Washington, Virginia, is a lovely small town that can seem a bit precious due to the influence of a few overpriced, celebrity-addled joints. The cure for such la-di-da is the tranquil, unstuffy and food-focused Foster Harris House. When you've got it, you don't have to flaunt it.
While Foster Harris is a B&B, we came just for the 5-course prix fixe dinner offered on Fridays and Saturdays in the cozy 10-seat dining room. At $89 per person ($119 with wine pairing), it proved great value for an exquisitely rendered -- but never gimmicky -- menu of cleverly used local ingredients.
Other reviewers have shared their meals. I'd like to instead emphasize the approach to the food. A 5-course dinner can sound like overstuffed Thanksgiving, but that's not the case at FH. Think of an approach to eating that's more France by way of California: small, beautiful and intensely tasty dishes based on cooking techniques aimed at highlighting the freshness and particularity of ingredients. You walk away feeling satisfied for the right reasons.
As to the service, Foster Harris again values graciousness, not grandstanding. While John MacPherson performs alchemy in the kitchen, Diane MacPherson hosts and serves guests with a grounded warmth that puts you truly at ease. She's mastered giving close attention to those who want it and comfortable space to others who prefer being left alone. Guests do talk across tables at times and John will pop out to say hi, but there's no forced party atmosphere.
Adjacent to the dining room are a large sheltered porch with seating where you can have a pre-dinner aperitif, and a small comfy parlor presumably available for post-meal torpor. But given the impressive consistency of hospitality and food, I'm booking a room the next time we visit.
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