The village of Washington will soon be even more of a foodie destination. Patrick O’Connell, chef-owner of three Michelin star The Inn at Little Washington, has big plans for the tiny burg. He has been planning a cafe for more than a year. But he reveals that part of his intention to revitalize his home base also includes reopening a historical general store.
“The cafe was originally intended to open in August. We had to pause for a few months,” he explains. The designer in Paris took a break due to the pandemic, but he says that work has “resumed full speed ahead.” The plan is to open in the spring.
O’Connell says that he envisions the cafe as “the town living room, the center of town.” In the warm months, umbrella-covered tables will fill the sidewalks. In winter, guests will stay warm by the fireplace. And the food? “It will be American foods I grew up with reimagined, but everything will be taken to a new level” he says.
That includes a grilled cheese sandwich “with magnificent cheese.” It will be on bread crafted at their own bakery. Other dishes include meatballs “like no other meatball you’ve ever tasted,” and matzoh ball soup.
Why open a casual eatery now? O’Connell says that when guests stay at the inn for longer than a single night, they’re starved for alternatives to the restaurant’s pricey prix-fixe. “Our nearest supermarket is 23 miles away,” the chef explains. “That leads you to Warrenton where the best restaurant is Chick-fil-A. It is a bit of a desert still.”
O’Connell says that step one is the cafe, but that step two will be the general store, which has been out of operation for close to 18 years. The plan is to brew their own coffee, which will help to make the store “a town gathering place.” Carefully curated wines and cheeses will also be available, making it possible for shoppers to replicate parts of their The Inn at Little Washington experience at home. There’s much to look forward to in Washington next year.
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