Va. restaurant becomes area’s first 3-star Michelin

The Inn at Little Washington is known by critics and clientele as one of the most luxurious destinations in the country. But 40 years ago, it was far from fancy. What serves as the main building today was once an old garage with a junkyard on one side and the town dump in the back. (©2012 Gordon Beall/Gordon Beall)
The Inn at Little Washington is the first D.C.-area restaurant to be awarded three Michelin stars. (©2012 Gordon Beall/Gordon Beall) (©2012 Gordon Beall/Gordon Beall)
Patrick O’Connell is the chef and proprietor of The Inn at Little Washington. (Courtesy The Inn at Little Washington)
Patrick O’Connell is the chef and proprietor of The Inn at Little Washington. This year, he is celebrating The Inn’s 40th anniversary. (Courtesy The Inn at Little Washington) (Courtesy The Inn at Little Washington )
Radish tartine with Virginia country ham and caviar at The Inn at Little Washington, a two-star Michelin restaurant about an hour outside of Washington, D.C. (Courtesy The Inn at Little Washington)
Pictured: Radish tartine with Virginia country ham and caviar at The Inn at Little Washington, a three-star Michelin restaurant about an hour outside of Washington, D.C. (Courtesy The Inn at Little Washington) (Courtesy The Inn at Little Washington )
The design for the kitchen at The Inn at Little Washington came from Windsor Castle. (Courtesy The Inn at Little Washington)
The design for the kitchen at The Inn at Little Washington came from Windsor Castle. (Courtesy The Inn at Little Washington) (Courtesy Gordon Beall/ The Inn at Little Washington)
Spanish chef Jose Andres displays 48-month cured ham from acorn-fed, free-range, black-footed Iberico pigs from Spain at his ThinkFoodGroup station, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018, during the Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) annual benefit in New York. Andres was honored with the C-CAP Honors award, which is granted to individuals within the culinary industry for exceptional leadership and achievements. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Chef José Andrés’ restaurant, Minibar, maintained its two-star status in the 2019 Michelin Guide. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) (AP/Kathy Willens)
Blue Duck Tavern held on to its star status. It was one of 13 D.C.-area restaurants to receive one star in the 2019 Michelin Guide. (Courtesy Park Hyatt Washington) (Courtesy Park Hyatt Washington )
Masseria is in D.C.'s Union Market district. (Photo Credit Scott Suchman)
Masseria, in D.C.’s Union Market district, also held onto its star status in the 2019 Michelin Guide. (Photo Credit Scott Suchman) (SCOTT SUCHMAN)
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak
Komi, a Greek and Mediterranean restaurant, was awarded one Michelin star. One star denotes “high-quality cooking, worth a stop.” (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak) (AP/Charles Dharapak)
Plume is one of D.C.'s 12 Michelin-starred restaurants. Located in the Jefferson Hotel on 16th Street NW, the restaurant's focus is on fine dining. (Courtesy Kyle Schmitz)
Plume is one of D.C.’s Michelin-starred restaurants. It’s located in the Jefferson Hotel on 16th Street NW. (Courtesy Kyle Schmitz) (Courtesy Kyle Schmitz)
Peanut-crusted softshell crab tempura, perfumed with orange and lemongrass at The Inn at Little Washington. (Courtesy The Inn at Little Washington)
Pictured: Peanut-crusted softshell crab tempura, perfumed with orange and lemongrass at The Inn at Little Washington. (Courtesy The Inn at Little Washington) (Courtesy The Inn at Little Washington )
A view from the ballroom at The Inn at Little Washington, located about 70 miles outside of Washington, D.C. (Gordon Beall)
A view from the ballroom at The Inn at Little Washington, located about 70 miles outside of Washington, D.C. (Gordon Beall) (Gordon Beall)
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The Inn at Little Washington is known by critics and clientele as one of the most luxurious destinations in the country. But 40 years ago, it was far from fancy. What serves as the main building today was once an old garage with a junkyard on one side and the town dump in the back. (©2012 Gordon Beall/Gordon Beall)
Patrick O’Connell is the chef and proprietor of The Inn at Little Washington. (Courtesy The Inn at Little Washington)
Radish tartine with Virginia country ham and caviar at The Inn at Little Washington, a two-star Michelin restaurant about an hour outside of Washington, D.C. (Courtesy The Inn at Little Washington)
The design for the kitchen at The Inn at Little Washington came from Windsor Castle. (Courtesy The Inn at Little Washington)
Spanish chef Jose Andres displays 48-month cured ham from acorn-fed, free-range, black-footed Iberico pigs from Spain at his ThinkFoodGroup station, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018, during the Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) annual benefit in New York. Andres was honored with the C-CAP Honors award, which is granted to individuals within the culinary industry for exceptional leadership and achievements. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Masseria is in D.C.'s Union Market district. (Photo Credit Scott Suchman)
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak
Plume is one of D.C.'s 12 Michelin-starred restaurants. Located in the Jefferson Hotel on 16th Street NW, the restaurant's focus is on fine dining. (Courtesy Kyle Schmitz)
Peanut-crusted softshell crab tempura, perfumed with orange and lemongrass at The Inn at Little Washington. (Courtesy The Inn at Little Washington)
A view from the ballroom at The Inn at Little Washington, located about 70 miles outside of Washington, D.C. (Gordon Beall)

