The Gastronaut’s Menu at the Inn at Little Washington

We introduced some good friends to one of our favorite restaurants, the Inn at Little Washington on Saturday night.  The Inn is located in Washington, Virginia, about an hour and 15 minutes from our house.  It was a beautiful afternoon to drive out to the Inn (sunny and in the 50s), and we were warmly welcomed by the staff when we arrived.  After some deliberation, we opted for the tasting menu (called The Gastronaut’s Menu) with its accompanying paired wines.

We started off with some pre-meal goodies–parmesan tulles and black truffle dusted popcorn (a personal favorite!).  We also were served some delicious amuse bouches—the world’s smallest baked potato, a Valrhona chocolate sandwich filled with foie gras, and a bloody mary gelée.  The introductory courses ended with a shot of white bean soup and a puffed cheese pastry.

amuse boucheswhite bean soup

Next came a quartet of Rappahannock River “Barcat” Oyster Slurpees.  From left to right, they came accompanied with a small scoop of tomato sorbet, cucumber sorbet, cocktail sauce sorbet, and wasabi sorbet.  The wine served with this course was a Veuve Fourny et Fils, Brut Rosé, Vertus, 1er Cru Champagne.

oyster slurpees

The next course (and one of our favorites) was a Pan Seared Gulf Shrimp with House Made Sweet Chorizo and Shishito Peppers on Charred Onions.  The paired wine for this course was a 2009 Quinta de Sant’Ana, Fernão Pires, Mafra from Lisboa, Portugal.

grilled shrimp

Another favorite was the Miniature Filet of Cod Sauté with Lemon Vodka Sauce and Lilliputian Shrimp Dumplings, which was served with a 2007 Verget, Les Clous, Meursault from Burgundy, France.

cod with dumplings

Then came the Maine Day Boat Scallop Sautéed with Tomato Gnocchi, Capers, Brown Butter, and Lemon accompanied by a glass of 2006 Marc Sorrel, Les Rocoules, Hermitage Blanc from the Rhône Valley in France.  I am generally not a fan of white wine, but this wine had a lot of tannin in it and was very rich and dense—much more like a red wine than a typical white, which is probably why it was my favorite white wine of the evening.

scallops

A surprisingly good Roast Pheasant on Savoy Cabbage Braised in Champagne with Truffle Jus followed.  I am not a huge fan of game birds, but this dish minimized the gamey flavor of the pheasant and the savoy cabbage was a nice accompaniment.  It was served with a 2001 Hermanos Pecina, Vendimia Seleccionada Reserva from Rioja, Spain.  This wine was very much like a pinot noir—a red wine but lighter in texture and flavor than something like a cabernet sauvignon.  (Note the firefly on the serving dish–a fun and whimsical touch!)

roast pheasant

The top rated dish of the evening was next:  Blackened Wagyu Rib Eye with Bone Marrow Custard and Red Wine Risotto.  The beef had been blackened with pepper and espresso and was tender, marbled, and divine.  Accompanying the dish was a 2005 Ladera, Howell Mountain, Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley—a big bold red wine with lots of flavor.

wagyu ribeye

The pre-dessert (or, as the Inn calls it, the palate cleanser) was a Pineapple-Lemongrass Sorbet with Pink Peppercorn Granita.

pineapple sorbet

And the final dish of the night was a Warm Chocolate Bread Pudding and Almond Ice Cream Perfumed with Black Truffle accompanied by a glass of 1994 Blandy’s, Island Bottled Malmsey from Madeira, Portugal.  The Madeira was toffee and caramel colored, and it was amazing that a color like that could come solely from grapes.  It was also rich and sweet and a perfect dessert wine.  (The bread pudding wasn’t bad either.)  🙂

chocolate bread pudding

We eat at the Inn more often than we sometimes are willing to admit in public and have had many wonderful meals there over the years.  This meal stood out even amongst all the other meals.  It definitely deserves an A+.

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