A revolutionary-era band and a mime at the Inn at Little Washington’s 40th anniversary gala, held at historic Mount Vernon on June 16. (Jennifer Chase for The Washington Post)

Patrick O’Connell is a perfectionist, so it was no surprise that he somehow produced a flawless summer night for the Inn at Little Washington’s 40th anniversary party.

More than 300 guests — including French Ambassador Gérard Araud, celebrity chefs José Andrés and Daniel Boulud, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, White House social secretary Rickie Niceta, philanthropist Jackie Mars, International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde and George Washington himself — gathered at Mount Vernon over the weekend to fete one of America’s most celebrated restaurants, awarded two stars by Michelin.

“Tonight is an invitation to reflect on the last four decades of our lives and consider what makes a place endure in a culture that reinvents itself every 15 minutes,” chef-owner O’Connell told the VIP crowd. “It’s actually pretty simple: Every day we just try to make it a little bit better than it was the day before.”

The night began with champagne and caviar, moved on to dinner on the lawn with a luxurious menu (foie gras in a golden egg, anyone?) and ended with dessert and fireworks over the Potomac River. All proceeds went to the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association; “President Washington” declared the party “a fine thing.”


Patrick O’Connell speaks at the gala. (Jennifer Chase for The Washington Post)

Andrea Mitchell, right, and philanthropist George Vradenburg attend the 40th anniversary event. (Jennifer Chase for The Washington Post)

The first course of the event, held at historic Mount Vernon in Virginia. (Jennifer Chase for The Washington Post)

Guests have dinner under a large tent at the Inn at Little Washington’s party. (Jennifer Chase for The Washington Post)

Fireworks commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Inn at Little Washington. (Jennifer Chase for The Washington Post)