Ashby Inn’s Moroccan-inlfuenced lamb loin encrusted with almonds and served with lemony hummus. (Scott Suchman/For The Washington Post)

NOTE: Chef David Dunlap announced his departure from the Ashby Inn & Restaurant for a job in Richmond after this review was completed. Sunday, May 17, is Dunlap’s last day.

GOOD/EXCELLENT

Were you worried what would happen to this bucolic property when the clever Tarver King decamped for the Restaurant at Patowmack Farm? Me too, until I checked into the inn this spring and got a taste of what his successor, David Dunlap, can do.

“I like ethnic restaurants,” says the former executive sous-chef at that other popular inn, the Inn at Little Washington. His worldly preferences are displayed across an ever-changing menu, which might set pork shoulder on kimchi-spiked polenta or almond-crusted lamb on lemony hummus, a little wave to Morocco.

A lot of his peers make Thai-style soups. Dunlap dares to brush the bottom of a bowl with chocolate ganache, roasted peanuts and puffed jasmine rice before pouring on coconut milk, lemon grass and kaffir lime. The soup is different — and good to the last drop. A few plates go overboard; potato salad with green beans, cultured cream and orange roe on a slab of slate brings to mind both Stonehenge and the Rockettes.


Ashby’s desserts, inlcuding the grapefruit curd, leave lasting impressions. (Scott Suchman/For The Washington Post)

Dunlap’s green curry soup includes a daring brush of chocolate ganache. (Scott Suchman/For The Washington Post)

Ashby’s four cozy dining rooms miss the smooth touch of former innkeeper and sommelier Neal Wavra, but desserts — apple crisp that nearly disappears into its big wooden bowl, grapefruit curd and basil pound cake with a grove of garnishes — leave lasting impressions. Dunlap tends a garden from which he plucks nasturtiums and vegetables for use in the kitchen. Unfortunately, soon after I tasted his work, Dunlap announced that he was leaving Ashby for a new project in Richmond; his last day is May 17. Here’s hoping the inn’s owners make another good hire to replace him.

2.5 stars

→692 Federal St., Paris, Va. 540-592-3900. www.ashbyinn.com.

Open: Lunch and dinner Wednesday through Saturday, brunch and dinner Sunday.

Prices: Lunch entrees $12 to $16, dinner entrees $28 to $46, three-course brunch $45.

Sound check: 64 decibels / Conversation is easy.

Previously (2011):

This review appears in The Washington Post’s 2015 Spring Dining Guide.