Middle and Main streets, Washington, Va. 703/675- 3800. D $16.95-$22.95. D only. Closed Mon, Tues and Jan. MC, V. Res req.
A dream of a country restaurant, it gets better every year. This year the dining room has been redecorated, with richly detailed wallpapers and a paneled ceiling. Weather permitting, cocktails are available in a new walled garden that is complete with waterfalls and a canal. The news on the menu is every bit as good, for each year chef Patrick O'Connell's style becomes surer and more personal. His food's artistry is visual as well as gustatory: a simple dish of strawberries with cream is a mosaic of berries and whipped cream rosettes on a pool of cr,eme anglaise etched with berry sauce. Duck with wild raspberries looks too beautiful to eat, but tastes too delicious to miss. The Inn uses its local resources-- Virginia ham, crab, trout, herbs--to create superb modifications on classics. But even better are the chef's ideas that emerge from fresh products he finds, whether it is smoked duck in a salad with calvados vinaigrette, sweetbreads in a mustard cream sauce or sherbets and ice cream of intense flavor. The wine list continues to discover good news in California and nearby Virginia. Country touches are everywhere from the corn muffins to the garden flowers; worldliness shows in the chocolate lace that decorates a Girardet-inspired pecan- chocolate-grapefruit pie.