50 BEST RESTAURANTS: The Ashby Inn

Octopus carpaccio

Octopus carpaccio (Photography by Jonathan Timmes)

The Ashby Inn & Restaurant
692 Federal St., Paris; ashbyinn.com
Modern American | $$$$

Cauliflower soup (Photography by Jonathan Timmes)

The octopus arrived on a foot-long glass slab with its tentacles shaved into lavender-outlined disks mere millimeters thick. The individual rounds together form larger circles, with curled legs atop. Dabs of herby green and olivey-purple sauces, minced chorizo and garlic chips decorate the plate. It is stunning, with flavors as nuanced as its design. A cauliflower soup was tame but refreshing, just like those first, cooler winds of fall.

Previously at The Inn at Little Washington, David Dunlap arrived here in mid-September. This, like Patowmack Farm, is a restaurant with new energy—and remains a treasure.

With less than six options per course, Dunlap spends time on artistic details: A plate of hand-caught Rhode Island scallops incorporate Pantone-approved swaths of color with a sweet beet puree, caramelized fennel and Valencia oranges.

A bone-in rib eye tastes delicate, demanding concentration in a way that steak doesn’t usually require. You think about things here in the countryside, in an Inn with poor cellphone reception. It’s gentle flavors and tiny touches—in a touchscreen-free zone.

Scoop: Ask questions. The staff relays a refined ebullience and knows every detail on the plate.

 

(November 2013)