WASHINGTON — The release of the star-rated restaurants in the 2019 Michelin Guide brought a wave of excitement to D.C.’s culinary community Sept. 13. The Inn at Little Washington became the area’s first three-star restaurant since the Guide’s D.C. launch in 2016.

The two previous D.C. Michelin Guides awarded Patrick O’Connell’s classic, yet quirky, Washington, Virginia dining destination two stars, along with Aaron Silverman’s Pineapple and Pearls and José Andrés’ Minibar.

Both Pineapple and Pearls and Minibar maintained their two-star status in the 2019 Michelin Guide, and remain the only two restaurants in the two-star category.

Thirteen D.C. restaurants were awarded one star, with Ryan Ratino’s Bresca and Robert Wiedmaier’s Siren new to the list. No restaurants were stripped of a star in this year’s review.

“Our inspectors are especially impressed with the consistency of the restaurant scene in D.C.,” said Michael Ellis, international director of the Michelin Guide, in a news release.

“Every starred restaurant recognized last year has maintained exceptional quality and steadiness.”

The Inn at Little Washington is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. O’Connell, chef and proprietor, began building his dream restaurant in a rented space that was previously an auto repair garage. It’s since evolved into a luxurious five-star retreat, and continues to expand.

(The video below was posted of The Inn at Little Washington team celebrating the restaurant’s three-stars. Chef Patrick O’Connell is in the red bib.)

The Michelin Guide also publishes a Bib Gourmand, or “cheap eats” list. Thirty-nine D.C. restaurants were included in this category in the 2019 edition, up from 22 last year.

The Michelin Guide, founded by the tire company, has been rating restaurants with its star system since the 1930s, and it started as a way to encourage car travel. One star denotes “high-quality cooking, worth a stop,” two stars means “excellent cooking, worth a detour,” and three stars, the highest honor, signifies “exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.”

Anonymous inspectors review the restaurants and judge them on a number of criteria, including quality of the ingredients used, mastery of flavor and cooking techniques, and consistency.

D.C. is one of four cities in the U.S. to have a Michelin Guide. Others include New York, Chicago and San Francisco. Michelin publishes 31 other guides throughout Europe, South America and Asia.

Here’s the full breakdown of the 2019 Michelin Guide star-rated restaurants:

Three stars

The Inn at Little Washington

Two stars

Minibar
Pineapple and Pearls

One star

Blue Duck Tavern
Bresca (New)
The Dabney
Fiola
Kinship
Komi
Masseria
Métier
Plume
Rose’s Luxury
Siren by RW (New)
Sushi Taro
Tail Up Goat


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