By Stefanie Gans and Rina Rapuano
The Conservatory at Goodstone
Middleburg | Modern American | $$$$*
The magic starts here as soon as diners exit their cars and do a quick 180 to take in the lovely forest and the precious inn painted sage green with the front dominated by three large, glowing Palladian windows. A little fountain surrounded by yellow and pink flowers is another attention-grabber—yet these details are merely setting the stage for the main event, a stunning dinner at the newly renovated (and newly dubbed) Conservatory.
The dining room now resembles a sturdy greenhouse, with windows above and around bringing the outside in. A menu sealed with red wax is presented; open to reveal the vegetarian tasting, the chef’s tasting and the prix fixe, the latter of which gives three to four options for each course.
The dish of the night was a stunningly pretty baton of king crab wrapped in paper-thin cucumber ribbons topped with uni and caviar all brightened by a citrus sorbet. Buttery pan-seared scallops with caramelized sweet corn and a bowl of Icelandic cod bathing in beurre blanc with creamy mashed potatoes and mushrooms were decadent. A coconut-pineapple pavlova featured a pouf of meringue, plenty of fruit and a colorful garnish of burnt-red chile threads.
The food, the room, the wines, the service—everything adds up to a wonderful excuse to drive into the woods. // 36205 Snake Hill Road, Middleburg