Goodstone Inn & Restaurant
Middleburg / Modern American / $$$$
Dining at The Conservatory at Goodstone Inn is a bit like a fairy tale. First, there’s the winding drive up Snake Hill to the enchanting property. It’s an adventure on its own, philosophical miles from the nearby, well-manicured Salamander Resort & Spa.
The mystique continues with chef Jan Van Haute’s clean, unfussy cuisine. [Update: Van Haute is no longer chef at Goodstone Inn.] At dinner, it’s a good idea to get a tasting to try everything from sparklingly fresh scallop crudo to a chocolate dome that melts at the table. But I’m always happiest enjoying the brightness of the day at lunch in The Conservatory’s glass dining room. Lunch is usually easy to score a reservation for, so let your whims (and your hunger) take you for a wine-filled midday meal. Petite portions of dishes like Dover sole in beurre blanc and veal medallions are hedged by gnocchi.
Of course, the story must have a happy ending. And what could be happier than tucking into a peach tart covered in a scoop of peach sorbet or cracking into a crème brûlée?
See this: Depending on your mood, the slightly worn hunting-lodge aesthetic can be romantic or feel like Grey Gardens.
Eat this: Scallop crudo, Dover sole, crème brûlée
Service: Courteous, but the fireworks really take off when you discuss wines with the deeply knowledgeable staff.
When to dine here: Your rich bestie is paying for a lunch you’ll both long remember—as long as you don’t drink too much wine.