience though that we did leave a little extra in cash for the staff.

        Reply

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