Return to story
Dressing the part: The desserts at the Inn at Montross,
OK, I've never done this before, but I'm going to recommend a restaurant--with reservations. It's not that I've got any qualms about suggesting that folks dine at the Inn at Montross, a lovely B&B with five guest rooms on the Northern Neck.
On the contrary. I'd urge people to visit the inn at their earliest convenience. But before setting off on the 45-minute journey from Fredericksburg they ought to think about making dinner reservations--and while they're at it, some room reservations, too.
Because my sense is, when word gets around about the masterful Modern American cuisine chef Cindy Syndergaard and staff deliver each and every Friday and Saturday night, it's going to be tough to get anywhere near the place. And once diners have sampled the deep flavors generated by her fine-dining menu--which changes with the seasons and features locally sourced food--they won't be in a hurry to do much of anything, unless it's to kick their feet up on the inn's inviting porch.
Reviewed, largely favorably, in these pages a little over a year ago--right after it reopened following extensive renovations to the late-18th-century structure that houses it--the inn was due for a reappraisal. The menu has since gone through a couple of cycles, resulting in a kitchen that now has clearly hit its stride.
With its great location, outstanding ambience and unsurpassed service, along with the fabulous food and its striking presentation, the inn is possessed of an embarrassment of riches. Come to think of it, the Inn at Montross reminds me of another B&B, albeit a mythical one--the impossibly charming Dragonfly Inn in Stars Hollow, Conn.--you know, the B&B featured on "Gilmore Girls." (I'm not ashamed of being one of the six or seven men to have actually watched all seven seasons of the classic TV show.)
When my wife and I visited the real-life Inn at Montross on a recent Friday night for dinner, we were treated to out-of-this-world service, including being warmly greeted by everyone--from the hostess to the server to the chef herself. One of the inn's "silent partner" owners even made a point of stopping by our table to ensure our needs were being met, not a difficult thing to do with a menu listing everything from pecan-crusted fried chicken to fresh flounder with grilled local peach salsa.
For starters, we ordered two appetizer "specials." I got the playful lamb-chop trio ($18.95) served medium-rare on a bed of creamy Parmesan risotto. (One chop was blackened, another was "naked" and the third came with tangy mandarin-chili sauce.) My partner had a bowl of the flavorful mushroom soup ($6.95) the chef jokingly referred to as her "ugly soup," because no cream had gone into its production. (Just aromatics, stock, lemon juice, chipotle powder and lots and lots of local button mushrooms, she said.) For dinner we had an order of crawfish-topped local rockfish with wild rice and green beans ($26.95), as well as the jumbo pan-seared sea scallops served over stone-ground grit cakes in house butter sauce with zesty Granny Smith apple salsa ($26). The entrees were every bit as good as they sound, if not quite as sinful as the salty-crunch-caramel cake and chocolate-peanut-butter pie ($7 each) we followed them up with.
When Syndergaard, 44, a 1997 culinary grad of the Art Institute of Atlanta and onetime corporate chef to such clients as Google, Sysco and CSX rail, was asked what changes she'd like to see going forward at the inn, she said, "I'd love to see the restaurant open more."
That's a proposal that lovers of good food surely won't have any reservations about.
Kurt Rabin: 540/374-5000
Beer and wine and mixed drinks are available.The Scoop: Fantastic food and unparalleled service in a cozy B&B setting, 44 miles from Fredericksburg Payment: Major credit cards accepted